The lights are on
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.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.
Matt, seriously get some sleep. Its one in the morning
Hm, GI still hasn't done any news about the Unreal Engine 4 trailer... me thinks maybe they have exclusive story?
like that this doesnt feel tacked on as with some of the other new coop gamesI
Hopefully it's as great as the first one
I've been very impressed with Warren Spector's admittance of the mistakes he made with the first game. This sequel has the potential to be even better than its predecessor, which was a great but somewhat flawed game.
Good to hear that the game is being properly refined, and the co-op is expanding the experience. I LOVE Epic Mickey; I thought the game controlled perfectly (like Mario and Sly Cooper, it's just fun to run around and double-jump with Mickey. It feels that good), and the paint/thinner mechanics made for some of the most fun level designs in an 3D Platformer ever. With so many guys - like Mario and Sonic - going back to focused, linear 3D levels in Mario Galaxy and Sonic Generations, it was good to see Mickey's game act as a throwback to the more open, explorable level designs of 3D platformers from the N64 days.
But yeah, I know it had some problems. The camera didn't truly bug me until the end of the game though. Frankly, I feel like if they just gave Mickey a melee move beyond his spin, and a block or dodge, it wouldn't be a problem. But since all you can do is blast paint at enemies, you're constantly backing up, and then getting shoved into corners or falling off platforms. At least they refined the camera, and added voices in - I will never know why they didn't have those before.
Beyond that, everything sounds great! The first game was awesome, so I expect the second to be too. A lot of the changes they're making are stuff that should've been there before - the voices, the better camera, the co-op, the depth in the sidescrolling levels (seriously, they were fun, but short and shallow in the first one. Why were there no enemies? Why did they shut off all your moves except jump?); all these sound like big improvements that will add to the game.
I just wish it looked better. It's still handicapped by the lead, Wii SKU of the game. And like all Wii multiplatform games, the 360 and PS3 versions will just look barely better (and higher res, of course). Why didn't Junction Point receive Wii U dev kits? Nintendo obviously likes them - they published Epic Mickey themselves in Japan! It would've been nice to see a true HD sequel. One that had high geometry characters and assets, advanced lighting, complex shaders, etc. The difference between Ratchet & Clank and Ratchet & Clank Future, is what I'm saying. Not just going from Ratchet & Clank to....Ratchet & Clank HD Collection.
Here's hoping Epic Mickey 3 will be a proper HD game.
The game is sounding good! I look forward to playing this when it releases.
Am I the only one who might get this game based solely on how adorable Mickey looks?