Friday, November 18, 2011

Mickey Mousecapade (NES)

Rating: 3 out of 5
Pros: Standard platformer that paved the way for great Capcom published Disney games in the future
Cons: Not much variety in levels or enemies, Minnie is annoying!

Mickey Mousecapade is a standard side-scrolling platform game from early in the Nintendo Entertainment System's life cycle. It was developed by Hudson Soft and published by Capcom here in North America. While it's not a terrific game itself, it paved the way for future Disney games such as Duck Tales and Darkwing Duck to be published by Capcom on the Nintendo. Mickey Mousecapade is meant to be played through in one sitting - it has no battery, no game save and no continues. The best you get are a couple of hidden codes. The first is a level select code that you can input at the title screen. You push up, down, left or right on the directional pad at the same time as you press select and start, and you start at a different level for each direction. The next is a continue code when you die, press up and start to continue from the level you were on. There are only five levels though, and none are very long so it's not usually necessary.

The platforming is pretty standard fare. You move from room to room or area to area shooting enemies that are walking around trying to kill you. Enemies include the likes of little cats, slimes, spiders and birds. Most of them just have one type of movement they repeat hoping to accidentally kill you in the process. Walking back and forth, jumping up and down, hanging from the ceiling, etc. A few will have better attacks, like the little pirate that throws little skulls at you or the bird that flies overhead and poops on you, but there's nothing really special here. Even the bosses on each level are like that, though most of them do shoot one random projectile or another at you, and mostly with no discernible pattern. A little more work could have been put in to make the enemies and bosses a little more fleshed out. You dispatch these enemies by shooting them with little stars, and you obtain the little star weapon very early in the game from a chest.

The story, too, could have used a little work. There's really not much to it, but to be fair there wasn't really much story to very many games back in 1988 when this was released. The entire story (from the instruction book) is as follows:

"Mickey, followed by Minnie, adventure through the Fun House, by the Ocean, the Woods, the Pirate Ship, and the Castle. All in search of their mystery friend. Help them solve the mystery!"

The "followed by Minnie" part is a little annoying. You control Mickey, and Minnie follows you around a step behind everywhere you go. She's immune to damage from enemies, and she does shoot a few stars as well if you grab her weapon from a chest in the first level. This sounds like it'd be helpful, but in reality Minnie is more often detrimental to the game play. As you jump over pits, she jumps over a step behind. If she dies, Mickey mysteriously dies as well, so if she falls in a pit it's really annoying. Another problem is the platforms themselves. Some are small, but even more important is the fact that some don't have a lot of jumping room and Minnie often ends up stuck in the corner of the room somewhere. She has to be right with you when you leave rooms or it don't work, so you have to go back down and get her and make her move about the platforms with indirect jumping while you're trying to move about yourself. It's rather annoying at times.

There are always some type of items in platform games, and Mickey Mousecapade is no exception. There are only a few, and they are only uncovered by shooting lamps on the wall or uncovering a hidden area. First off there is a piece of cake that restores one bar on your health meter, as well as a red diamond that restores all of your health. There's a blue diamond that destroys all enemies on the screen, and a guardian angle that looks like the fairy from The Legend of Zelda. This guardian angel gives you temporary invincibility for about 10 seconds and operates like the star in Super Mario Brothers destroying any enemies you come into contact with. Finally, you can occasionally find a 1-Up that gives you an extra life.

As for the hidden areas in the game, you find them by shooting your stars and if they explode in mid-air somewhere then keep shooting that spot. Sometimes there's a guardian angel there to help you, and other times there's an annoying crow enemy that kidnaps Minnie. Since you can't finish the level without her, you have to start hunting for more of these hidden areas to find her again. Once you find another hidden area, there are 4 statues inside. At random, touching one of the statues will give you Minnie back and the other 3 will poof out of existence and do nothing. Once it took me about 20 tries before I rescued Minnie, and it was mighty irritating.

The graphics and sound aren't terrible, especially considering it was made pretty early in the Nintendo's life cycle. It's colorful and has some detail in the characters and enemies, but there's not a lot of variety. The sound fares a little worse because the music is really annoying. As far as sound effects, the blip blip sound when you shoot stars could have been toned down a bit. Since most of the game your constantly spamming stars, that sound pretty much drowns out any other sound effects there are and it, too, gets pretty annoying.

Overall, I would give Mickey Mousecapade an average rating and only recommend you try it out if your Nintendo still works and you can pick it up for a buck or two at a flea market, garage sale or on eBay. Otherwise, avoid it and pick up one of Capcom's later offerings for the Nintendo like Darkwing Duck.

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