For many years now, certain circles of gamers have been lamenting the pending death of the classic adventure game--titles like LucasArts' Monkey Island series, where the game is built around intricate puzzles and a good story rather than level-building or twitch gameplay. Grim Fandango, Myst, Alone in the Dark--these are all oft-cited examples of what makes a great adventure game. However, Disney's Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse for the GameCube serves as a bullet-point list of reasons why adventure games are being ignored by the general public.
The game starts off with a real-time cinematic of Mickey's dream-self being lured into his bedroom mirror by what is supposed to be a ghost, but what more closely resembles the bill from School House Rock. Once passing through the mirror, Mickey finds himself in a large mansion where the usual rules of physics and logic don't necessarily always apply. Mickey's attempt to pass back through the mirror leaves it shattered into a dozen or so pieces, which are promptly scattered throughout the mansion by that malevolent spirit. And so begins Mickey's journey to collect all of the mirror shards in hopes of getting out of this bizarre mansion. Once your objectives have been clearly defined, the story basically goes on autopilot and isn't really expanded upon beyond the basic premise.
For the most part, Magical Mirror is a very simple, straightforward point-and-click adventure game. Using the directional stick, you'll guide a cursor around your environment and click on items to examine them and, if possible, make use of them. Anyone who's played an adventure game will be instantly familiar with the puzzle types presented here, which are usually based on combining items and then interacting with them. Magical Mirror does tweak the adventure game formula slightly by introducing the trick system, which will require you to trigger certain events in order to progress through certain puzzles. But before you can trigger the event, you'll need to get the required number of stars, which have thankfully been generously distributed all over the mansion. Some tricks require multiple stars, and since your star meter starts out with only a single star, you'll need to find the necessary number of star containers first. You'll also be treated to the occasional action interlude, where you'll pilot a toy airplane or attempt to outrun a possessed sword. Without any other characters in the mansion aside from Mickey and the paper ghost, your objective of collecting keys, stars, and mirror shards remains the sole focus through the entire game, and though the occasional action-based minigame provides some much-needed variety, it's simply not enough.
The game's repetitive nature extends to its graphical and aural presentation as well. Virtually every room in the mansion has the same look, with lots of rounded corners, Disney cartoon-proportioned appliances and furniture, and plenty of light wood-grain surfaces. The environmental textures are pretty decent, though there is usually at least one blurry, low-resolution texture to be found in any given room. Mickey's character model isn't especially detailed, the animation is rather shoddy, and there are some weird reflective qualities to him, but even still, it does a passable job of representing Disney's most recognizable icon. Though it'll change to something frantic or spooky when the occasion calls for it, the music in Magical Mirror otherwise does not stray from the same high-spirited cartoon music, repeated over and over again. Thankfully the puzzles don't really rely on sound cues, and the only thing you'll miss by hitting the mute button is the occasional "golly!" from Mickey.
Considering the subject matter, general level of difficulty, and the explicitly labeled kids mode found on the main menu, there's no question that Disney's Magical Mirror was designed expressly for a younger audience. But while the game's simplistic puzzles will keep more mature gamers from enjoying it, the incredibly slow pacing and monotonous puzzles will override the Disney entertainment factor for the young as well.