Disney Illusion Island

Review: Disney Illusion Island

The world of Mickey Mouse and the gang is a storied one. Whether it be the often controversial Disney brand or the ups and downs, they’ve experienced in the gaming world. Disney and its most iconic characters have been part of the ever-changing whirlwind of the media landscape for generations, and now their back on the console landscape.

Disney Illusion Island is a title that likely won’t blow anyone’s gaming socks off, but maybe it doesn’t have to. It’s not controversial; it won’t turn the gaming industry upside down; it’s not all that inventive… it’s just simple Metroidvania fun.

Friends Become Heroes

After a series of suspicious letters lead Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, and Goofy to a “piknik,” the adventure quickly begins as the friends team up to help find the lost tomes on Monoth. It’s a new locale filled with charming characters and landscapes. I haven’t watched much Mickey/Minnie-inspired content in the last 15-20 years. Still, the animation and writing in the opening minutes had me smiling from ear to ear and genuinely tickled by the intelligent jokes and excellent voice acting.

Once the Disney Illusion Island begins, you can choose from one of the four iconic characters (or play them co-operatively). They all look and sound unique but control the same way. The controls are tight but a little “floaty” for my tastes. It works with the world you’re playing in, but it sometimes felt too light on the handling.

Metroid Mickey

I chose to play as Goofy. He’s my kind of guy, as all his moves and abilities are themed around food. This is also a fun and unique way to provide choice to the player; all four Disney characters may feel the same, but they all have their personalities. It breathes life into a game that otherwise could feel lazy or simplistic on the presentation front.

As you embark on your Disney Illusion Island adventure, you’ll quickly find yourself 2D platforming through charming and eye-popping locations. The opening couple of hours mainly consists of acquiring a double jump, a wall jump, and a ground pound ability to reach new areas to advance the story and find collectables. Nothing surprising or unique here; just a simple way to get around the map, befriend new characters, and save the day. It’s very familiar to any Metroidvania veteran out there. And that’s where Disney Illusion Island hits its stride but also holds itself back.

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Toeing The Line Of Difficulty

The map’s regions and areas may vary, but the gameplay isn’t overly unique, at least at first. Disney Illusion Island might feel a little too easy for any gamer who’s played a few Metroidvania or even a decent amount of 2D platformers in the last decade. At least, it was for me. I don’t need a Celeste, Ghost Song, Metroid Prime, or Teslagrad 2 to enjoy my platformers. Difficulty does not equal success or a good game. Disney Illusion Island is a solid title, but I didn’t find it challenging enough.

Most of the traversal consists of simple jumps, swings, and timing. Again, nothing you haven’t seen before. It has you string these moves together occasionally, unlocking new ways to move around and interact with your environment. These are fun and become more complex, but they were rarely tricky enough for me to take the “learn from my mistakes” approach. For many, this is a plus, and honestly, for me, it’s still not necessarily a negative; it’s just a lighter approach to an often tricky genre of games.

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Because of this, Disney Illusion Island is likely meant for younger or less experienced platforming gamers. And when I think about it, that’s probably a good thing. If you have a younger generation in the house or the family, hand over your Switch and let them take this for a ride. The game has many auto-save spots, creating a much more forgiving restart point if you lose all your hearts. It also includes a very interesting and innovative way to balance difficulty.

When you start the game, you can choose how many hit points you want to have (1-3) or if you want to play through the game with invincibility. I think this is a fantastic way to approach a Disney-licensed game, one that a decent amount of younger gamers will likely play.

Disney Illusion Island Collects History

Rewards throughout Disney Illusion Island mainly consist of small trophies or cards. Some are information on enemies and the new friends you’ve made throughout your journey, while many or glimpses into the rich Disney and Mickey Mouse past.

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You’ll find little statues of Steamboat Willie, for example, or smaller and lesser-known characters that Disney has created over the years. The history is deep, and so are the collectables. None of them change the gameplay or give you any bonuses, but they do give you a chance to traverse through some slightly more challenging areas with a fun and informative reward at the end.

Verdict

While playing through Disney Illusion Island, I had a smile on my face most of the time. It’s hard to deny that this game is full of charm and whimsical experiences. Sure, it doesn’t bring a ton new, and it’s often a far-too-easy Metroidvania experience. But every once and a while, that’s ok.

If you’re ok with a much simpler and breezy playthrough of a tightly controlled and forgiving platformer, give this a go. Once you do (or why not give multiplayer a shot), hand the Joy-Con over to a younger or less experienced gamer and let them soak in the well-crafted Illusion Island.

Recommended

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: Switch

Disney Illusion Island
Review: Disney Illusion Island
Summary
Disney Illusion Island looks and sounds amazing. It's a great starting point for gamers just getting into metroidvanias. It's not very difficult and doesn't bring a lot new to the table, but it's still a fun, whimsical time.
Liked
Really funny and charming cut scenes
Great style and presentation
Tight, responsive traversal
Good title for younger gamers to play
Didn't Like
Far too easy for experienced gamers