As a new parent, one of the things I look forward to the most is being able to play games with my son. This is just one of the reasons why Disney Illusion Island immediately caught my eye as a game that seemed like a blast to play with my family. A four-player co-op 2D platformer from Dlala Studios, developers of the latest Battletoads revival, Illusion Island seeks to combine the fun of traversing a seamless, expansive world with signature Disney charm. After spending about 20 minutes with her, I found myself intrigued enough and left with the feeling that Delilah seemed to be on the right track.
The setting for the adventure this time is Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy all traveling to the titular Island of Illusion under the impression that they have been invited by each other to a picnic. It turns out that the outing was a lie, and those invitations actually came from Toku, a group of creatures in desperate need of heroes to save them. And so, with a little cajoling (some need more than others), Mickey and the gang agree to help Toku by collecting three magical tomes scattered across the island.
And to be clear, the island He is particle. Dlala CEO AJ Grand-Scrutton doesn’t like using the term “Metroidvania” as a genre descriptor for Illusion Island, but it’s impossible to ignore the influence these games have had on their world design.
In his own words: “Look, it would be silly of us to pretend there’s no Metroidvania inspiring game structure. It’s a big, seamless world. You get to portals that you can’t pass until you get an ability. In many ways, this is Metroidvania 101,” Grand Scruton said. He continued, “I think the difference between us is that we focus on the platform side. This is not a fighting game. This is a game about all the challenges facing you and being solved through action and abilities rather than battles. So I think Metroidvania is our inspiration structurally, but I think our biggest influence is the platforms — the modern ones, and the ones we grew up with.”
Disney Illusion Island screens
Fortunately, these platforms look really good. It’s very smooth, there’s just the right amount of float for your jumps, and there’s a really nice flow from the level design that allowed me to jump from one place to another without even really thinking about it. Despite the large open-ended map, I felt naturally drawn to where I needed to go.
Of course one of the most notable aspects of Illusion Island – and as I said at the beginning, the thing that drew me towards it – is the fact that the entire campaign is playable in four-player co-op. Grand-Scrutton said they decided to make every character control the same because if you make one character faster, or one character jump farther, what naturally happens is someone feels like they’re left behind.
So they made it so that, basically, every character plays the same thing, but everyone feels different thanks to each of their animation styles. “We use a kind of game analogy in which we say that well, if we look at Minnie as a kite, we look at Goofy as a tacky dude, Donald as a slingshot, and Mickey as a bouncy ball. is that they all look the same, but they all feel really different when you play as each one of them. So it’s a really fun challenge to overcome.”
I only had the chance to play as Minnie, so I didn’t get to experience what the other characters felt like myself, but one of the things I really enjoyed was when I was able to use wall jumping. There was a fun scene where each character was given their own item that represented an ability. Mickey got a pencil, Minnie got climbing gear, Goofy got a fork, and Donald…a piston. Seeing Donald’s reaction to his talent was fun, I imagine it will be a recurring gag throughout the game and I’m very much looking forward to seeing more of it. It’s a delightfully comical tone that echoes the animated shows and movies from which we know these characters so well. This is enhanced by an art style that evokes the feel of a classic morning cartoon, but with a modern sheen.
“The way we see it is: We as platform fans who grew up as platform fans and still are platform fans we can play this. It’s fun and Grant and I can play it together and it feels challenging. But then if I want to play it with my nieces and nephews, we’ve given features Like being able to set my nephews to have infinite health, and I can play with two hearts and still get challenged. But I don’t have to worry about them fighting and suddenly hitting me because they still die all the time.”
As with any massive 2D platformer centered around exploration, discovery plays a huge role in Illusion Island, and you can expect to find plenty of collectibles in the form of Glimt – like coins that can be spent on a variety of unlocks – special cards called Tokens , and much more.
I’d also be remiss not to mention the soundtrack, which is the ambient soundtrack you’ve been hearing while touring Disneyland. It’s very interesting. And delightful is a good word to sum up my experience with Disney Illusion Island so far. If Dlala can develop the mechanics in satisfying ways over the course of the adventure, then Illusion Island has all the makings of a great return for Mickey Mouse and his friends to the world of the 2D platformer.
Mitchell Saltzman is an editorial producer at IGN. You can find him on Twitter @tweet
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