Developed by: Capcom
Published by: Capcom/Nintendo
Feeling Like: The Mario before Mario
I recently viewed a news report about Nintendo from the early 90s. It’s always hilarious going back and watching the initial investigation into an upcoming trend, or fad. Most reporters treat it with a bemused respect, or shaking their heads and hoping the story dies so they can move onto something more important. The sound bite that resonated with me was “more children now can identify Super Mario than Mickey Mouse”, followed by them reluctantly admitting that Mario was here to stay and had even dethroned THE Mickey Mouse.
It cannot be understated how important Walt Disney’s creation was. Mickey was the centerpiece in one of the world’s most innovative, creative and powerful companies in the world. He’s on a retirement circuit now; you rarely see him features in movies or cartoons anymore, but you can’t escape him (or Minnie, or Goofy, or Pluto…) at Disneyland or Disneyworld and that won’t change in the coming decades, or even century. Modern day copyright laws, and the length at which an intellectual property becomes free domain is constantly being updated because there isn’t a chance in hell Disney will ever give up their copyright.
Oddly enough, the only place you’ll consistently see the iconic black ears or hear his charming giggle (ho-ho!) is in video games. The meteoric popularity of Kingdom Hearts was unexpected and now the series spans 14 games. Mickey isn’t a central figure in the main titles, but is certainly a powerful side character and his appearances are given the proper weight.
In the 90s, Mickey’s presence was even more common. Capcom was no stranger to churning out licensed properties for the Super Nintendo and here we have another example of them delivering a solid product that invites the source material in, rather than shove it aside. The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse may appear childish, but it’s not exactly easy. There’s still some challenges to be had, some tricky jumps to traverse and even at a short run time of two hours, David Vallance and I had to relinquish the controller to each other frequently in order to keep our wits sharp and our sanity intact.
This random wizard only appears in the first two levels for some reason, but he does give you three suits: Turban, Firefighter and Mountain Climber. I have to give the game this, I haven’t seen that collection of powerups before or since. Swapping the suits with a touch of a button feels quite a bit like a Mega Man game, but that’s hardly a complaint. The boss fights were challenging, but thanks to Capcom’s pitch perfect controls, they never felt completely unfair. I do remember feeling slighted when I died frequently; the cute and lighthearted atmosphere wasn’t helpful when I was trying to calm down after yet another death.
The Firefighter suit was absolutely my favorite. Before I learned the physical requirements to be a firefighter from my soon-to-be brother in law, I thought I wanted to be one when I got older. It looked easy. If Mickey could do it, why couldn’t I? Of course the ending of The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse employs the always dreadful “it was just a dream!” trope, so that should have clued me in that quelling flames wasn’t in my future.