Our hands-on time with Epic Mickey 2 reveals the cooperative potential of Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

E3 finally gave us the opportunity to settle in and get some hands-on time Junction Point's sequel to its strong-selling Wii game from 2010. While the game is still headed to Wii, new platform options on 360 and PS3 mean we'll finally get to see Mickey in all his HD glory, and the gorgeous color work and dynamic shadows are a testament to what the additional tech can do.

Epic Mickey 2 picks up some time after the end of the first game. Mickey has returned to his life in the the world of Toons, and Oswald has remained behind in the Wasteland to help fix things up. A series of natural disasters rock Wasteland, and supposedly reformed villain, the Mad Doctor, sweeps in to save the day. Naïve Oswald believes the Doctor has turned over a new leaf, but Oswald's girlfriend Ortensia and Mickey's old buddy Gus aren't so convinced. They manage to contact Mickey and draw him back into their world, and he brings his magic brush along for the ride.

While Epic Mickey 2 can be played solo (with Oswald showing up as an AI controlled partner), the game is being built with co-op in mind. We were disappointed that the game won't support online co-op, but the split screen option works well. Players adopt the role of either Mickey or Oswald. Both characters have their own unique movesets. Mickey has his paint brush, while Oswald has a remote control that allows him to manipulate electricity. Mickey can jump higher, but Oswald can jump further thanks to some helicopter ears. At numerous points during the game, the two characters can come together to complete cooperative actions that neither one of them could do on their own.

Camera was a stubborn problem in the first Epic Mickey, and the team has gone to great lengths to improve that element of the experience. A dynamic camera regularly rotates to the best view of the action, but players also maintain the ability to move the cursor to the edge of the screen and rotate to a more desired view. Also in response to criticism in the previous game, the changes you make to the game world will now remain persistent even after you leave an area. In addition, Epic Mickey 2 is now fully voiced, dramatically expanding the storytelling depth.

Meanwhile, many of the features that were praised in the original game are returning. Most notably, the popular 2D platforming sections return, except they now have increased complexity and rewards for smart cooperative players. We saw a fun level based on the 1937 The Old Mill cartoon in which Oswald could boost Mickey up to a distant golden e-ticket reward. In addition, the ability to befriend enemies has expanded, as Oswald can use his electricity powers to turn the mechanical Beetleworx enemies over to his side of the fight.

Our demo closed with an impressive boss fight against a giant mechanical beast that looked an awful lot like Elliot the Dragon. Even using the 360 controller, fighting the enemy monster worked well, and shooting paint and thinner felt natural. We still have lots of questions about the flexibility and levels that will flesh out the rest of the game, but it seems as if Junction Point is making a lot of smart decisions with this sequel.