Mickey Mousecapade is Capcom’s first entry in the Disney NES series, though it had absolutely nothing to do with the development of the game. Hudson developed and published the game in Japan, while Capcom later published it in America. The Japanese name, Mickey Mouse, still appears on the title screen, though it’s missing its subtitle, which translates to “Adventure in the Mysterious Kingdom”.
Mickey Mousecapade is a very simplistic platformer. Mickey and Minnie explore five different stages while avoiding a variety of enemies pulled from the Disney universe. Initially, Mickey and Minnie cannot attack until they find a star item hidden in the first stage. The first one only allows Mickey to throw a single star across the screen, while the second one enables Minnie to shoot simultaneously with Mickey. It really makes no sense why the developers decided to force you to find these items, rather than just giving you the ability to do so from the very beginning. The player never has to find another star powerup after they’ve been collected, even upon death. Additionally, it’s possible to skip the second one, rendering Minnie completely useless. It’s not game-breaking, but it’s a foolish decision no matter how it’s looked at. Minnie is also a pain to deal with. Minnie mirrors everything Mickey does, from movement to attacking. She can’t be hurt by monsters, but she can die to pitfalls. What’s worse, if Minnie dies, it instantly kills Mickey, even though he’s better off without her. It’s also impossible to move to another screen in the level unless Minnie is right behind Mickey. It’s likely to jump on a series of platforms, only to have Minnie miss a jump right before the exit of the screen and fall underneath Mickey. When this happens, you have to hop down, grab Minnie, and repeat the process all over again. It’s another poor design choice that could have been easily avoided. Some enemies even kidnap Minnie, forcing Mickey to find a hidden room in the stage to reclaim her. Minnie’s absence makes life much easier, but you can’t leave the stage until she’s been found. Once the room has been located, Mickey has to touch one of several creepy statues. If you’re lucky, you’ll touch the right one and have Minnie returned to you. If you touch the wrong one, you’ll be forced to leave the room and find it all over again. Again, this is a headache that players could do without.
As bad as she is, it’s also fairly easy to abuse her. Since Minnie can’t take damage, it’s possible to position her so that she does all the fighting while Mickey stays out of harms way. This is especially important considering some of the later levels have extremely cheap enemy placement and attack patterns.
The overall presentation of Mickey Mousecapade is passable. It’s an early NES game, so the graphics and sound aren’t top of the line. Many of the stages are colorful, and the music is chirpy and has that trademark jazzy vibe that most Hudson games had. The music and graphics aren’t annoying, but they won’t impress you either. Many of the bosses are Disney staples like Pete and Maleficent, whereas some of the minor enemies have been taken from The Jungle Book. It’s a nice touch if you’re a Disney aficionado.
The game is extremely short, with only five levels. Most of the levels aren’t difficult, barring the annoyances Minnie causes. Levels three and four, a forest maze and a pirate ship respectively, are a pain however. The forest maze is full of doors that Mickey and Minnie have to pass through to reach the end of the stage. Entering correct door changes the season of the stage, giving you a vague clue that you’re on the right track. If you enter the wrong door at any point, you’re thrown back to the very beginning of the maze. It’s one of the few areas that provide a challenge, but it’s still annoying.
The pirate ship is literally only four screens long, and is by far one of the cheapest stages ever made. Pirates swarm all over the floors and tear Mickey apart with projectiles while smashing into him at every opportunity. They’re also very difficult to kill and avoid, making the situation even worse. The boss of the stage is just as bad, filling the screen with knives that seemingly have no pattern and are nearly impossible to dodge. It’s clear that the developers made the stage so cheap to extend the life of the game.
All in all, Mickey Mousecapade isn’t particularly impressive. It’s a cute game that can easily eat up some spare time, but there’s no reason to go out of your way to play it.
Several changes were made when Mickey Mousecapade reached the States. Many of the enemies were completely changed, though there doesn’t appear to be any good reason for it. The witch boss of the first stage, for example, was clearly the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland in the Japanese version. The only conceivable reason for the change would be to prevent kids from whomping their own cats. The Japanese version also made it clear that Mickey was attempting to save Alice, while the American version made no reference to her until the very end of the game.
The names of most stages were changed when the game went stateside, such as the Little House changing to the Fun House in the American version. Mickey and Minnie fired oversized Mega Man bullets in the Japanese edition, while the American version had them firing stars. Many changes were made to the powerup icons. In the American version, different colored gems and cakes would restore life and destroy all enemies on screen. In the Japanese version, a single colored gem and disembodied Donald Duck head restored health, while the Hudson Bee would kill all enemies on screen. Finally, the life gauge is much shorter in the Japanese version than in the US release.