Navigating the water slides in Mickey Storm and the Cursed Mask is like playing Sonic the Hedgehog with Subbuteo. Riding an inflatable ring, unicorn or whatever else you unlock doesn’t get any easier when you run out of water. Even when you do have water, water aids aren’t synonymous with platforms games.
But that’s what this is – a platform game, and immediate comparisons (notably the bits where you get slapped on the back and propelled forward in a loop-the-loop at blistering speeds) point to Sonic, a touch of Spy Kids, and tickled with Toobin’ – but an inflated reference.
The premise is simple: Mickey and his sister, Jenny, are on holiday at a water park with their parents when the evil Dr Fisher kidnaps the latter. It transpires that their parents are super spies, and Fish-Face is the enemy. The kids take to this predicament like a duck to water (chutes), and aim to rescue their fossils, putting an end to the evil Fisher and his wannabe Crash Bandicoot mask.
Accompanying them on their mission is A.I. B.U.D.D.Y., who informs them how to thwart Dr Fisher with amulets and abilities – the trusty double-jump, a gliding feature with an Inspect Gadget-like rotor, and spinning attack. Each level has you sliding through multiple water chutes, collecting optional goodies to unlock cosmetic items, improving your overall score and beating the clock. Granted, collecting everything is optional, but that’s what proves the biggest challenge.
This is a kids title, but perhaps for older ones. Mickey Storm and the Cursed Mask is pretty merciful, though it’s hard to collect all items, let alone find them, especially with little fingers. I’m insinuating younger children, not Hobbits, so don’t be sensitive. When viewing other content for the game (it’s been out a few months), other players were predominantly older, so naturally, found it easy in places. Just be mindful that this is targeted at kids, but there aren’t any difficulty modes (nor a way to exit the game!) from the menu to lower the challenge.
The toughest part is the mechanics. Imagine an inflatable on a water chute? Good. Now, imagine that on a flat surface and picture how to thrust forward or jump up to the platform above. It boils down to that momentum thing again, timing your jumps to be forever in motion. Also, you need to make ample use of balancing, as tapping the shoulder buttons will ensure you don’t wipe out (potentially depleting your health). However, when applied correctly, this tactic can flip you around a ledge that you’d otherwise have been unable to reach with a jump.
I had mixed feelings on Mickey Storm and the Cursed Mask initially. Much like Lion Castle’s Taxi Chaos, I can’t fault the visuals. I can imagine a child version of me lapping this up, but even as a cynical old adult (I’m playing up to that – I’m an optimist), it’s eye candy. The colours and animations stand out, and the indoor water park setting resonates for any (big) kid. It just takes some time to unlock the costumes, and while that isn’t everyone’s motivation for playing a game, owning an inflatable unicorn was on the agenda for my little girl, and it’s my duty to ‘win’ it for her.
Due to the imprecision of dry sliding, it caused constant drops in the game’s tempo, and it got to the point where I’d steam through a level to finish it, bunny-hopping around with the best intentions to grab that elusive key just proved too irritating. There’s that element again of it being about choice, and if you’re inclined to do the levels first, then come back to clear up, you can. That said, when you get a knack for speeding through the levels and wiping out because you didn’t press the balance button in time, it can burst your bubble as well as your inflatable.
Considering all these frustrations, it’s a fun game when you’re patient with it and learn the mechanics. I’d suggest that it’s better suited for older children, screaming streamers and handsome writers who aren’t afraid to drench their ego through challenging tasks to win the ultimate prize: an inflatable unicorn. Then again, I had my eyes on the flamingo. It’s a good game when you familiarise yourself with the levels and physics.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Mickey Storm and the Cursed Mask was inspired by those families cooped up during lockdown. The idea was to celebrate the holidays, albeit in an indoor water park and without restraint as your parents have been kidnapped. If only. Best of all, 5% of all revenue goes towards Lion Castle’s chosen charity, War Child. It’s a fantastic cause, and while I don’t expect it to influence your purchase, it’s money well spent.