An all-new platformer arrived on Nintendo Switch this summer from Dlala Studios and Disney. The Fab Four — Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy — are the stars of Disney Illusion Island, a co-op adventure across a whimsical land of colorful creatures. You can play solo or with up to three of your friends to save the day as a powerful threat looms nearby. The game features hand-drawn animation, an original score, and the real voice actors behind these beloved characters. Available exclusively on Nintendo Switch, Illusion Island is jam-packed with surprises, friends, and foes. The more secrets you discover, the greater the reward!
Of course, I preordered a copy of Illusion Island to have it at my door as soon as it dropped and cleared my schedule to play the game all weekend long. Read on to find out what was discovered in the journey through the biomes of Monoth with Mickey and friends.
Minor spoilers ahead.
Disney Illusion Island Overview
- Platform: Nintendo Switch
- Developer: Dlala Studios
- Publisher: Disney Electronic Content
- Genre: Platform, Adventure, Fantasy
- Modes: Single-player or Multiplayer (Up to 4)
- Rating: E (Everyone)
- Warnings: Mild fantasy violence, photosensitivity warning
- Release date: July 28, 2023
The Fab Four are searching for their perfect picnic spot when they “stumble” into Monoth, a wondrous land of magic and mystery. It’s there they meet Toku, the leader of the tiny — and adorable — Hokuns. Toku has an important mission for the group: Return three stolen magical books (Tomes) that keep the balance of Monoth in check. They have to track down the thieves in the three biomes to retrieve the Tomes and bring them to the Library, the central hub of the island.
BIOMES OF MONOTH:
- Pavonia: The Biome of Botany – Enclosed within the wings of a peacock called “The Highness,” Pavonia is a harmonious, earthy, and lush environment of flora and fauna.
- Gizmopolis: The Biome of Engineering – This topsy-turvy city is made up of discarded parts and the robots and non-robots that live there don’t exactly see eye-to-eye.
- Astrono: The Biome of Astronomy – In this gravity-defying biome, the moon helped to form the sea after a galactic collision. Take a dive into moon juice and explore the depths of The Sky Below.
Disney Illusion Island is a side-scrolling platformer with a fantasy-adventure storyline and 2D animation. The game is full of a variety of enemies that sting, shock, slime, shoot fire, and more. However, you fight without fighting. Playing as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, or Goofy, you have to use timing and strategy to get past the creatures in each biome. Then, you’ll use that same skill to beat the big bosses waiting for you at the end. If you lose, well… You’ll pick up at your last checkpoint, which likely won’t be too far away. There will also be a glaring red X on your map to let you know where you last met your demise.
Along your journey, you meet helpful friends and pick up all the necessary abilities to complete the game. They include higher jumps, swinging, rebounding (bouncing off the walls), downward slams, gliding, and swimming. Because you don’t learn every skill you need in order, you’ll have to double-back to reach spots you couldn’t get to the first time around. Many of these places you’ll return to in each biome contain secret items, including:
- Glimts – Flame-like and usually found in groups of three, glimts are scattered throughout the biomes and allow you to unlock Monoth lore and other achievements.
- Tokuns – These collector cards give insight into residents and creatures of Monoth that you’ll see — and sometimes interact with — throughout the game.
- Mickey Memorabilia – Collect satchels of swag featuring figures from iconic Mickey Mouse cartoons.
- Hidden Mickeys – In true Disney fashion, tracking down hidden Mickey-shaped symbols throughout the biomes is on your to-do list.
Every time you open Illusion Island, you have a chance to select your character and level of difficulty. Choose wisely because you won’t be able to swap characters in the middle of an open game. However, if you suddenly want to play as Donald instead of Goofy, all you have to do is reach a checkpoint (there are plenty around) to save, exit the game, and then reopen it to pick up where you left off with a different character. There are three save files in total. Once you’ve completed a slot, you can reopen the file to explore or complete unfinished accomplishments, such as gathering secret items.
Disney Illusion Island Playthrough Recap
- Character: Minnie
- Time: 17:52:52
- Most Challenging Areas: The Shallows, Gizmopolis
- Protip: Found all hidden Mickeys, Tokuns, Memorabilia, and Glimts prior to returning tomes
I haven’t played a Mickey-centric game since Epic Mickey, so I was thrilled when the news came out about Disney Illusion Island. However, it was my mistake to start playing so late on the day of release. Once I started, I didn’t put the controller down until my eyes were threatening me with sleep.
The plot is introduced over eight minutes worth of cut scenes featuring the Fab Four arriving in Monoth. I kid you not, the graphics are so crisp that I briefly forgot I was playing a game and not watching an animated series. The art style has bold coloring similar to the Mickey Mouse Disney Shorts that wrapped on July 28 (Yes, the game release day!); but Mickey and friends have updated silhouettes and, in some ways, attire. The storyline has twists, surprises, and laugh-out-loud jokes that made the plot-driven cut scenes enjoyable. Additionally, there are some really cool Unification scenes activated by the Tomes that you’ll discover as you play.
As far as gameplay goes, you’re walked through and reminded of controls for each special ability by default. If you don’t want constant help, you can turn off tutorial popups under Settings. Many moves play off one another, so combos come intuitively. The enemies range in levels of difficulty, and there were times when I’d sacrifice a heart just to bypass them. (Specifically, the one that shoots fireballs. Ugh.) Navigating the biomes is puzzle-solving fun, even when it comes to the boss battles.
Illusion Island forces you to slow down to consider the best method of getting from Point A to Point B. I know I can beat the time of my first playthrough since I lost hours searching for hard-to-find items. Eventually, I want to try a speed run and see how much of a difference it makes.
Overall, I had a great time playing Illusion Island. If you enjoy Mickey Mouse cartoons, then you’ll likely enjoy this game, too. I thought the handheld mode made the details a bit too small, but I mostly played on my TV and my eyes might’ve just been used to it. I’d put Illusion Island into the cozy category, not because it’s super chill throughout, but because the game almost requires you to play it at a measured pace. The game is also repeatable in that you can challenge yourself with higher difficulties. Playing with friends also carries its own set of challenges in itself. Once you complete the game (secret items and all), I highly recommend checking out the gallery for concept art and more. Good luck on your adventure!
Tips & Tidbits
- If you think a wall might be a secret passage, try it out just in case.
- Hidden Mickeys can be hard to spot, especially when they’re as tiny as a leaf on a vine.
- Can’t find a hidden space that you’re sure you’re missing? Looking up might do the trick.
- If you’re having trouble locating items, zoom in on the map in case items or spaces you overlooked appear.
- When in doubt on your search for Hidden Mickeys, pay close attention to the Hidden Mickey Tell for a clue.
- You can increase the difficulty of Hidden Mickey hunting by turning off the Hidden Mickey Tell altogether in the settings.