Developed by Dlala Studios and published by Disney Electronic Content, Disney Illusion Island is the latest video game staring the world’s most famous mouse. When Disney decided to go a new route for Mickey Mouse animation, it was at first a controversial decision. Gone is the clean curvy and bright colours of past Mickey Mouse cartoons. Instead, the TV screen was splashed with a much more edgy Mickey Mouse show, one that could be enjoyed by both kids and adults.
This change in how Mickey was being presented on The Disney Channel and Disney+ spilled over into the theme parks, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is one of the most popular rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! With the success of the TV show and the ride, Disney went to the only next logical place – video games. Disney Illusion Island is built as a Metroidvania like game, but does it deliver? Let’s take a look!
Disney Illusion Island Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Dlala Studios
Publisher(s): Disney Electronic Content
Modes: Single Player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
A simple and engaging story
Monoth Island is a mysterious place, and has a bunch of problems that our gang of friends isn’t prepared for. Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy head to the island in hopes of enjoying a nice picnic with friends. Turns out the picnic invite from Toku was fake, and in fact the friends were lured to the island to help save it.
Toku, leader of the Hokuns, explains what has happened on the island and what he needs you to do to fix it. Through battles with various guardians, players will open and close portals, return Tomes to the bookshelf, and much more. I wasn’t expecting a story with any twists or turns, so was obviously shocked to find that happening here. For a game primarily aimed at kids, the story is pretty darn good.
Beautifully detailed by the world’s leading animation company
The story alone is actually really engaging, and you could sprinkle non-licensed characters into it and still have a fantastic game. What I’m not sure other companies could have pulled off was the great animation style. Some of the game’s charm does come from the story, but it really is the animation that makes everything pop. From the wonderfully detailed backgrounds to the expressive characters, this game makes you feel like you are playing in a Disney Mickey Mouse cartoon!
I really enjoyed when the game shifted from a gameplay perspective to an animation show perspective. Throughout the game, you really will feel like you are watching an extended version of a Mickey Mouse cartoon. The same animation style and story telling mechanics are used, and it’s very well done. If you are a fan of the newer Mickey Mouse cartoons, you’ll love this experience.
It controls and plays well too
Ultimately, a good story and beautiful settings are only going to take a game so far. It really needs strong mechanics and good controls to set it apart. Metroidvania games are not as uncommon as they used to be, and controls really matter in this style of game. Again, I think the team at Dlala Studios did a fantastic job making sure this game was polished.
Jumping, gliding and moving through the world is seamless, and rarely did I feel like platforming through a section was unfair. The game slowly introduces new mechanics as you play, which means you won’t ever be overwhelmed by the number of mechanics. I think at times, the game is guilty of forgetting one previous mechanic to overemphasize a new mechanic. While this might be a bit disappointing for older players, it actually is a great way of helping younger players get through the entire experience.
Easy or hard? You decide!
Even with some minor things that make the game easier for younger audiences, there are a multitude of difficulty options available. I love when developers do this as it makes games more accessible for a wider audience. If you want immunity from enemy attacks, there is an option here to set that up. If you want instant death if you take a hit, you can set that too. I love this feature, and it makes the entire experience more manageable. Being able to swap on the fly will also make overly difficult areas less frustrating.
The game also features cooperative play where up to four players can all traverse the island of Monoth together. What I really like about this is once again, players can tailor their experience to their game play level. Again, it opens up the possibility of parents playing this game with their kids, or friends playing together with less experienced friends. Very few games are offering this much customization today, and I think Dlala studios should be commended!
Disney Illusion Island is fun for the whole family
Overall, Disney Illusion Island is a fantastic experience that is fun for the whole family. The great art style and fantastic animation make you feel like you are playing a Mickey Mouse cartoon. I love the gameplay variety. Unfortunately, more experienced players might find the entire experience a bit too easy and light compared to other Metroidvania games. If you want something light, however, this is an easy pick!
+ Fantastic animation and art style
+ Very accessible for all ages and types of players
+ Compelling story and gameplay arch
– Might be a bit too easy for some players
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF DISNEY ILLUSION ISLAND
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3/5