As epic as Mickey was always meant to be
There’s trouble brewing in Wasteland. Earthquakes are crumbling the landscape, thinner is threatening to wash over the land, and villains are bursting into song—sure signs that something is rotten in this world of forgotten Disney characters.
When the earthquakes hit, the Mad Doctor—the bad guy from the first Epic Mickey—arrives proclaiming a change of heart. He wants to help Oswald the Lucky Rabbit find the cause of the trouble and make Wasteland safe again.
Fortunately, Oswald’s girlfriend, Ortensia, and Gremlin Gus don’t trust the Mad Doctor, so they ask Mickey Mouse to return to Wasteland and help. So, with magic paintbrush in hand, Mickey and Oswald venture forth to save Wasteland once again.
Has the Mad Doctor really had a change of heart? Who’s behind this new threat? And what are Blotworx? Mysteries abound in Disney Epic Mickey Two: The Power of Two, the sequel to the best-selling Wii exclusive, available this time on all your favorite HD systems.
The first Epic Mickey was a good game with a lot of problems, most notably the wonky camera system and some spotty hit detection that made aiming Mickey’s magic paintbrush hit-or-miss. Fortunately for fans, it sold a whole mess of copies, allowing Warren Spector and the other fine folks at developer Junction Point to make a sequel that is in every way superior.
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is a sprawling 3D platforming adventure featuring the company’s biggest star, Mickey Mouse. With a magical paintbrush, Mickey controls the power of paint and thinner, giving him the ability to create and destroy the animated objects in Wasteland. This time, however, Mickey isn’t alone. Oswald joins the adventure to help Mickey traverse the dangerous, crumbling world.
In addition to wielding a remote that allows Oswald to activate (and sometimes reprogram) machines, the wily bunny can spin his ears like a helicopter to glide over long gaps and use a detached arm as a boomerang—skills that’ll come in handy against the flood of new enemies scattered throughout the land.
Those playing solo will have a good time playing as Mickey, with the AI-controlled Oswald providing companionship—and a helping arm when needed. But it’s in co-op where the game really shines. When a second player takes control of Oswald, new paths open up, and together players can devise strategies to defeat Blotlings, Beetleworx, and Blotworx more efficiently. Exploring the world becomes easier—as do boss battles—and the shared sense of accomplishment when a plan comes together is oh-so satisfying.
Unlike so many co-op games, in Epic Mickey 2, each player has different duties to fulfill. This is especially true during some of boss fights; instead of both characters just shooting away at the enemy, they can divide and conquer.
The game extends designer Spector’s “playstyle matters” philosophy. Certain points are designated as “junction points”—places where the story can turn. Decisions made at the junction points affect the game’s path and conclusion. Use thinner on an object to retrieve an object beneath it, and that object may disappear forever. If someone needs it in the future, it will be gone. Likewise, if you paint in an object—say, to reach a higher platform—and it turns out there’s something beneath or behind that object you want in the future, you might not be able to reach it. There’s no way to 100-percent complete the game in one playthrough, since your choices open and close paths—but half the fun is making those decisions and seeing the consequences.
Wasteland itself feels about the same size as in the first Epic Mickey; you’ll visit some new areas and revisit others, though those have changed. Also returning are the projectors and screens that allow you to travel between levels—this time with different classic cartoons for you to run through. These 2D levels are a favorite for their simplicity and how well they’re crafted, and they present a nice change of pace from the main 3D levels.
The HD graphics are nothing short of gorgeous, with detailed levels and wonderfully animated characters. Seeing these classic cartoon characters come to life will thrill Disney fans, particularly since the whole game’s now fully voiced. While it’s weird hearing Oswald talk (all of Disney’s old Oswald cartoons were from the late 1920s, before cartoons had voice), it also adds depth and emotion to the game. Especially excellent is Cary Elwes as Gremlin Gus, though you do want ol’ Gus to say “As you wish!” at least once.
While the camera’s much improved, it’s still not quite perfect. A few times, I ducked into a small space, only to find myself unable to swing the camera around to give me a good look around. Another problem that persists is the hit detection; spraying paint and thinner just isn’t precise enough. This is particularly annoying when you’re firing in short bursts to conserve your supply. If I put my cursor over a spot, I’d like the paint/thinner to hit that target without having to position myself a few steps to one side or the other.
These are minor annoyances, though, since exploring the world, collecting pins, sketches, and E-tickets, as well as new costumes for Mickey and Oswald to wear (look for Oswald’s Tron costume—it’s outstanding!) is so much fun you’ll happily skip through any sticking points, humming to yourself along the way.
Disney fans, of course, will get the most enjoyment out of this game. The 85 years of history that permeate every fiber of the game is best appreciated by those who are familiar with it, after all—but that shouldn’t discourage those who don’t have that knowledge. Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is accessible yet challenging, providing hours of fun for gamers of all ages.
SUMMARY: Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two features Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in a huge platforming adventure. Traverse Wasteland, where forgotten Disney properties are exiled, and uncover the mystery behind the not-so-natural disasters plaguing its inhabitants. With solid single-player and outstanding co-op play, the game will provide about 25 hours of exploration during the first playthrough. Wield the power of paint and thinner and choose your path. But remember, choices have their consequences.
- THE GOOD: It’s like playing through a classic Disney cartoon with all of your favorite characters.
- THE BAD: Though better than the first game, the camera and hit detection can still use a little work.
- THE UGLY: The deteriorating animatronic characters like Donald and Goofy still creep me out.
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is available on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Wii, PC, and Mac. Version reviewed was on Xbox 360.