Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is one of the best platformers around

Feral Interactive's newest game, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, is one of the best platformers I've played in some time. It evokes the storybook feel of classic Disney fairytales in its lush graphics and vivid colors.

Here's the summary of the plot: "When Minnie Mouse is kidnapped by the jealous witch Mizrabel, it’s up to Mickey to rescue her from a hexed castle in this fairytale platforming adventure. Bounce, jump, swim and swing through fifteen captivating levels, each filled with tricky tasks and imaginative enemies. 

"Overcome the outrageous obstacles Mizrabel has scattered throughout her magical stronghold as you play through a spellbinding adventure where sparkling graphics, charming environments and deft animations evoke the enchanting spirit of classic Disney."

The introductory movie is told in still frames, which threw me a bit and got things off to a bit of a slow start. Once I got past that, however, the pace was quick and the gameplay fun and intuitive with easy-to-understand controls, reminding me of Super Mario 64 in some places (and I mean that as a compliment). However, the unseen narrator's constant, and unnecessary comments like “Mickey bravely continued through the castle" can get irritating. Also, gameplay can be short.

However, that's not necessarily a bad thing. "Hardcore" gamers who want hours of gameplay and lots of difficulty probably aren't going to be buying a game with "Mickey Mouse" in the title. Castle of Illusion is for those who want a colorful, retro game with which they can relax and not have to invest a lot of time or effort.

You can play Castle of Illusion using either a keyboard and mouse or a gamepad. You can customize your keyboard or gamepad controls in the Control Setup menu. You can access this either from the Main Menu via Options → Control Configuration, or from the in-game Pause menu via Options → Control Setup. Depending on which character you’re controlling you can fly, throw stuff, etc.

Like most Feral games, Castle of Illusion's gamepad support is one of the best features of the app. The first thing to do if you want to play with a gamepad is find out which gamepads your game supports. Many of the Feral games have a list of supported gamepads in their FAQs. I’m using an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller and it works fine (though you’ll have to have a wireless receiver for this to work; there’s no way to implement — as far as I know — wireless gamepad support via Bluetooth on the Mac.)

However, you’ll need to download and install a device driver, a piece of software that allows your computer to interact with other pieces of hardware. Feral recommends (and I agree wholeheartedly) Tattiebogle’s drivers, which enable you to use both wired and wireless Xbox 360 controllers with Mac games. The drivers are free to download from and licensed under the GNU General Public Licence (GPL). (BTW, I found it worked better downloading the driver (disk image) rather than the source (ZIP) file. Install the drivers, and you’ll find an Xbox Controllers pane at the bottom of the Mac OS X Systems Preferences app.

Then make sure the gamepad is switched to DirectInput mode. Not all gamepads have this feature, but those that do have a switch with the options “D” (DirectInput) and “X” (XInput) on either side. Make sure the switch is switched to “D.”

Once you’ve done this, plug your gamepad into your Mac and launch the game. In most cases, the game will ask you to choose an input method (i.e. the peripheral you will be using to control the game) at the Main Menu. Simply press any button on the gamepad, and the game will recognize it.

I’d recommend the gamepad option; it makes gameplay more fluid, at least for me.

A mini-site dedicated to the $14.99 game is available here. Minimum system requirements call for a 1.8GHz Intel Mac with at least 4GB of RAM, 256MB or better graphics card, and Mac OS 10.8.5 or later. The game requires an Nvidia 600 series, an AMD 4000 series or an Intel 4000 graphics card or better. A Steam account is required to access online multiplayer.