This week's RetRose Tinted is partly inspired by an episode of Retroforce Go. I want to say it was the recent episode about Capcom, due to the company's myriad of Disney-licensed titles for the NES but I can't say for certain as I've been listening to a lot of the older episodes since the torrent of the entire series was made available.
Either way, it reminds me of a blonde girl who lived in my childhood neighborhood. I remember she had braces, was socially awkward and had first and last names which very nearly rhymed. Two of those things no doubt contributed to the other, and we became friends because neither of us really knew how to fit in.
Mickey Mousecapade was a game that we played together. A niggling thought in the back of my mind tells me that her parents were of the sort who actually paid attention to the media their children consumed and something with Mickey and Minnie Mouse was one of the few things considered to be acceptable content. But was it any good? I enjoyed it at the time and always lamented having never traveled further through it. Let's try again.
Mickey Mousecapade is the first Disney game to have been released on the NES. Since practically everything else released on the console which relates to Disney properties was developed by Capcom, I think some people assume that this one was as well. It was actually designed by Hudson and only published in the US by Capcom, which explains why it does not match the same level of quality as games such as Ducktales or Chip 'n Dale's Rescue Rangers. In fact, this game kinda sucks.
Yeah. I ruined the suspense for you. Sue me. Mickey Mousecapade is not a good game but it is one with some interesting ideas. Wait, did I say "interesting?" I meant "annoying."
If you just pop the cartridge into your NES, there's really no way to know what is going on. Mickey and Minnie run through levels with no apparent purpose. I suppose it doesn't really matter, since the game challenges the player in a few intolerable ways.
First of all, comes the issue of having Minnie Mouse along for the ride. Sure, she effectively doubles your firepower, by allowing you to have a second star to shoot at enemies (provided that you find one). That's a nice feature. But she trails about half of the character's width behind Mickey and mimics his actions, not unlike the shadow ninja power-up in the Ninja Gaiden series.
This would be alright too, if she were unaffected by things like gravity. She isn't, and it's easy to get her caught on lower sections of some levels because you didn't climb a ladder quite long enough for her to catch up with you at the top. Which means you then have to travel back down to pick her up and drag her back up with you all over again. Worse, if you jump over one of the game's many bottomless pits and wind up with Mickey landing right on the far end, it's a virtual guarantee that Minnie will go tumbling in, killing you both.
Then there are the enemies. Most of them don't deal a considerable amount of damage or are particularly difficult to kill. Some of them, including bosses and some larger foes, will kill you instantly if you collide with them. There's nothing I like better than jumping across a pit only to discover two enemies which take a considerable amount of effort to defeat, firing projectiles and jumping towards you irregurally, and (with a full health bar) be jumped on and killed.
I mean, I'm all for a difficult game, but this was aimed at children, for God's sake! I would not be surprised to discover that there are people in this world whose perspective on the rodent mascots has been irrevocably colored by their experience playing Mickey Mousecapade. I knew there was a reason that I hated Minnie Mouse, for example, but I couldn't really pin this irrational disdain on anything until playing this game again.
The level design is infuriating as well. There are two types of level in Mickey Mouscapade. The first are fairly lengthy, exploration affairs. These are broken up by the other, much shorter levels which have a greater emphasis on platforming. The latter seems to delight in throwing as many damaging elements at you as possible. Both types conclude with a boss.
The larger levels usually require you to find some key or discern the correct path to the exit. In some cases, it's very straightforward. Then there are levels like The Woods, which consists of five areas which wrap around like a mobius strip and have doors which connect these five sections. Go through the wrong door and you'll wind up at an earlier section, possibly even the one at the very beginning.
This isn't anything unusual, really. These sorts of levels have existed for a long time. The thing that bugs me about them is that the correct door is occasionally invisible, only becoming accessible when you've shot it an appropriate number of times. Annoying? Yes, doubly so when you realize that some of these hidden doors also just route you back to a previous area. This level alone is so frustrating as to make me want to never, ever play this game ever again. It's not challenging, it's unfair.
I just can't express how pissed off I am that this game isn't any fun. But when viewed through a critical perspective, it suffers from enough issues that my emotional frustration with it feels proper, even righteous. If I ever play Mickey Mousecapade again, it will be too soon.