I love Mickey Mouse. Always have. Growing up on Disney movies and games, Mickey Mouse is a charming reminder of simpler times. Mickey Mouse games were typically simple, fun little platformers that could be cleared with minimal effort. They were easy, sure, but they were FUN.
And then came Mickey Mania.
Mickey Mania is a 1994 game developed by Traveler’s Tales and initially released on the SNES, Genesis, and Sega CD. It pays tribute to the legacy of Mickey Mouse, featuring stages based on his most famous cartoons throughout history. Sounds fun, right?
Mickey Mania is one of those “EVERYTHING WANTS YOU DEAD” games, where, naturally, every animal, person, and inanimate object has the sole purpose of trying to murder the shit out of you. From chickens to steam whistles to fucking MUSICAL NOTES, everything is out to kill you. You can jump on things or throw marbles to attack, however, certain enemies hurt you if you jump on them, and the only way to find that out is by trying.
The game looks fantastic. The colors are vibrant (well, excluding the mainly black-and-white Steamboat Willie stage) and the stages are gorgeous, perfectly mimicking the cartoons they represent. The character animations are fluid and the sprites are large and detailed. However, this creates another huge problem. Since the sprites are so big, the screen covers a smaller area of the stage when compared to, say, Super Mario World. This means that you can’t see what’s coming ahead, and often results in you taking a hit. And the game throws so much shit at you that this ends up being a major problem.
The first boss is… two boxes, I guess. The goal is to destroy four gears with your marbles. They drop bombs and springs, which you use to hit the higher gears. However, Mickey’s floaty jumping. slow walk speed, and large size make it annoying to avoid the bombs, which hurt you simply by touching you.
…they explode into bones when killed. These bones cover a huge radius, and Mickey’s too big to avoid them unless he goes back a bit. This creates an annoying pattern of killing a skeleton, then walking backwards about 5 or 6 paces to avoid the bones, and then continuing on your way. Jumping on them is too risky, so you have to use marbles, which will run out. And if you just try to ignore them, they explode anyway. Wonderful.
And then, without any warning, you’re suddenly in a minecart (or gurney, rather) segment. This isn’t like Donkey Kong Country, where you at least know it’s coming ahead of time… the game just drops you in without any instruction. If this is your first time doing it, you WILL die. And really, unless you have great reflexes, the only way you’re going to survive this segment is by playing over and over until you memorize it.
Not long after, you need to ride in a tiny elevator up a shaft flanked by skeletons. Remember when I mentioned how hard it was avoiding the bones? Well try doing that shit in an elevator smaller than a puppy’s nutsack.
By the time you get to the Mad Doctor, you’re beat to hell. He throws beakers, which are just as hard to avoid as the bones, and overall you’re pretty much fucked unless you’ve played the level enough to memorize every enemy and hazard ahead of time.
Mickey Mania is infuriating. The fantastic graphics and music are hampered by frustrating difficulty, poor control, overly large sprites, and general bullshit. This is a game that rips out your childhood, pisses on it, and teaches you that the world is a cruel place and you’re going to die alone and in anguish.
I can only think of one SNES game that gave me more grief.