At over 50, Mickey Mouse is still performing better than most superhero types. Imagine the lifestyle of this world famous rodent; girls, money and copious amounts of ripe cheese; he's got it all, except the wrinkles (bah)!
This is Gremlin's second release based around the wonderful characters of Walt Disney, the first being the somewhat childish Basil The Great Mouse Detective. Gremlin has the licence to all Disney's characters so there's bound to be more on the way - and if they're all as good as this the world will be a better place to live.
Four nasty witches in the pay of the evil Ogre King have swiped Merlin the Magician's magic wand and cast a hugely evil spell of Poll Tax over Disneyland, leaving the peasants with no money (heard that somewhere before?). Just to make things seem even more bleak the witches have broken the Wand into four pieces and hidden them at the top of each tower in Disney Castle, where they're currently holed up. A birrova problem I think you'll agree.
With a cry of 'Never fear, Mickey's here!,' in walks our unlikely hero, volunteering to get back the four pieces of wand and so restore at least some normality to the land. He bounds into the game with vigour, determination, a hammer and a water pistol only to be killed immediately because he hadn't waited for us to explain the game properly (ha!)
Within each of the castle's towers there are platforms which are connected by ladders. The platforms are patrolled by minions of the Ogre King. There are two types of these; ogres which can be beaten to death with Mickey's hammer, and ghouls and spirits which can be squirted back to the grave with the water pistol. Pressing the space-bar toggles the weapons. Bashing ogres is easy enough; squirting the bad guys is more of a problem, as the water pistol occasionally runs out of ammo (touching Ogres and ghoulies also results in a loss of water), and when it does, it means instant death!
Luckily, when you squirt/beat the living daylights out of one of the meanies, their earthly remains mutate into some surprisingly useful gadget or other. This can be a smart bomb (which looks like a rocket), a sort of levitation spell which stops you falling off platforms (an eagle), a speed-up spell (a flash of lightning), a slow spell (which, oddly enough, slows down the monsters), and a snarly grarrrrrr face (which scares all the meanies so badly that they all run away from you!) to name but a lot. However, nine times out ten (well, probably), you'll be presented with lil' bottle of wickedly powerful enchanted water which can be stuffed in your pistol (fnar!) and squirted all over the place (fnar, fnar!). Alternatively you can just bonk the ogres (fnar, fnar) with your hammer. Occasionally you meet a super-'ard ogre who's twice the size of Mickey- bash 'im once, and he splits into two normal size meanies who can be disposed of in the usual way (bof, pow!).
On most of the platforms there is a door which acts as a passageway into the unknown realm of the sub-game. To complete each tower, all of its sub-games must be completed. Once a sub-game is finished the door boards itself up and you can't get back in. (The monsters can't get back out either so that's not altogether a bad thing). Keys are naturally a vital pre-requisite to getting through the door in the first place: you start with two and can collect more should any of the monsters happen to leave them behind.
The first of the four sub-games likely to be discovered is a pac-man type flip-screen maze game in which Mickey has to pick up a hammer, some nails and some wood. Dotted about are one or two black balls which guard each screen, hearts which give you extra lives (you have three lives on each sub-game - when all are lost you return to the platform) and power pills which give a few seconds invulnerability. Once all the bits are collected then it's out through the exit and off to find the next challenge.
Mickeys graphics are excellent. Obviously they're not quite Disney standard. but they're as good as you're going to see on a Spectrum screen. The sound is jolly: loads of bright breezy tunes help you through the 48K version and though the colour isn't used too liberally it certainly adds flavour. Gameplay is only marred by the maze sub-game which gets incredibly tedious after a few goes - the others make up for it heartily, though. There is plenty of variation and challenge in this game, which could have been as boring as a George Michael L.P. (well, maybe not that bad, but you get the idea...). We reckon it's well worth forking out for.
Violence, waterpistols and cute lickle rodents. What better night's entertainment could you ask for (fnar)?