Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two Review

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Developer(s): Junction Point Studios
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, Wii U, Mac OS X
Review Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: November 18, 2012

November, a time when gamers’ wallets shudder and we’re faced with overwhelming decisions. It’s a time when industry giants pompously gleam on store shelves, racking up billions and trampling the competition. It’s a tough time for lesser known titles and in this case a real tragedy, because Epic Mickey 2 is not only worthy of sharing the throne with recent AAA successes, it deserves special praise for its creativity, charm, and incredibly immersive world. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is the embodiment of everything I love about video games and it pays homage to some of Disney’s greatest moments.
  • Absolutely stunning visuals
  • So much to do, so much to see
  • Challenging, for a kids game
  • An encyclopedia of Disney goodness
  • Couch Co-op
  • Pesky Camera
  • Inconsistent partner AI
  • Gus the Gremlin is annoying and misleading
If you’re like me and didn’t get the opportunity to play the original Epic Mickey on the Wii, the sequel does a fantastic job of introducing its characters and their universe. The game opens with a gorgeous animation and Broadway-style music, which is as charming as anything you’ve come to expect from Disney. The game takes place some time after Mickey defeated Mad Doctor in the predecessor. The Mad Doc returns, even though he supposedly blew up in the original, claiming he’s realized the error of his ways as he recruits residents of Wasteland to help him repair the damage caused by recent earthquakes. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit becomes suspicious of the Doc’s intentions and decides to contact Mickey, who saved the Wasteland in the original title, to seek his help. Armed with only a paintbrush and a remote control, the duo sets out to restore the towns affected by the quake and delve deeper into their cause.


Epic Mickey 2 is a traditional platformer at heart and it carries the kind of nostalgic charm that we don’t see in the genre anymore. It doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table, but the old school platforming formula shines when combined with the breathtaking environments and fun level designs. Mickey’s brush has the ability to repaint surfaces or destroy them with paint thinner. There’s a bit of a morality system interwoven that’s dictated by how much you fix or demolish. It doesn’t alter the way the game plays out by much, but it’s a nice little touch since characters will respond differently based on your actions. As you explore each area, you’re faced with various puzzles which require both Mickey’s and Oswald’s unique abilities. Oswald, who’s always by your side, has a remote that can trigger certain devices and even electrocute enemies. The game is clearly geared toward co-op play, especially considering Oswald’s poor AI behavior when playing single-player. He’ll oftentimes take too long before reacting to your button presses and this becomes quite problematic during platforming segments.

Puzzles range from being very straightforward to head-scratchingly aggravating. Mickey and Oswald’s friend Gus the Gremlin will occasionally pop up to give you clues, but his directions can be completely misleading. I was stuck in a level for an hour and a half…an hour and a half...because Gus was telling me to do the wrong thing and the answer to the puzzle was anything but logical. Luckily, this happens rarely and the rest of the world is a joy to venture through.


Battling enemies goes beyond the rudimentary button mashing. You can befriend opponents by spraying them with paint and they’ll help you attack any remaining foes. Certain baddies wear robotic suits so you need to dissolve the metal with paint thinner before counter attacking. It’s really fun to mix and match offensive maneuvers when various enemy types surround you. Oswald, on the other hand, only helps out when he feels like it. He can stun enemies by shocking them, which is actually very helpful, but he rarely lends a helping hand. He mostly hops around the environment and will even occasionally get in your way. This can be remedied by letting a buddy join the action, but the current AI state is inexcusable.

But despite the inconsistent partner AI, I was completely immersed in Mickey’s world. Every town is filled with new quests and collectibles and you might spend more time exploring the world than following the main story path. Several side quests ask you to photograph hidden landmarks or silhouettes of Mickey and Oswald and it’s a blast seeking them out. (Yes, Mickey is also equipped with a camera.) Certain collectibles are extremely well hidden and reaching them requires more than simple platform hopping. Each town has its unique stores and you can purchase new outfits as well as special moves. These special moves come in the form of sketches and will give you powers like slowing down time, levitating enemies, or distracting them by dropping a television on the ground. While they seem gimmicky at first, you’ll treasure them in some of the later, more challenging levels.


Visually, Epic Mickey 2 is absolutely stunning. Each area is meticulously designed and the entire world radiates with personality. The beautifully painted textures make the game feel like a Disney cartoon and the blend of 2-d and 3-d imagery is flawless. Shops and certain interiors, for instance, are hand painted, two-dimensional backdrops and they combine beautifully with the rest of the three-dimensional world. The lighting is outstanding and there’s tremendous visual diversity in each level, so there’s always a great sense of discovery. You traverse levels by jumping though movie screens where you play through short side-scrolling segments that pay homage to popular Disney time periods. These are fun little distractions, although I wish they were more fleshed out and challenging.


The game runs smoothly, with very minor frame rate dips, but it’s the camera that disrupts the smoothness of the action. You’ll find yourself plunging to death because of swaying camera movements and an occasionally false sense of depth perception. But to be frank, these issues are no more distracting than anything we’ve already come to expect from 3-d platformers. Sure, minor tweaking is clearly necessary, but it doesn’t take away from the overall experience.

While Epic Mickey 2 could use a few more weeks of polish to patch up some of the inconsistencies, I absolutely adored every minute with the game. It’s an absolutely gigantic world filled with tons of side quests, collectibles, and your beloved Disney characters, and considering that there are fewer choices in the genre each year, Epic Mickey 2 is an unquestionable must buy. 

Editor’s Note: Disney Interactive Studios has provided us with a copy of the game for review.          
             
Final Score “A Disney Classic” 8.0
Graphics
Stunning, absolutely breathtaking art design. The world of Disney has never looked better. Every area is crammed with meticulous detail and visual diversity, providing a great sense of discovery. It's as beautiful as most Disney animations.
9.0
Gameplay
There's a very solid platformer here, but frustrating AI behavior and wonky camera is undeniably annoying. But despite the bugs, I loved every minute of this game and there's a great sense of nostalgic charm that stays with you once the game is over.
7.0
Value
Epic Mickey 2 is huge. A gargantuan single player mode that puts recent 4-6 hour campaign titles to shame. There is an incredible amount of collectibles and secrets. The game will keep you busy for a very, very long time.
9.0
Sound
Catchy tunes create the perfect atmosphere for Epic Mickey 2. Some of the voice acting is a bit off, but when you hear Mad Doc rocking out Broadway-style, you'll remember why you feel in love with the Disney universe in the first place.
8.5

Review by Tin Salamunic
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Tin Salamunic is the founder of The Game Scouts. He is a Video Game Journalist during the day and illustrator by night. He's been obsessed with video games since the early NES days, collecting every major system and game on the market. Video games are the reason he pursued the illustration career and he hopes to be creative director for a video game company one day. All Artciles by Tin. 

3 comments:

  1. Loved the demo...glad to hear it's solid.

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  2. The camera isn't atrocious incase anyone's worried about that. The only real problems are Oswald's finicky (but not broken) AI, and the boss battles can be more of a chore than fun. But the game does so many things RIGHT: the original, varied worlds; great voice-acting and music; lots of quests, secrets, and content; and a delicious attention to detail and artistry.

    Does it have faults? Yes. Is it a unique, wonderful experience? Very much so.

    ReplyDelete