Co-op platformers are always a chance to get friends together and speed through worlds causing chaos as you go. Popular titles like Super Mario or Kirby will immediately come to mind, but Disney Illusion Island recreates the experience as a Metroidvania along with additional steps taken to make sure younger players get the most enjoyment out of it. This Disney Illusion Island Review will help you understand the adventure that awaits!
Disney Illusion Island stars Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy who have all been lured to the island of Monoth. Toku, leader of the Hokuns, a race of gerbil-like creatures have brought Mickey and his friends here to help them recover the three Tomes of Knowledge.
These magical Tomes are said to hold limitless knowledge and have been stolen by the bosses of each of the three biomes of Monoth. With the promise of getting to call themselves Heroes the group set about on their adventure to right the wrongs of the world.
Disney Illusion Island starts strong with a charming animation style and fast-paced and witty dialogue between Mickey and the crew. Mickey and Minnie's wit is matched well with Goofy's general lack of awareness, and Donald's persistent refusal of the call to action. I was actively laughing at the hijinks of the cast through this cutscene and throughout the rest of the game. Some of the angles, like Goofy's love of food, were pretty one-note throughout but worth a cheap laugh here and there.
Through your Monoth journey, there are a few other NPCs you'll meet, such as Mazzy the alligator who creates new items for you, and Jido a robot that will reveal sections of the map to you. After getting the information dump at the beginning of the story the rest of the game you'll be interacting with NPC about what's immediately around them, with some more true story moments at the end of the game.
Monoth is a massive Metroidvania world. Where Mickey starts in the middle of the map, the Library, you'll get to explore the far jungle reaches, technological mountaintops, and the dark depths of the ocean below.
Early on Mickey and his friends only have the ability to run and jump limiting their exploration to Pavonia, the biome of plants. As each pathway seems to lead you closer and closer to a dead end you'll run into Mazzy who will give you an item enhancing your character with new traversal abilities. You'll end up with your standard set of abilities such as a glide, ground stomp, and the ability to swim. Disney Illusion Island does a great job showing you enough hints as to what you're missing early that with each new ability, you'll have the desire to backtrack.
One aspect of Disney Illusion Island that did seem a bit strange was how slow the movement of the characters was. With the size of the world and the time it took to traverse it always felt like the ability to sprint was a button I was forgetting to press or an ability just around the corner. Returning to areas before the end of the game is a pain as it involves traversing the whole world.
One of the greatest abilities of the game is Fast Travel, which is only unlocked in the final moments of the game. It's good for end-game collecting, but for anyone who isn't aware and that has been backtracking through the game you'll be kicking yourself at the end.
Unlike other Metroidvania titles, there's no focus on combat in Disney Illusion Island, the challenges of the game are related to platforming and puzzles related to moving platforms, switches, or other world hazards. Just because there's no combat doesn't mean there aren't enemies around, you just have to avoid them instead of dealing with them.
A lot of these puzzles remain simple, even the optional challenges that lead to the many collectibles in the game, but by the end of the game, the difficulty definitely ramped up. Don't expect Celeste, but for the target audience, there should be a worthy level of exploration and challenge.
For those who do want to explore every nook and cranny, you'll want to return to previous areas for missed secrets behind invisible walls and areas you can reach with new abilities. Each collectible will reveal itself on your map as you see them but haven't collected them which allows you to get an easy glance of the full map to see where you need to backtrack to.
Collectibles are EVERYWHERE in Disney Illusion Island too. It's difficult to move to a new screen without tripping over the orbs that can increase your health, a Hidden Mickey among the backdrop, or retro memorabilia that references old Disney cartoons.
For many the sheer number of collectibles might seem tiring, but for anyone willing to backtrack and hunt down every nook and cranny you'll be at this for a while.
Co-op allows four players to explore the island of Monoth allowing characters to move through spaces independently of one another, or use one of the varied assistance abilities. Players who are higher up can drop ropes for others to catch up, or can stand at edges ready to vault players who approach them.
These are simple features that help players feel connected as they're working to explore this world. This also helps to offer assistance to those who may have difficulties with longer platforming or traversal sections, especially where abilities like Wall Jumps come into play. It's a very nice touch on such a player-friendly game.
The entire adventure is wrapped up in a gorgeous 'Saturday Morning Cartoon' art style. Every location is filled with color and unique background decorations. The black and white characters leave a trail of particles as they walk around the world helping to keep them differentiated between what's going on in the foreground and background. It really was a shame that there was so little in terms of fully animated cutscenes because you could tell how much work had been done for them.
Disney Illusion Island Review - Final Verdict
On its initial reveal Disney Illusion Island filled me with hope for a Rayman spiritual successor, what we got was that but targeted at a younger demographic. You won't find the same platforming difficulty or need for quick reactions, but the quality of work is still very much present. This is an excellent first experience in Metroidvania for younger fans of Mickey Mouse who might have previously enjoyed Mario games.
Disney Illusion Island was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the developer over the course of 7 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- Saturday morning carton artstyle
- Impressive number of abilities
- Slow movement
- Very late quick travel