Developer: Sega
Price: $9.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina, iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Castle of Illusion, a modern remake of the Sega Genesis platforming hit, has made a surprise landing on iOS after launching on console and PC not long ago. It’s certainly a welcome addition to the platform.

CastleOfIllusion-6This is a 2.5D platformer in that it does contain mostly 3D characters along a 2D plane, but moments where 3D movement is possible do pop up and are parts of some of the game’s cooler moments – like a puzzle where players must discover if tiles they’re running on are fake or not by looking into a mirror. So no, it’s not just a straight-up paint job on the original game. It’s been modernized, but it still has enough of that classic flavor to it. This is not just in looks: many of the original enemies and bosses are still here in some form, but the game has the trappings of a kind of late 8-bit and early 16-bit platformer. There’s that feeling of rigidity to the way that levels are arranged and laid out that makes it have just enough of an old-school feel while feeling loose and new.

As a game that originated as a console and PC title, the flash and polish really come through. The game looks fantastic on Retina displays, runs smoothly, and is incredibly detailed. This is a fantastic port job. The controls use a virtual joystick which is, well, a virtual joystick – a bit loose but it does an okay job at the proceedings. Having the ability to tap anywhere to jump and to just hit a button to toss projectiles helps to keep things simple and effective. Still, gamepad support would be fantastic.

CastleOfIllusion-7Castle of Illusion isn’t necessarily inordinately difficult, but it does put a bit of resistance to players where they have to take some care in trying to tackle the levels. Its platforming can be challenging, and its boss fights require a bit of patience. Again, it’s that great mix between the old ways of doing things and the new that this game just absolutely nails.

I hope to see more games like this on iOS for multiple reasons. One: I like games that mix just enough of retro and modern mechanics and aesthetics to get the best of both worlds. Two: as a game made for consoles and PCs, and selling at a price point that’s cheaper than those platforms but more expensive than the going rate for mobile games, this helps to mature the platform as a whole. There’s a lot to like about Castle of Illusion, and it’s well worth picking up.

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