Game: Mickey Storm and the Cursed Mask
Genre: Platformer, Adventure, Racing
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer|Publisher: Triangle Studios | Orange One
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US Everyone
Price: UK £13.49 | EU € 17,99 | USA $17.99
Release Date: August 24th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to Lion Castle PR
Making A Splash
Mickey Storm and the Cursed Mask is a game with its heart in the right place. A 2D water slide platformer was created to give the younglings a place to escape to, those who were unable to get away this Summer. I think many of us did not get a chance to have a holiday this year (or last year for that matter) and video games have always been a handy bit of escapism. Even if you can only go away for a few hours. Although this game has the best intentions, is this a water slide adventure you or the younglings want to escape to? Let’s get our trunks on and find out.
The plot of the game revolves around young Mickey and his sister Jenny who are on holiday at a water slide park with their parents. Mickey just wants to shoot videos for social media but that’s going to have to wait as his parents have been kidnapped! So it’s up to him and his sister to traverse several water slide themed levels to save them and I guess have a bit of fun in the process. It is a holiday after all.
One thing is for certain, this is an enormous water park with various themed levels like a robot factory, lava area and forest setting. The story and themes feel pretty akin to a modern children’s cartoon. Very simple plot and premise with no particular thrills that make it stand out. This design choice also extends to the game’s graphics. A very standard design like a low budget CGI movie. The colour in general feels a bit muted. The characters themselves look a little creepy when they smile at the end of each level. Overly large smiles that just seem a little too unnatural. But I think you’ll be focusing more on the water slide action than the aesthetics of the game.
Ride the Waves
The idea of the game is you ride an inflatable device across a variety of water slide-like platforms trying to reach the goal of each level. On each level, there are lighting bolt collectables and 5 keys scattered around to collect. The more you collect of the former, the more it helps you get the usual bronze to gold score at the end of the level. Rank high enough on certain levels and you can unlock new inflatables and cosmetics for your characters.
Collecting keys across the levels will unlock gates to access more levels later on though usually, this is not too challenging for the player to achieve. There are a few level designs. One requires you to try to finish the level within a time limit, passing a checkpoint will gain you an additional ten seconds. This design makes collecting things much more difficult with its focus on speed. These were by far the most entertaining levels. Just quick arcade-like and simple.
Another level design is collecting multiple batteries. Here you can take your time and go at your own pace. A good idea in principle but these levels often progress at a snail’s pace. The game also has these horrific boss levels. Here a mask floats around the level trying to attack you while you traverse the levels. You have limited health and often he flies into you in positions you just can’t avoid taking a hit. You also can’t attack the mask until the very end of the level where a single hit will take him down. You only do these levels a few times during the course of the game but they really were not a lot of fun.
Slide Stars 1.5
The developers also created a very similar game last year called Slide Stars. A game that follows the water slide like themes but kept things much more simple, streamlined and dare I say fun (find my review here). Slide Stars was also a significantly shortened experience but I had much more fun playing it. Mickey Storm appears to attempt to build on the formula by creating a longer game.
But in its pursuit of more content, it actually creates a much more mediocre experience. Level designs are repeated constantly. I kept getting this horrible sense of playing déja vu which was later confirmed when playing with my co-op partner. Level themes and designs long outstay their welcome and it was a real slog to get through portions of this game. This is not helped by the controls and mechanics feeling loose and flimsy.
Slip and Slide
The controls are quite the muddle. Now I understand taking control of an inflatable in a water slide in real life is tough but that doesn’t mean it needs to extend to a video game. Movement is flimsy and speed is inconsistent. Sometimes you’re moving across a flow of water gaining speed as you would expect. But if that momentum drops it’s very hard to pick it up again especially if you’re going through loops. Initially, in the game, I found myself getting stuck in the environments all the time. When jumping I probably spent more time upside down than the right way up.
You can balance yourself with the shoulder buttons but this felt unnatural while moving at such high speeds. This was slightly elevated when I unlocked the double jump but it still didn’t create a simple pick and play experience. You can also unlock a glide move and an attack move. Though jumping on enemies heads seemed more reliable than risking taking on enemies head-on with this move. To top it all off I had many playthroughs where the game just crashed or froze.
The game also features a local co-op. On the surface, it feels like co-op really should enhance the overall experience of the game despite its niggles. Unfortunately, this also comes with problems. Since the game moves at a fairly speedy pace on the water slides it’s very likely one player will get in front of the other quite quickly. But for bizarre reasons the game sometimes tends to favour the player who is behind.
So if you’re a player trying to get ahead to help your child or partner who is stuck on a segment you will instead warp back to them instead of them warping to you. This is a very frustrating design, particularly for casual gamers.
Conclusion – Oh Mickey What a Pity
Mickey Storm and the Cursed Mask feels like it could have comfortably been a fun arcade-style water slide ride of a game. But it’s held back by fiddly controls, frustrating co-op design and an incredibly repetitive level design. Less would have been more at this park. I appreciate this is more marketed towards the younger audience but I’m not sure this will hold their attention for very long. The developers were so close to making something pretty darn brilliant and maybe with some patching, it may not be too late for Mickey. There is some fun to be had for sure but this is a water slide adventure best approached with caution at this stage.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure
If you do take the splash with the game 5% of the sales of the game are currently going to War Child. As I received this as a review copy, I have decided to donate some money to War Child myself. Even if you don’t buy this game please consider making a donation to a charity.