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Old 03-24-2012, 07:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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One-Hour Retrospective: Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse

You don't have to play classic games with caveats like, "It starts slow, but after the first 20 hours it really starts to get interesting!" With few exceptions, you can play an older game for a few minutes and get an accurate sense of its worth. With that rule in mind, One-Hour Retrospectives are exactly as they sound: We'll play a classic game (like those on Virtual Console) for an hour and report back on how it goes. And if we should have given it another 19 hours before it became interesting, well, that's where you come in to keep us honest.

I thought it might be fun to commemorate Bob's preview of Epic Mickey 2 with a look back at what many consider to be Mr. Mouse's finest hour: The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse for the Super Nintendo. Released back in 1992, this platformer was actually the second game I got for the SNES after Super Mario World. A tough act to follow, huh? Having already proven myself to be Funky, Mondo and Outrageous in SMW, I latched on to Mickey's adventure with childish obsession. That being said, I haven't revisited the Capcom title in over a decade, so I was curious to see just how magical this quest really was.

The game inexplicably opens up with Mickey and pals playing catch in a field. Evidently anthropomorphic animals enjoy America's pastime? In what one can only assume was the inspiration for cinematic masterpiece The Sandlot, the things goes awry when the ball travels a bit too far. Somehow this poor throw ends up thrusting the titular mouse on a mission to rescue Pluto from the malfeasance-maker Pete. My 60 minutes with the game took me through mountains, caves and forests, but nothing ever really resembled a location from Disney's past. Aside from the main characters themselves, the game could've just as easily existed with any other critters slapped into the world. While this doesn't hurt the gameplay at all, it still feels like a major missed opportunity.

Luckily the game manages to deliver some pretty solid-platforming. The controls are tight, and each level contains enough different routes to reward those who are willing to explore. The depth in Magical Quest comes mostly in the form of the various costumes that Mickey finds throughout his journey. The first is a magician's outfit, which allows you to fire off blasts of energy and breath underwater without fear of drowning. Next is the firefighter's garb, which unsurprisingly gives Mickey the ability to shoot off a stream of water that can extinguish flames as well as move blocks to create platforms. The final suit that you uncover is the mountain climber gear, which bestows you with the grapple abilities from Bionic Commando.

These three different outfits for the mouse lend a decent amount of strategy. Magician Mickey is an offensive powerhouse, whereas Mountain Climbing Mickey becomes the most proficient platformer for those willing to adapt to the grapple-hook. You'll have to master all three costumes fairly quickly, because the game ramps up in difficulty during the fourth world. Once you reach Pete's Peaks, the game transforms into a cruel harbinger of pain. Despite continues being mighty forgiving, making even the tiniest bit of progress became a task that I could simply not complete. My hour ended with my Mickey falling off the same mountain in a never-ending circle of pain and suffering.

After dusting off my SNES copy of the game for an hour of play, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how well the game still plays. While it doesn't embrace Disney history in the same way that Epic Mickey, Kingdom Hearts, or even Mickey Mania do, it's still a solid platformer with some really great tunes. Those with a hankering to play dress-up with a talking mouse are encouraged to to either see a specialist or track down a copy of Magical Quest for SNES.
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