Disney has been in the middle of a gaming renaissance in recent years, issuing out major licensing deals and putting out some of its own hits. Still, Disney Games surprised fans when a recent Nintendo Direct unveiled a Switch-exclusive adventure starring Mickey Mouse called Disney Illusion Island. On the surface, it looks like a platformer inspired by the likes of Rayman and Ori and the Blind Forest. The game wasn't ready for a hands-on demonstration just yet, but Shacknews was still able to visit the Disney campus in Glendale, CA to take a closer look at what Dlala Studios is putting together.
Disney Illusion Island is styled, both artistically and aesthetically, like a modern day Mickey Mouse short. Those who have watched any of these cartoons on Disney+ or any of Disney's various channels know that these are more madcap and off-the-wall than the famed mascot's golden era. Jokes and visual gags come a mile a minute. For its story, Disney Illusion Island looks to capture much of that spirit complete with an original musical score inspired by Disney's rich history of classic cartoons and theme parks.
Players will find themselves on a strange world called Monoth, summoned there with the promise of a grand picnic. Unfortunately for Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy, this is all a ruse. The Monoth citizens are facing a world-ending crisis and, having heard of Mickey and company's past heroic exploits, have reached out to them for help. In their efforts to avert cataclysmic disaster, players must find three missing magical Tomes and defeat the thieves who have absconded with them.
This journey will take players into the three biomes of Monoth. For this demonstration, we were shown part of the snowy biome, specifically Pavonia (Head of the Highness) which extended out into the sky. In addition to standard platforming, Mickey and friends need to use parts of each environment to help them traverse. In this case, they could ride air streams in order to reach elevated areas or glide across long distances. What's interesting here is that the trek back could be just as treacherous as the way forward. After defeating a boss, Mickey and friends had to return back the way they came, which involved approaching hazards slightly differently. There is fast travel in the form of biome teleporters, but there aren't a lot of them and they won't take players deep into the heart of their respective territory.
There was a surprising difficulty spike along the way, as many corners of Monoth are filled with enemies and environmental hazards. It should be noted that there are a few ways to both reduce and enhance how tough the game can be. In terms of design mechanics, players will come across mailboxes. These will act as checkpoints for both when the player saves and also when a character "gets stamped" (there's no "death" in this Disney cartoon). Players can take a certain amount of hits by default, but this setting can be adjusted on the character select screen. That means it's possible to set health to infinite for younger players or beginners while grizzled veterans can set their health to as low as two hits. Best of all, these are individual settings, so when parents opt to play co-op with their kids, everyone can have their own health options. Sadly, speaking of co-op, this looks to be local play only, so don't expect to team up with friends online.
Throughout the game and across each cutscene, Disney Illusion has that Mickey cartoon aesthetic. Players will meet original characters like Uncle Steve, who will help maintain the island's machines, and Jido, who will provide maps to the players (on pieces of toast, naturally). The game's rogues are also original creations, like the Pea Hen, which is a giant bird boss that strikes across the sky's air streams.
There's a lot more that players can expect to see in Disney Illusion Island. We were shown only a brief glimpse of the astronomy biome, which features ideas like constellation platforms and cosmic foes. Up to four friends can expect to experience this journey this summer when Disney Illusion Island comes exclusively to Nintendo Switch on July 28.
This preview is based on a hands-off demo played by the game's developers on the Disney campus in Glendale, CA. Snacks were provided.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Disney Illusion Island looks like a playable Mickey Mouse short