Let's call Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion a false start. It tried to recapture the spirit of Castle of Illusion on SEGA Genesis, but it sadly fell short. The actual remake, on the other hand, is looking like the real deal.
It may be a remake, but the PS3, XBLA, and PC escapade is not a block-for-block recreation of the original. It follows the same storyline and features many of the same environments and enemies, but the levels themselves are completely different with only a passing resemblance to their source.
And it's pretty tough.
This is a hardcore game, the SEGA rep explained to me. A hardcore game for hardcore players, not casual chumps who like to have their hands held. And as the words were leaving his lips, here is Mickey Mouse on the screen shouting, "Yahoo! Oh boy!" Quite the contrast.
So yeah, Mickey speaks in the game. Strangely, the rep was trying to tell me that they managed to get the Mickey voice actor from the original game back for this one. Of course, that's not possible because the original game lacked any vocals. Was he talking about Wayne Allwine, Mickey's voice actor from that era? Because that dude has been dead for years.
But the rep stressed that it's not the current Mickey VA, Bret Iwan. Maybe SEGA found old sound files of Allwine? I dunno. I think the rep was just confused. It's got to be Iwan.
In any case, Mickey controls just as he did on the Genesis, with one little change -- no more butt pound. In the original, you had to tap the jump button a second time in mid-air to aim the rodent's rounded buttocks right at his enemies' faces. For the remake, a simple jump serves that purpose.
There were two levels in the demo: the toy land and the castle dungeon. In the original, these were the second and fifth levels, respectively. The dungeon is still the fifth level, but the toy land had become Mickey's opening act this time.
In the toy land, you climb up a block staircase while bouncing off flying planes and collecting marbles to throw at baddies in a sequence lifted almost directly from the Genesis, although it's been significantly extended since then. Once you reach the key at the top, all the blocks will disappear and you will slide down to the bottom.
While you still avoid living suits of armor in the dungeon, it's otherwise completely different from the Genesis incarnation. There's a segment where platforms slide out from the walls and you have to hop from one to the next before they slide back, like Mega Man's disappearing blocks.
Both these levels are played from a 2D view, but there will be portions of the game where you roam in 3D -- such as the boss battles. Although the demo ends just before the battles begin, I noticed that the bosses of toy land and the dungeon are the jack-in-the-box and giant from the original. It'll be interesting to see how much different the fights will be in this new perspective.
I played the demo on both the PS3 and 360, but I couldn't help but ask about the mysterious Wii U build that doesn't exist. I was told the same stock answer we've heard a million times before: we are exploring possibilities but have nothing to announce at this time. What's the mystery, SEGA? It's Mickey Mouse! He goes together with Nintendo like... well... Mickey Mouse and Nintendo!
Oh well. Maybe we'll get lucky. For everyone else, expect Castle of Illusion some time this summer.