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The best and worst of Mickey Mouse

There’s an ancient and oft cited survey floating around the web that claims that Mario is more popular than Mickey Mouse. Sure, sounds believable. Even if the source of the poll has gone unaccredited since 1990. So, in order to present the following article in terms our audience can understand: Mickey is basically the Mario of everything else.

Movies, TV, apparel, comics, toys - there's virtually no form of earthly matter Disney hasn’t adorned with its famous figurehead, and momentarily dominated over the course of Mickey’s 80+ year career... except for videogames, that is. The Mouse has been in interactive form since roughly 1983, yet until Kingdom Hearts, most of his efforts have been overshadowed by even his compatriots!


Above: “DuckTales… so awesome” 

But today it’s all about you, Mickey. We’re shining the spotlight on your five greatest gaming accomplishments, and then we’re going to drag you over to the roasting dais and mock your worst. You’ve earned it!


THE BEST

5. Mickey’s Speedway USA | 2000

Yeah, most Kart racers are bullshit knock-offs… except when they’re made by Rare! Having proved its worth with Diddy Kong Racing three years earlier, Rare masterfully infused that winning formula with the Disney brand and the result was just plain old fun. You’ve got a silky smooth, well-balanced racing title with all the charm of a Banjo-Kazooie game.

Your basic weapons mirror the ones found in every Mario Kart, yet Mickey’s Speedway still had a few tricks up its sleeve. For one, those gold Sonic rings you see that litter the courses - based on Indianapolis, San Francisco and you guessed it, Oregon! - they managed to avoid Sega’s legal thunder by actually increasing top speed stats as you collected them. So that’s almost interesting… but unlike other Kart games, this one’s got a plot!


Above: The Weasels from Roger Rabbit kidnap poor Pluto and the only answer is a Kart race across America! 

Of course, the game isn’t without a spoonful of the irritating nonsense that’s earned Rare a lawn chair at the cusp of irrelevance. Unskippable cutscenes, ho! And this agonizing narrative is unstoppably presented via Skype and a Windows operating system:


Above: No, you may not move that cursor! Mickey’s Speedway USA is telling a story 

Luckily, anyone who has marveled at the music in Banjo-Kazooie, Viva Pinata, or Donkey Kong Country knows full well that Rare is more than capable of composing a decent game composition in the spirit of classic cartoons. And here you’ll find plenty of jazzy up tempo numbers that harken back to the heyday of Disney’s iconic shorts.


Above: Yes, Mickey may only have four good games 

However, in a rare Rare move, the game featured top-notch voice acting delivered by the late Wayne Allwine and the other able players synonymous with audibly bringing the characters to life throughout the years.


Above: Ludwig Von Drake: Unlockable! 

Still, it’s a helluva lot of fun, even if it’s light on the difficulty. Plus, Mickey’s Speedway was compatible with the Rumble Pak, AND was one of the very few N64 games to support the Transfer Pak. Dewey and Louie were unlockable within the game, but if you wanted to play as Huey, well, you were gonna need to connect the GBC version. Talk about incentive!


Above: Pretty adorable for all its ugliness, no? 


4. Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse | 1990

You could call Castle of Illusion a product of its time, but to us, it’s a damn fine sidescroller lost in the fracas of the Mario vs Sonic battle for supremacy. And it more than made up for stink nuggets like Mickey Mousecapade (read on!)


Above: Minnie is kidnapped once again

Part of the reason Mickey couldn’t ever take the stage in a balls-out action title is because, well… he’s not really much of an action hero is he? Mickey’s more about perseverance than anything else. The guy rarely even wears a shirt so he’s barely fit to fight a cold snap.

Mickey’s not really built for combo breakers and kill sprees. So, in Castle of Illusion he moves primarily on the defensive, armed with little more than a butt bounce and as many apples as he can pick up. Castle Crashers this ain’t.


Above: “That’s not the evil queen from Snow White, Mr. Eisner… That’s Lady Mizrabel!”

It looks as though rights issues prevented Castle from staring a Who’s Who ensemble of animated legends (although someone managed to sneak a character or two in with some slightly clever rewording). Yet the game’s tone and style stayed true to the very essence of what’s made Disney an institution. So there!

36 comments

  • tymime - June 17, 2012 2:22 p.m.

    No, those are not the weasels from Roger Rabbit.
  • Blinder - October 2, 2009 7:49 p.m.

    I thought for sure you guys would have included a story about Virtual Magic Kingdom this week. It was Disney's promotional MMO that they closed down because they weren't making any money on it, which in turn broke a lot of childrens hearts.
  • FistfulofPelican - September 26, 2009 6:18 a.m.

    Ugh. I really didn't like Mickey Mania. Sure, it looked good and was really faithful to the source material, but it played like crap. Magical Quest, on the other hand, is awesome.
  • Weegee - September 25, 2009 11:23 p.m.

    I used to love Mickey Mouse Speedway. More than Mario Kart 64. But that was back in the days where I also played Tigger's Hunny Hunt. Go figure.
  • A2guy - September 25, 2009 1:43 p.m.

    I actually remember mickymouse speedway, and likeing it as a kid.
  • Obama69DoctorFunkenstein - September 24, 2009 11:52 p.m.

    Holy shit, i totally forgot about Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle II on gb for years until i saw this ! i used to play that game hardcore when i was very young :O
  • V13Dragongal - September 24, 2009 8:41 p.m.

    oops! i meant to say, shows how much i know about mickey.
  • V13Dragongal - September 24, 2009 8:40 p.m.

    Cool article.i didn't know mickey mouse was in SO MANY games.i only knew about two.shows how i know. Yay! i commented befor cyberninja, he allways beats me.
  • Yar - September 24, 2009 7:41 p.m.

    Eh... I kinda liked Bugs Bunny's Crazy Castle, and this article didn't change my mind. It seemed a bit rushed, since all you basically said about it was 'It used to have Mickey Mouse. Anyway, IT SUCKED LOL!' Solid reasoning FTW!
  • TheWebSwinger - September 24, 2009 7:37 p.m.

    Hmmm can we all just agree to call this the Week of Antista? :P But seriously, this is great stuff. Also loving the Old-Time Disney stuff on Twitter.
  • TheGiaour - September 24, 2009 7:07 p.m.

    Well now I see your colleagues were right, you have been busy Mr. Antista. Thanks for bringing back memories, good and bad, of ol Mickey himself.
  • DirkSteele1 - September 24, 2009 6:36 p.m.

    I did half expect to see Fantasia on the Mega Drive appear on the worst list, though I would have protested a little. Yes, the controls were not as smooth as they could have been, but it was a hard as nails challenge which I appreciated. Castle of Illusion will always have a special place in my gaming history, but no World of Illusion? I know it starred Donald Duck as well, but was a great game. Kudos for putting Mickey Mania at the top of the list though. Might be time to pull the Mega Drive out of the cupboard, dust it off and take it for a spin.
  • alicerose13 - September 24, 2009 4:44 p.m.

    I have Mickey Mousecapade in my house right now. I played it when I was a kid and was afraid of it (it was really hard and Pete was scary! lol), so I decided to go back last year and try to play it again. I beat it! In all its insane difficulty!
  • Felixthecat - September 24, 2009 4:07 p.m.

    This is the best part of Week of Disney so far, i am expecting more tommorow that matches to this high standard. But fantastic article, Mickey (or should i say Mortimer) is the best and has one of the greatest voices in cartoon history.
  • Conman93 - September 24, 2009 3:23 p.m.

    Lol at the 'chill everyone I got this' picture. Go Mickey!!!
  • dweller - September 24, 2009 2:49 p.m.

    Great article! Castle of Illusion reminded me the time I rented World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. The point to my story is this: I beat the game as both Donald and Mickey at the same time by myself. I was bored, it was easy, and I had two controllers. I just had to alternate between the two constantly. It did add to the challenge.
  • zombiekiller13 - September 24, 2009 2:06 p.m.

    Gah, Mickey Mousecapade. A friend of mine owned this. We actually tried to beat the game, but couldn't get past the second stage. Also didn't know the goal was to save Alice. Hell, I don't think we knew anything about our goal...I assumed it was Mickey's attempt to cut the invisible leash Minnie was keeping him on.
  • Geminiman82 - September 24, 2009 12:33 p.m.

    Chris, that was an amazing article! I'm so glad they had you doing the week of Disney because you really know your stuff man.
  • Godz_Mercenary - September 24, 2009 12:01 p.m.

    Mickey Mouse is pointless in this day and age. I'm hoping he will be confined to history soon. This is the age of...um...just not Mickey. My Nephew and Niece (6 and 2) have nothing Mickey related and watch nothing Mickey related and they ask for nothing Mickey related. Goes for Donald and Goofy too.
  • Timothy_Lemon - September 24, 2009 11:58 a.m.

    man speedway usa was so good. wish i was 10 again.

Showing 1-20 of 36 comments

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