After Hours: Disney Illusion Island

Main Street Electrical Arcade
4 min readJan 29, 2024

I didn’t get around to playing every Disney game release in 2023, and easily my biggest gap came with the release of Disney Illusion Island at the tail end of July. To be honest, I was deep into Final Fantasy XVI at the time and still wouldn’t really finish that for nearly another month (a future title for this series, Aliens: Dark Descent, came out mere days before FFXVI hopefully look for that in the next few months). So it seemed like The best thing to do was wait for a more opportune time to write about this Metroidvania starring Mickey and pals.

Lo and behold, Disney Illusion Island has recently been nominated or has received several industry rewards, gotten a significant update or two, and as of this writing up on sale on the Nintendo Switch until February 7th. So, is Disney Illusion Island worth diving into in a time where if you aren’t really into stuff like Like Dragon: Infinite Wealth or Tekken 8 there isn’t much new to play?

The basic setup for the story is fun, with beings thinking Mickey and friends are heroes because they watched their cartoons, along the same lines as stuff like Three Amigos or Galaxy Quest. Though I don’t think they do nearly enough with the idea, it’s merely there in the intro and outside of Donald’s initial protests (i.e. hey guys we aren’t heroes we just play them on TV), it’s never addressed again.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of humor to be had in Disney Illusion Island, however. In fact, the game strikes a pretty good balance of being fun and whimsy while having some very smart humor, mostly in the form of Donald who is just exasperated at nearly every turn.

Disney Illusion Island is also beautifully animated, just brimming with fun level designs and color and personality, especially with the four characters you can play as (Daisy is oddly absent for no particular reason). It should be mentioned that the characters have no gameplay differences, but they still have fun individual animations and get their own distinct versions of each power-up (i.e. only Goofy gets a giant fork to help him wall jump) as you earn them.

At its core, Disney Illusion Island is a 1–4 player Metroidvania. There’s a large map where you slowly gain access to more and more powers and these powers allow you access to new areas, also you might wanna backtrack to areas you passed by previously that seemed completely unreachable. The game is pretty balanced so it’s not a whole lot more difficult with one player than it is with multiple players, though an online option would’ve been great. I sort of understand that clearly the game is made so small children can play and you don’t want them experiencing potentially awful online people but other games that don’t allow players to talk to each other pull off online, this could do that as well.

I’ve seen some complaints about the lack of difficulty even as an option and while it’s true that Disney Illusion isn’t particularly difficult, I’d say it’s more challenging than it first appears, it’s just very generous with its checkpoints and certainly far less difficult than many of its ilk but those game are designed for experienced fans of that genre. Disney Illusion Island is designed to introduce players to the Metroidvania genre and in that respect, I think it succeeds wonderfully as a fun and breezy experience.

So, six months after it first came out, if you are looking for something to take up a little time in your gaming schedule (and I mean a little, you can probably finish the game in 6–8 hours, maybe closer to 10 if you are trying to make sure you get every single collectible) and especially if you need something for your Nintendo Switch, which after a stellar 2023, is really winding down its release schedule in anticipation of Nintendo’s net console, now is a great time to pick up Disney Illusion Island even if it wasn’t on sale, which it still is through February 7th on the eShop so might as well grab it now.

This post was more of a very brief break from hiatus specifically because Disney Illusion Island went on sale and I really had been meaning to check it out for awhile now. Unless something similar happens with another game or really big news breaks (I had thought about doing a write-up for Indiana Jones and The Great Circle but honestly that can wait til we’ve seen more of it) I probably will be back on hiatus until the end of February or very early March but that’s not that far off so see ya real soon!

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Main Street Electrical Arcade

All about Disney games, past present and future. Mix of reviews, opinion pieces and anything else that fits here.