The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Epic Mickey is Junction Point’s thank you letter to Walt Disney. The
life’s work of this legendary creator is on display throughout the
game’s museum-like worlds. As Mickey’s adventure unfolds, he bounds
through the black and white cartoons that put both him and Walt on the
map, explores Disneyland’s most recognizable landmarks, and even takes a
second to gaze wide-eyed at a bronze statue of Walt.
tribute, Epic Mickey hits most of the right notes. After soaking up the
nostalgic sights and sounds, I tracked down and watched old Mickey
cartoons. Thanks to this game, I’ve developed an appreciation for
Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit. For those of you not up to speed on Disney
trivia, Oswald is the first character created by Walt. Due to copyright
issues, he was shelved and forgotten until his revival in Epic Mickey.
Mickey and Oswald interact is one of the game’s most surprising
allures. Mickey is mischievous, yet ultimately innocent. Oswald is the
exact opposite. He’s bullheaded, and most of his dialogue expresses a
harsh cynicism. Though they only share the screen mostly toward the end
of the adventure, it’s worth the journey for Disney devotees.
game begins with Mickey sneaking into a wizard’s workshop and
accidentally spilling paint thinner on a miniature world. As the thinner
spreads, Mickey is pulled into this peculiar land. He sees that it has
been turned into a wasteland, sapped of its life and color. After
spending a few minutes here, Mickey realizes that he’s standing in a
twisted version of Walt’s greatest creation, the Magic Kingdom. The
residents of Main Street are miserable, the rides in Tomorrowland are
malfunctioning, and Mickey’s accident is to blame. He has to clean up
the mess, and the task won’t be easy. The thinner has taken on physical
form, and continues to corrupt the land.
Epic Mickey clings
tightly to one cool gameplay gimmick – Mickey’s ability to apply paint
and thinner to the environment. Channeling a little magic like he did in
Fantasia, Mickey wields a magic brush that can spray mighty streams of
both paint and thinner. Paint revitalizes objects. Thinner removes them
from the world. With one flick of his wrist, Mickey can transform a
dilapidated house on the verge of collapse into a pristine work of art
that shines with life. He will also be forced to temporarily remove
objects from the world to gain access to areas that will help with the
repair. For instance, spraying thinner on a rooftop will give him access
the interior of the building. When his task is completed, he can
restore the building with a blast of paint.
Junction Point uses
this paint and thinner mechanic to create a variety of clever puzzles
and combat scenarios. Objectives are rarely clearly telegraphed, which
leads to paint and thinner being tossed around liberally. The hunt for
solutions is the heart of Epic Mickey’s gameplay. One spray of thinner
could reveal a secret area, and a blast of paint could reanimate a
machine that changes the complexity of the entire level.
combat encounters are few in number, most of the foes Mickey squares off
against demand different attack strategies. Blotlings, creatures
infected and/or created by Mickey’s thinner disaster, melt into a puddle
if you pour thinner on them or become docile if you splatter them with
excessive amounts of paint. Beetleworx enemies require thinner to expose
their weakness, but can only be finished off with a spin attack by
Mickey. Some enemies roll at you, forcing Mickey to leap into the air,
and quickly spin around to establish another steady stream of thinner.
No matter what creature I was squaring off against, the battles proved
to be exciting tests of skill and precision.
All of this spray
functionality is handled beautifully on the Wii remote – just aim and
shoot. Fans of Super Mario Sunshine should feel right at home.
offering exciting propositions for both combat and exploration, the
entire experience is plagued by an uncooperative camera. As Mickey
strafes around an enemy, the camera could catch on a wall, causing it to
lose frame of the action, or freak out to the point that it’s
impossible to gauge what is going on. The platforming segments, which
send Mickey up perilous towers and across moving contraptions, are
marred by the camera tracking, sometimes locking in a position that
blinds you for the next jump. The camera can be realigned and the player
can also zoom into first person, but sometimes the game just won’t let
you alter the angle. Frustration abounds in almost every world. This is a
shame, as the worlds are teeming with well-hidden secrets, such as body
parts to construct bizarro versions of Donald, Goofy, and Daisy. With
the camera working against me, I often felt the secret wasn’t worth the
effort. Death often means you have to start an entire level over again.
much as I loved the artistry in the worlds and the general vibe of the
game, many of the missions Mickey is sent on are the very definition of
mundane. Miserable talk-intensive fetch quests periodically rear their
ugly heads, and challenges like “shoot the glowy bits on seven passive
thinner tentacles” do little to get the blood pumping. As imaginative as
the worlds are, the quests feel tacked on, and sometimes come across as
time sinks to extend the length of the adventure. The end result is a
game that offers fun gameplay mechanics that are sapped of life due to
the mind-numbingly boring nature of the quests.
The power to restore or destroy directly affects the land and slivers of the story. Within almost every mission, Mickey's actions can have a positive or negative effect on the kingdom. Both choices bring different results, much in the same vein as the Fable series. If Mickey is heroic in his crusade, his physical appearance becomes that of a stalwart knight. If he does everything he can to darken the world, the thinner corrupts his body to the point that the color from his skin drips off of him like a leaky faucet.
Unfortunately, most of the choices don’t hold much emotional resonance. This is largely due to the limited amount of time given to the characters and world. Sorry, cow lady, I know I ruined your garden, but you look just like everyone else in this world, and your five word plea wasn’t enough to convince me otherwise.
I got a kick
out of the side-scrolling levels, which turn Mickey’s oldest and most
memorable cartoons into fun (albeit challenge-free) platforming
sequences, but getting to them meant slogging through the larger worlds.
Epic Mickey goes out of its way to show gamers Walt Disney’s body of
work, but rarely fires on a level that turns this beloved content into
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
The return of Mickey Mouse to video games leaves me torn between two
extremes. I’m overjoyed to see such an imaginative and exciting take on
the worlds of Disney. As a land of forgotten Disney characters, The
Wasteland is a fantastic setting and a breath of fresh air for the long
stagnant fiction. Vibrant environments are filled with secrets and
surprises, many of which include nods to Disney history. A pitch-perfect
musical score sets the right tone between playful and frightening,
accentuating the twisted cartoon-gone-wrong landscape. Gameplay values
exploration over anything else, and it offers a genuine sense of
discovery. Even with all this great content, the game struggles in key
areas that threaten to bring down the fun. An uncooperative and finicky
camera is the worst offender, sticking at odd angles that can lead to
disastrous jumps. While the quest structure is open-ended and often has
multiple solutions, many of the actual objectives involve tedious item
collecting and backtracking. At other times, the quests seem
directionless. Furthermore, the innovative paint and thinner concept
makes for some great puzzles, but the mechanic is strained by targeting
problems. Pull it all together, and you’ve got a good game that probably
isn’t the revelation for which many Disneyphiles hoped. But as a first
step to making Mickey Mouse relevant once more, this is a better
direction than the little guy has gone in decades.