When Slide Stars came out last year, I liked the gameplay concept but wasn’t sold on the execution. Flash forward to present day the team have been working on improvements to the water slide platform formula. Mickey Storm and the Cursed Mask learns a lot from its predecessor and fixes quite a few of the issues it had. It then adds in some new ones which are hopefully fixable over time, as there is a good game here to be discovered.
For this game, completely playable in co-op, you’ll play as one of two kids who see their spy parents kidnapped at a water park. You backpack has a robot in it and and suddenly you have all kinds of platforming powers to tackle around 60 levels of water slide carnage. Whilst the game looks like it’s going to be story rich, in reality its the opening few cutscenes and then some stuff towards the end and that’s it.
The meat and potatoes is in the water slide levels themselves. My best description of them is ‘If modern day Sonic’s 2D levels were mazes with multiple paths rather than flowing chutes’. There are three level types but they all have the same type of design. You’ll ride your water float through increasingly tricky mazes of water slides that are colour coded for difficulty level and reward. Yellow is the main trail and green are like pro stunt routes. They’ll largely all get you to the destination but its a great way to give various difficulty levels to whomever plays your game.
Throughout each level you’ll be collecting energy either through collectables or cannisters (as a main quest). Completing levels in a time frame and by not getting hit by enemies adds bonus energy to your score and that energy charges a stone to either gold, silver or bronze for your final score. Optional collectables are keycards and they act as a bit of fun to explore off the beaten track. Often you can see them but they require a bit of forward planning to get to as stunts may be involved.
I say stunts but Mickey Storm is all about momentum. You can jump, double jump and glide for a few seconds and these three moves can help get you height at the end of a slide or a bouncy float. It means you can be quite dexterous but I did find the controls to be inconsistent at times. Sometimes I’d fly up to the roof, other times I’d just bunny hop and I was never quite sure why. Thankfully, these inconsistencies don’t really hamper the gaming experience as you can cheese your way through some of the tighter platforming at times but it did erk me sometimes. You also have a spin attack and can land on some of the enemies heads to defeat them too. I did find some enemies hard to spot as they are either submerged or half submerged in water. The game is colourful and detailed – and that’s largely a very good thing – but occasionally enemies get lost in the colourful world. This is especially true in the second world where a lot of silver is involved. If they aren’t hurting you, landing on your face will do but you have the ability to balance yourself with the bumper buttons on your controller. This works a little too slowly for my personal taste and sometimes I forgot to use it at all as I could often bounce my way along instead. The penalty for recovery is often very small as the game has checkpoints everywhere but I also found the game sometimes would just respawn me exactly where I fell off with no penalty at all.
Whilst aimed at kids, the game has a great take on difficulty. The low bar for entry means you can skip the harder bits by not tackling those slide chutes and you only need a bronze to progress. If you want the challenge, getting all the keycards and gold runs on every level will take time, patience and a bit of luck. I say luck because I experience quite a few crashes on my PS4 version from world 3 onwards. It’d hard lock the game and I could exit to the PS4 menu but occasionally it did hard lock my PS4 too. It certainly put a dampener on things in the volcano world. If that could be sorted, I’d raise the score up a bit.
I enjoyed my time playing Mickey Storm and the Cursed Mask but I also feel like the levels don’t flow quite as well as I’d have liked them too. When I think of water slides, I think of fast, flowing craziness and thankfully this game has more of that than Slide Stars does. This game also has much more maze styled ‘proper platforming’ and the controls don’t lend themselves perfectly to being precise. It’s good fun as a light platformer to let off some steam and have some unique and interesting ideas. I’m really encouraged its a step in the right direction and I think there’s a cult gem waiting if the series gets a new instalment where it borrows perhaps a little more from 2D sonic times.
5% of all Mickey Storm and the Cursed Mask sales goes to War Child.
Review copy provided by developer.
Mickey Storm and the Cursed Mask
A few bugs and some wobbly physics slightly pull down what is a fairly enjoyable platformer that feels different to almost anything else out there.
Water slide platforming still feels unique and fresh.
Additional gliding and attacks makes the game feel more involved.
Great approach to difficulty, allowing everyone to play and then optional trickier sections for those who want them.
Reminds me of the Wipeout TV show.
Way too many crashes on the PS4 version at least.
Controls are momentum based but seem inconsistent to use.
Some level design still feels a bit restrictive when I wanted moments of sonic-esque fluidity.
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