Developer(s) – Traveller’s Tales
Publisher(s) – Sony Imagesoft & Walt Disney Computer Software
Designer(s) – Jon Burton, Andy Ingram, Mike Glam & David Jaffe
ELSPA – 3+
Released across two generations on various consoles, and being the developmental debut of Twisted Metal creator and God of War alumni David Jaffe, Mickey Mania was originally envisioned to coincide with Mickey’s 65th anniversary. However, it was pulled back to allow for more development time. What followed was a critical and commercial success of a game, praised to extent that it was considered a must-have for any fourth-generation gamer at the time. I feel very much the same having played it profusely when it first came out, and for any fans of the 2D sides rolling genre, it has very much stood the test of time.
Graphics – 8/10
The game is set across several classic Mickey Mouse cartoons from 1928’s Steamboat Willy to that character’s 1990 take on The Prince and the Pauper, and each level in the game captures the feel of the original features flawlessly. It’s one of those games that as one based on a preexisting license with a predetermined visual style, it stands the test of time in terms of graphics because of it. It was also one of the earliest instances I can remember whereby I was introduced to at least pseudo-3D Graphics on a console game, and I remember being blown away by it at the time.
Gameplay – 8/10
The game is a traditional 2D side scroller quite typical of the fourth generation of gaming, and typical of what games were resulting from the Disney license at the time along with Duck Tales, Aladdin, Toy Story, and others. There’s is also a light puzzle-solving element in certain levels as well, but it mainly revolves around getting from A to B. There is also a couple of memorable boss fight, including that with The Mad Doctor and Pete’s Prince and the Pauper incarnation. The pseudo-3D gameplay sequences have the player running away from impending danger, which provides a welcome challenge to break up the traditional platforming sequences and keep players firmly on their toes.
Controls – 10/10
As a standard sides roller perpetuating industry standards set at the time, there are no issues with the controls. The way the control scheme is implemented during the 2.5D sequences is handled quite well in addition, especially considering that the idea was relatively new at the time and would’ve taken a certain degree of innovative thinking to effectively manage it.
Lifespan – 6/10
Just about meeting the standard of Lifespan set at the time, the game can be made to last a maximum of 2 hours. The definitive way to play this game, in every aspect in addition to lifespan, is through the PlayStation version entitled Mickey’s Wild Adventure. It contains every level designed for the game, as well as a few new added features, whereby the Super NES and Mega Drive versions were missing certain levels and sequences.
Storyline – 7/10
The game’s story is simply a retelling of several classic Mickey Mouse cartoons in video game form. Throughout, each level perpetuates elements of what made the original cartoons captivating and portrays an early example of how video games can be capable of telling a story without the player having to consult the manual. Again, it’s another reason why Mickey’s Wild Adventure is the definitive way to play it since it also included voice acting
Originality – 8/10
In some respects, such as lifespan, the game just about met industry standards and failed to stand out as a result. But in many other respects, including graphic design and gameplay, it stands out among a plethora of 2D sidescrollers that were being released at the time. It almost served as a precursor to what would eventually be released by Sony with the advent of the PlayStation following the deal between them and Nintendo falling through. It seemed like a particularly historical game in that respect the more I’ve thought about it since, and it makes me wonder what the landscape of gaming may have been if history had gone another way.
In summation, Mickey Mania was a quietly innovative game that has since stood the test of time with the enjoyable experience it provides. It’s a licensed game that surpassed expectations at the time, and I would still highly recommend it be played today.