Friday, August 7, 2015

Tokyo Disneyland: Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour (GB) Review

Received: November 26th, 2014 / Written: August 4th-7th, 2015
(As played on the Super Game Boy)
Year: 1995 | Developed by: GRC | Published by: Tomy | [|O|]
 
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit.  I think it's high-time I ask you all a very serious question: who loves sequels?  =D  ......or rather, tangentially connected spiritual ones anyway?
 
This game was ghoulishly good fun  =)
In late 1994 the Super Famicom received a Mickey Mouse-licensed platformer, Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken, a game made by GRC and published by Tomy that actually transpired in Tokyo Disneyland.  In it Mickey Mouse had an unlimited arsenal of balloons--both air- and water-based--that helped him keep going and progress further as he battled Pete's cronies and Pete himself in well-known rides and segments of Disneyland; like the Pirates of the Caribbean-themed Adventureland, the surrealistically futuristic Tomorrowland, eventually culminating itself in Cinderella's Castle.  But because the titular location would've been inaccurate had it been released outside the Land of the Rising Sun, the game sadly remained there.  =(
 
Actually challenging Disney fare, but still a
solidly good game in its own right
I have a lot of fond memories of Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken as it was not only the second Super Famicom cart I imported in the Summer of '12 (after the really fantastic Alcahest), but I also consider it to be a really enjoyable Disney game.  While it may not equate in quality to the 16-bit trilogy of Mickey Mouse's Magical Adventure platformers made by Capcom, his Tokyo Disneyland adventure was a delight to play and it did a nice job of transporting you there.  =)  What set this one apart from the other Mickey Mouse platformers at the time was the fact that it was actually quite challenging, part of it being attributed to the way the alright balloon controls were implemented, which I found rather refreshing after all the Disney Mouse games that were fun but admittedly on the easy side.  Its locales were immersive, the gameplay was fun despite its slight imperfections, it had a magical lighthearted charm going for it, it looked and sounded good, and it bookended itself with the best fight against Pete ever!  =D
 
To this day I've still never been to either Disneyland or Disneyworld, but I hope that one day that'll change.  Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken for a while was the only real game I played that took place in Disneyland, but upon curiosity last year I decided to go ahead and try another Tokyo Disneyland game, which just so happened to be made by the same company which just so happened to star the same main character which just so happened to share the exact balloon controls (to some extent, anyway).  Ladies and gentlemen, GRC's spiritual 1995 handheld follow-up: Tokyo Disneyland: Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour.  Wow, that's a mouthful!
 
In Tokyo Disneyland Mickey and friends are preparing something special for the tour, but just as they are in the planning phase Mickey's pet dog Pluto gets dognapped and disappears.  Mickey asks that his yellow pooch be returned, but he's told that the only way he can get Pluto back is to enter inside the Cinderella Castle and defeat the forces behind it all.
So to ensure that Mickey does not go unprepared in his newest venture, Minnie suggests that Mickey pack a dual helium/water-pack with his neverending supply of water and air balloons; just like the spiritual Super Famicom predecessor.
So not only did GRC make the same game with the same balloon-natured controls, but they both share the same story pretty much?  Minnie's in the intro of both and evaded kidnapping, and Pluto is saved last both times; the only difference is that these are the only main characters this time around and Pete is not responsible for any of it.  =/  ...right.

"Take that!"
In Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken the Cinderella Castle was the very last stage that you got to play in, but in this spiritual sequel the entire game transpires in this not so friendly locale.  If you've never played the game and are curious as to how it plays, the controls are as follows: you move left or right with the Control Pad, to look above or below you (ducking) hold down the up or down respectively, and you use the balloons with the B button; to throw regular water balloons you just press it once, to drop or place big water balloons on a button you press down and B simultaneously, and to fly upward (or glide in any direction) with the helium balloon just hold up and B at the same time until you let go by... letting it go.  When doing the very latter action just make sure you have enough air in your gauge to make it to a hard to normally reach target.
From time to time in each area there are doors you can enter, some leading to the next progressive segment of the area, some leading to exits and/or different rooms, and others leading to (mid)boss fights.  But there are a few particular doors to take note of: if you take the white mirror door, you'll be led to a room where the mirror gives you advice; the black mirror door is not all that friendly; and certain rooms have a character for which you can shop for items with... umm, chocolate chip cookies?  Crackers?  I don't know exactly, but some items you'll find useful in your journey (should you afford and/or find them).

"Hi ghost!  Bye ghost!"
One thing that's very apparent in this game compared to the previous Tokyo Disneyland platformer is its structural layout.  The Super Famicom game focused mostly on being linear, with some branching paths to discover once in awhile; while the spiritual Game Boy follow-up is a bit less than linear unless you're familiar with each areas' layout.  What I mean by that is that since most doors have no symbols on top of them, it's not immediately clear which one will lead to the right path or even which ones will take you to the end of each area.  Each stage consists of two different parts (the stage boss being fought at the end of the second part), and what's interesting is that even if you finished the area in your playthrough you can still go back and revisit it if you wish.

What kind of a tour is this that has sentient
suits of armor trying to endanger your life???  =|
There is a reason for that, and it largely amounts to how you'll stumble across very important items in the game that you can gather in your inventory, accessed via the Select button.  This is actually necessary to prolong your survival and find items that you had no access to before, so make sure to keep an eye out.  On the normal difficulty setting you start with considerably low health and a small balloon gauge, but if you manage to find (or earn) hats with Mickey Mouse ears (I think?) and a couple balloon icons you'll be able to augment your HUD on both counts.  =)  Oh, and be sure to collect those... (bags of) cookies(?) for when you buy things in shops, as they act as your currency.

There's something strange in the neighborhood,
who you gonna call?
Considering the Game Boy's limited technical capabilities, Tokyo Disneyland: Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour has got some of the most incredibly in-depth visuals I've seen on the handheld and it actually looks very great too.  =D  What's cool is that virtually every area has got their own distinct look about them with each subsequent area rarely looking anything like the last.  What especially helps as far as I see is how Cinderella Castle's rooms have got a myriad of wall patterns, with just enough touches of the lighter and darker shades to create a neat sense of lighting and shading.  This is also true of slightly darker rooms and ones that have got lamps.  =)

Fire drakes to be encountered as well
Some of the patterns you see on the walls are bricked ones, others might be made of solid rock, and most times the décor is cleverly designed.  Occasionally, to prevent the wall from being the only thing your looking at, there are lights (which actually emanate light around them) and some objects on the wall, like chains and shields to name a couple.  The handful of times that you find yourself outside the castle might not exactly have all too detailed skyline, but at least the exterior shots are pretty.  It's even better when played on the Super Game Boy peripheral cartridge on the Nintendo 16-bit console, which has different preset monochromatic color schemes for pretty much each room you enter, with a gradient border surrounding it with all the action contained within a neat golden frame.  =)

Enemy goon incoming
Admittedly, if everything was detailed in this monochromatic game it would be hard to make out the characters and enemies, so at least GRC made it easy to tell where the foregrounds and platforms were as well as what said characters and enemies looked like thanks to their simpler designs (by comparison), which is a fair visual balance.  Mickey looks and animates greatly here, with much of his walking, jumping, ducking, and ballooning being lifted from Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken to solid effect, albeit looking like he popped in from a Kemco-fied Mickey Mouse game.  =)  The cinematic stills are fun to look at, and the roster of enemies you fight are decent-looking too: such as ghosts, fire drakes, spiders, crows, living suits of armor, and even mimic chests.  The (mid)bosses are designed good as well, like the queen turned witch from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the boss with the ghosts in the crypt (being preceded by footprints walking downwards to let you know they're coming), the huge dragon boss, the Horned King, and you even (optionally) fight
the one and only Maleficent, who makes a great entrance!  =)  Oh yeah!
 
Creeeeeepy  O~o
The music is good in its own right, and considering its sound quality and the instrumentation of their songs they do a sufficient job of lending atmosphere to a world already brimming with plenty of it.  =)  The Disneyland theme park cue sounds fun in Game Boy format, and works just as perfectly as a way of bookending the game as it is of introducing the title.  The shop theme is playful and fun, the white mirror theme is engaging and welcoming, and the black mirror theme is slightly discouraging (maybe appropriately so), but the real selling point in this aspect is the music for the interior halls of the entirety of Cinderella Castle.  Some of them are of the upbeat variety, but others sound sinister and intense.  The regular boss theme sounds okay, but the best battle theme is the one that plays during the (decisive) second form of the final Horned King battle.
 
No, I missed his head by this much!  =(
Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour has two difficulty settings going for it, and both are substantially different to a certain degree.  The normal difficulty mode, as aforementioned, begins with a small health of five and a small balloon gauge; while the practice mode has you start the game with a full level three balloon gauge with a health of ten, thereby beginning with a small bit of percentage in your inventory.  Other differences include how many balloons it takes to take down enemies and bosses alike, and the normal difficulty (should you find the important item that unleashes the Horned King's true form) has got the full ending with the fireworks on display.  Aside from those small differences though, really, the difficulty honestly feels pretty much the same regardless of the mode you choose: easy.  =<
 
You must be wondering by now why I keep referring to this game as a spiritual follow-up as opposed to just a direct one to Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken on the Super Famicom, despite the very similar elements.
It's basically for the same reason why Quintet's Gaia trilogy of games are considered to be spiritually connected to each other and not direct: and that is despite the handful of subtle elements that tie them together, they are otherwise their own separate entities and can be viewed as such.
 
Take me away, Marahute!
Even though both platformers star Mickey Mouse and have got balloon-natured controls to help you progress, really the only thing that connects the two (aside from the same developing team) is the fact that they both take place in Tokyo Disneyland, or more specifically its Cinderella Castle--which the spiritual Game Boy follow-up has for the bulk of the setting as opposed to the Super Famicom game where the titular area is only in the very last stage.  I'm not saying it makes the game bad if the connection is more indirect, but the point I'm trying to make is that even if there are a couple elements that tie the two together they can still be played and/or enjoyed as I feel it doesn't bring too much attention to the preceding spiritual game to the point of being distracting, which is good.
 
Funny story: months before I imported this game, last Summer I imported Tokyo Disneyland: Fantasy Tour (presuming it was the platformer), under the previous presumption that the original Game Boy had a single Tokyo Disneyland game.  But imagine my immediate surprise when I found out that there were twoXD
Tokyo Disneyland: Fantasy Tour is a series of mini-games made by TOSE and published by Tomy in 1998, and one day I might cover it.  But if you were curious about and wanted to try Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour but could only identify it by cart, go for the one with the orange and chartreuse background.  But from what I noticed it's not as common as Fantasy Tour, so keep an eye out for it.
 
The first time I played Tokyo Disneyland: Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour my initial reaction, considering how much I enjoyed the Super Famicom game, was that of a mixture of satisfaction combined with disappointment.  But after that first time the spiritual Game Boy sequel began to grow on me and I like it quite a bit.  =)
Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken was a very enjoyable game, and part of what made it enjoyable was the widely spacious areas to explore and all the cool tricks you could do with the balloons, especially launching yourself sky high through any of the eight directions.
The initial disappointment with Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour had nothing to do with expecting it to be just like the tangentially connected Super Famicom predecessor, as I knew it was going to be its own thing; yeah, I was a bit sad that that the super balloon throwing and balloon zipping controls were no longer put into effect, but I got past that. =(  But I understand why the controls were simplified: the Game Boy's aspect ratio is considerably smaller than that of a Nintendo 16-bit title, and the areas this time around were smaller and simpler by comparison. 
But by doing so the challenge level was reduced to the point of being easy regardless of the difficulty setting you played, which I began to not mind after awhile.  No, the real thing that drags it back, however, is that it is incredibly short.  The Super Famicom game was at least around two hours long, but this Game Boy title is around thirty minutes in length; frankly that's quite a stark contrast.  Still, I like it for what it is and I do find it fun to play while it lasts.  =)
I liked that the final boss paid a neat homage to The Black Cauldon, and while the Horned King may not have been as epic a battle as that of Horned Pete from the game before it, making up for that was how cool Horned King's second form was (if you got the vital item that makes you access it), brief though it may be.
What I especially appreciated about GRC's spiritual follow-up was how once in awhile there were callbacks to their Super Famicom game; I liked that they brought back the ice-laden room near the end where the only way to cross was by freezing water balloons on the icy spikes, one by one if you had to.  =)  What was also neat was the return of certain enemies, such as the mimic chests and the skeletal warriors.

The outside, it's refreshing
Tokyo Disneyland: Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour is a fun game in its own right, and while it doesn't hold a candle to the preceding Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken in terms of overall quality and challenge, it is good despite its shortcomings.  But as fun as it is, its brevity ultimately is what holds it back from being great, and had there been a few more areas to venture in it would've greatly benefited the experience.  Either way, I liked perusing what areas were available and discovering what you could find when searching thoroughly; and I especially liked how the Super Game Boy added so much with its preset color schemes.  What's even cooler is how once in awhile you would meet up with notable Disney characters--even Marahute (what do you mean you don't know about the Rescuers' Down Under sequel?  You need to watch more '90s Disney movies... the good ones).  =)

Ummm, reflections don't work that way  =/
If you wish to play a good Disney platformer on the original Game Boy then Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour isn't a bad choice to play; not only that, but as far games starring Mickey Mouse games go in said format this is the best one out of all of them in my book (better than anything Kemco Mickey).  If you're craving a long game that's got lots of challenge, you're not going to find it here; but if you're in the mood for non-demanding fun then I'm sure you'll have a good enough time with it.  =)  I've never been to Disneyland, but the game gives a cool idea of what its like,... or rather one of its areas.  It's a tour worth taking.

My Personal Score: 6.5/10
<( ^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^ )>
P.S. Just like my Kirby's Pinball Land review last week, all screenshots for this game were snapped via regular camera mode (and I had to manually try to ensure that they were the correct aspect ratio as best I could, and I think I succeeded more here).  My old laptop was the only one that could load the videos I recorded (but it's gotten to the point of being too slow and unresponsive) while my new laptop could recognize their sounds when I load them up but show no visuals.  This is what it's like for me to not own a capture card.  >_<
 
P.S. 2 As far as games that are also celebrating their twentieth anniversary are concerned: there's Tenchi Sōzō/Terranigma too!  =D  ......... aaaand a certain Mickey Mouse platformer I still need to talk about.
 
P.S. 3 I wish I came up with the anniversary ribbons years ago.  =(  There were opportunities I could've taken advantage of certain games I reviewed on their anniversary years in years past but I didn't.
 
Happy 20th Annivesary,
Tokyo Disneyland: Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour!  =)
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Thank you for reading my review, please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought.  I hope you have a great Summer, take care!  =)
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"Once I destroy my number one enemy and conquer the planets of the entire universe, I, Lord Hater, will become the GREATEST IN ALL THE GALAXY!!!!!"
;-)  That was for the Wander Over Yonder fans  =D

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