Disney's Mega Drive Movie!
At one point in time the video game instruction manual was an essential component to the physical copy of all games on all systems.
In the early days it helped fill in the blanks of the story behind your adventure or goal and also paint the pictures of the environment that the system itself could not. Many Atari 2600 owners relied on them completely as did the early home computers of the 1980's. When the 1990's and 16-Bit gaming took off, the manual was a way to partner a lovely looking game with an equally nice printed media. For a while it seemed like they would be around forever.
Add into the mix Japanese packaging standards and it's no wonder that what we have nowadays is a step backwards.
Two Heads are better than one...
I'll get by with a little help from my friends... Yeah, that's a good start!
Sometimes videogames mirror life perfectly, it's almost like they are teaching you a lesson, an important one. Nothing is impossible when someone else stands with you, it's beautiful. How very ideal world, how very Disney, speaking of...
Today I want to take a look at a game I find just lovely. It's not often I choose this word to describe something, an object, not a real life person because it's quite hard to feel about a thing the same way you would about a living breathing human being. I guess this is another one of those art imitating life moments coupled with how my mind is thinking about such things recently that brings us to the game in question. Recently I have been all about instruction manuals, mostly because I just purchased some Wii U games and none of them had one inside the box. Such a shame that this aspect of the industry has died off, especially considering how vitally important they once were to a different generation of gamers.
Instruction booklets are extremely important to not just me but many fans of old videogames as they were the thing that helped connect us to the game world we were about to experience. Quite often they had some back story printed inside and let's forget those incredible bits of artwork. not like now, now all you seem to get is some precautions booklet telling you not to play the game underwater or you know... In space. Stupid precautions booklet. After a quick scan of the Mega Drive shelves in the Gamesroom it dawned on me what might look great and after a brief look inside a box it proved right, not only was the game in the pictures around this text brilliant, not only did it have some truly special messages to preach and teach but also the Japanese booklet and cover art was just stunning. But let's get to know the game more first eh?
Released in December 1992 just in time for Xmas this was one of those defining periods of the console, the Disney licence and if I could be so bold hundreds of thousands of peoples childhoods. A follow up to the massively successful Castle Of Illusion which was one of the stand out titles of the Genesis/Mega Drive launch window especially in Europe where because we got the console late it felt like it was there day one (wasn't but you get my meaning right?)
The story is one that pretty much everyone can get on board with and believe, it's how while preparing for a magic show Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck accidentally open up a box that has an evil Magician inside (played by Pete from the Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck universe) He then sends out two heroes to another land where they must work together to escape, so begins the entire point of the game. Teamwork!
Sporting an immediate and completely perfect Disney look it's up to you (and a friend) to run, jump, swing, glide, fly, swim and climb through several themed worlds in order to get to the final boss encounter and get back home, after all you have a magic act to perform! The very first level with it's rope climbs and see saw style logs bring you into a videogame world where even playing alone means walking through danger with a friend. The console A.I. takes over at this point to walk with you and it's such a cool design feature, a one player game that is meant for two players that completely works as either. Honestly Sega were showing off with this game.
With gorgeous pastel colours and intricate detailed backdrops that are filled from top to bottom with great enemies and even bystanders in the background just going about their business the whole game feels completely alive. The music especially seems to come along with you for the journey, like a personal soundtrack of your life, brilliant!
Swimming inside air bubbles, flying on a magic carpet and even playing silly bonus mini games take a videogame that although extremely easy and far too short in terms of level size and give you a sense of being part of a Disney motion picture. Considering it takes longer than the average film to play and most people have indeed watched their favourite Disney film tens of not hundreds of times who cares if it's short, i'm not a big believer in people marking games down because they are too short. All the best games give you that moment of sadness when they end regardless of size, you want more, with a great game you ALWAYS want more. this is a great game.
Although now seen as more style over substance and often playing second fiddle to stuff like Castle Of Illusion this particular game for those with open hearts and minds has aged superbly. Not only did it get high scores back on it's release from pretty much every Sega magazine and multi format console mag but now fans of the retro scene have a real soft spot for this. it's just so... Well... Lovely!
Is it the longest game? Nope, Is it the hardest? God no. Is it better with two players? For sure! Will you smile when running through the game world? Absolutely. It's not Sonic 2, it's not Kid Chameleon but it doesn't have to be. It's an absolutely fantastic recreation of every kid's dream, to be in a far off magical land with a friend saving the day and being a hero. Now if we are all honest for just a little bit I think most videogame fans are still very much in the same mindset now as they were when they were 4 or 8 etc, there's a little bit of us that will always be Peter Pan... man I hope that statement rings true for you too.
So today if you have the pleasure to be with someone why not join up and smile for a few hours? If you are on your own why not let a game so full of joy and fun hold your hand and walk that path with you. The lesson here is that nobody is ever alone, that we all have someone to stand next too if we just reach out a hand and ask. Videogames so often accused of making kids angry and violent are really nothing like that at all. So many of them, especially the old ones, were our friends when maybe we didn't have that many around us at the time as we were growing up and discovering exactly who we really were.
There's poetry in that. There's goodness there. So much so in fact that if you really think about why so many of us from completely different countries and religious beliefs, gender, age differences, race all come together and in an instant are just exactly the same it not only blows your mind but humbles you, calms you, gives you comfort. That's the power on display not just in an online social community but the characters of the people who reach out to find that one person or collection of people who understand them. Like I said, lovely!
That's what World Of Illusion is to me, not just a brilliant videogame but a life lesson, a pick me up when those clouds in the sky just won't go away. A smile is always a moment away when you just add a little bit of imagination. Thanks Sega, thanks Mega Drive but most of all thanks Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck, oh, and of course Disney... you rock!