Developer: Blitz Games Studios
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Release Date: November 18, 2012 (NA), November 23, 2012 (EU)
Platforms: PS3, X360, PC, Wii, Wii U
Genre: Action Adventure
Disney didn’t quite bank on nostalgia with Epic Mickey like they intended to. A series of issues couldn’t let the game get past a certain threshold, not even with Deus Ex creator Warren Spector at the helm. Still, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two seeks to conquer this adversity. So far, it doesn’t look like it’s doing anything different, rather than just have more of it. The title suggests cooperative work, which is true, but to what extent it’s adding to value, leaves to be debated. Luckily, it still has enough nostalgic charm to make for a decent platform title.
The story tells Mickey that something is amiss and he must use the power of a magical brush to restore order in wonderland. Don’t mind the plot that will lead up to a magical adventure throughout the studio’s forte of animated lands. The universe does have a distinct cartoonish charm. Rounded structures and bright contrasts get an additional dimension with some softer lighting touches. The characters also react in the same whimsical manner with exaggerated motions splashed with stars and shiny flurries. It’s a colorful cartoon, like you’d come to expect from this game. It definitely captures the right atmosphere. Anything less would be a shame.
Keeping this charm alive however; that’s an entirely different issue. Primarily due to poor camera controls, which require slow pushes to sway to other perspectives, a lot of magic is lost on pursuing the game’s limits. More so, this camera will make gameplay harder than it needs to be by badly maneuvering through platforms, hiding sections and so on. The camera is a right mess, which in turn ruins the rest of the game to some extent, but let’s carry on as if it didn’t. Mickey comes equipped with a certain amount of magic paint and thinner to color lifeless structures and to remove bad color from walls and obstructed pieces. By aiming at objects, splashes of color fly around like a gooey extension of the hand. Now Epic Mickey needs to implement this drawing game with some platform elements.
The world scatters objects affected by paint in different ways. For instance, it may be required to shoot a series of objects that rearrange themselves as a growing path onwards. Other objects may require thinning out obstructions, to be able to access platforms or move to other sections. Even different sections may require copious amounts of paint to fill, before it’s possible to advance or unlock the next scene. There is definitely enough variety to keep things going and there’s thought behind the painted puzzles and platform elements that merge together as one. Mickey will need a different set of skills to overcome a series of platform challenges that whisk him through one magical panel to the next. In theory, it would have the making of a lighthearted, entertaining adventure, were it not for the sluggish and irksome camera.
There are also a series of bad guys to fight in the game. An evil arises and needs to be pummeled. This can be done with a simple attack prompt. It’s certainly nothing out of the ordinary and it seems like more could’ve been done with the paint aspect, instead of awkwardly flopping peons to oblivion. However, boss fights will require more ingenuity, even if it’s sometimes not entirely clear how.
Naturally, there’s also a cooperative element. A second character, namely Oswald, can appear and aid Mickey against hordes or assist in platform puzzles and so on. The intelligence isn’t high grade, but it does the job. A strange death element is also present where the two can melt into some weird putty before resurrecting, though it wasn’t clear how that affected gameplay. Moments later, the characters are reassembled and continue as they were. Does the cooperative element add anything? Well, in the sections that force this system, it does by default, but it didn’t feel like a substantial need at this point. Some of Mickey’s ideas got stuck in the past and now these tropes are more padding than good design choices.
Hopefully, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two will work on its camera controls and beef up combat and its cooperative gimmick. It could make the whole difference between an adventure in a captivating dream world and just a series of tasks and events chained together by some good ideas and pretty colors.