The House of Mouse

The House of Mouse
Mickey, Donald, and You

Hilton Collins | 17 May 2011 15:19
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Donald offered shenanigans of a different flavor. In 1991's QuackShot Starring Donald Duck, Donald's the protagonist, of course, but his motivation's not heroic initially. He's not trying to save anyone when you begin; he's hunting for treasure so he can get rich. That's not that pure, wholesome, or Mickey Mouse-like of him, but it's pretty human and relatable. We know what it's like to want fatter wallets, and so did Donald.

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In some ways, QuackShot was more grounded in reality than Castle of Illusion was. The levels all took place in the "real world," or the one Donald lived in within the game universe. His travels included his hometown Duckburg, Mexico, the South Pole, and Egypt, all real locations as far as that game was concerned. The levels in Castle of Illusion? They all took place in a mystic castle with doors that led Mickey to fairytale worlds created by magic. The game's title, Castle of Illusion, said it all; it was ethereal escape.

And sure, QuackShot had ghosts and a vampire in it, but magic and fantasy weren't its point. That game was earthier with more edge. You saw it in the character designs. If you left your controller to go to the bathroom or get some food, Donald got impatient waiting. He frowned and tapped his foot in irritation. You know what Mickey did if you left him alone too long in Castle of Illusion? Nothing. He just stood there smiling, swaying his hips from side to side like he was bobbing to the background music - and would've done it forever. Donald wasn't having that crap, and he gave bad guys hell with the right power-ups. If you collected five red peppers, Donald flew into a homicidal rage, killing everyone in his way. He was so wild you had trouble controlling him. Try getting Mickey to act like that in a Genesis game.

So if Mickey reminded you what it was like to dream as a kid, Donald reminded you what it was like to dream less inhibited. The fantasies may have been awesome, but you didn't have to be. He reminded us what it was like to have that selfish, "mine, mine, mine" streak and to get pissed when we didn't get our way. He had flaws, and so do we, but he got to be a hero in spite of them. We wished we could've done the same.

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