From the Vault: Mickey Mousecapade (NES)
In the late 80s and through the mid-90s, Disney was a video game powerhouse all its own. Much like today, they didn’t really develop or publish most of their own games, but they did license them out to well-established developers who made a lot of memorable games based on those properties. Mickey Mouse was a superstar of the 16-bit era and pairing him with powerhouse developer Capcom, who made a slew of fantastic games based on various Disney properties was a winning formula. However, before Capcom started that huge string of hits, there was Mickey Mousecapade, which was actually developed bu Hudson Soft and published in the US by Capcom.
Hey, remember that time Maleficent and her goon Pete kidnapped Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Mickey and Minnie Mouse had to rescue her? I don’t think anyone who played Mickey Mousecapade back in the day had any idea what the story was, it’s rather inconsequential to the game really. Though one thing it does kind of canonically establish that is picked up in Kingdom Hearts so many years later is that Mickey Mouse and Maleficent do have a history and that Pete is an underling of hers. Surely coincidence but it is fun to look back and just have it be headcanon that this Mickey and Maleficent/Pete rivalry has been going on for decades.
If you played this game back when it was first released, you might have fond memories of it. You might even loop it in with the 16-bit Mickey Mouse classics like Castle of Illusion and The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse after all those games all came out under the Capcom label and they made so many great games with Disney characters, this had to be another one, right?
Sadly that is not the case. While Hudson Soft is certainly an accomplished developer in their own right, there was just some sort of magic that happened in this era when you combined Disney and Capcom that rarely happened outside of it. In fact, Mickey Mousecapade was the game right before the game that started Capcom’s string of Disney hits, Ducktales, so it’s very possible that because of how Mickey Mousecapade turned out that Capcom decided they should just develop their own Disney games because nearly all of them are significantly better.
If you can’t tell from the images, right off the bat, Mickey Mousecapade simply doesn’t look that good. It looks like what you’d imagine a licensed game would look like because well a lot of them were bad. Nothing close to the Disney Afternoon series of games that would follow shortly after that had fantastic sprites and backgrounds that still hold up really well.
Looks are just one part of the package of course. If the gameplay was great then hey the characters sort of look like the famous characters they represent that’s fine. But what could’ve been even a decently middling platformer is dragged down by lots of slowdown issues that drastically affect reaction time, poor jumping combined with some incredibly cheap hits and honestly lots of parts of the game you just kind of have to cheese your way through to succeed. Minnie is like Tails in the Sonic The Hedgehog games, but even more invincible (so really though, why is she there? The game has no multi-player and you don’t control them independently and they can’t really do any team maneuvers together). So what you end up doing is sort of maneuvering her into a position where she can attack an enemy and Mickey is safe from harm for example. If you know a decent amount of the secrets like where hidden health power-ups are, finishing the game is a slightly easier feat but aside from throwing your stars everywhere and hoping you notice they hit something or looking it up I don’t see how you would know.
The music in Mickey Mousecapade is serviceable but certainly nothing memorable. The worst part is that the tracks are very short and loop often so serviceable can become annoying fairly quickly if you are stuck on a stage for more than a few minutes.
It’s also worth mentioning that assuming you can get through the game, it shouldn’t take you more than thirty minutes. To be fair, many games of the 8-bit era have this issue, you can complete a lot of great NES games in under an hour, so that’s hardly a real knock against it but still worth mentioning if you didn’t know.
Mickey Mousecapade is notable for a couple of different things. It’s the first Disney game for the NES, it does give Minnie Mouse an active role of sorts instead of being kidnapped or staying at home while the guys have all the fun which is rare and it’s the first Disney game Capcom had any involvement in so it may have very well set the stage in a number of ways for the many classics we saw after it based on other Disney properties. However, even by generous 1980s standards, it’s not a particularly good game. Pick it up for you collecting purposes, by all means, it’s not particularly expensive to grab off eBay, but don’t expect to have a great time with it except maybe reveling in how mediocre it is. That’s all for now, see ya real soon!