Say what you want about the multi-billion dollar empire, but there’s no denying that since the 1920’s, The Walt Disney Company has built an incredible legacy of cartoons and characters that have been enjoyed by even their harshest critics. In 2010, legendary game designer Warren Spector (Thief, Deus Ex) and his company, Junction Point Studios, took on the challenge of fitting Disney’s vast history of entertainment into one cohesive experience. Epic Mickey definitely earned its title with plentiful quests, an interesting paint mechanic, and an obsessive respect for the source material, but a barrage of devastating camera issues prevented the game from achieving true greatness. Now, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is ready for consumption with a new story, high definition graphics, co-op, and full voice acting (and singing)! This release has the chance to fix the technical issues of the first and hopefully not replace them with something even more detrimental.
Much like the first game, all your time will be spent traversing the alternate reality world of Wasteland (essentially Disneyland turned on its head). Main st. becomes Mean St, Toontown becomes Ostown, etc. The Mad Doctor is back but instead of wreaking havoc on the innocent, lost characters of the theme world, as he’s been known to do, he comes with a message that he has seen the error of his ways and wants to help rebuild the land and save it from the mysterious earthquakes that have been occurring recently. Of course, some of our heroes have trouble believing the sudden change of heart, but still cautiously help investigate the cause of these rumblings with the hope they can prevent anything bad from happening to their world yet again.
On our way to Wasteland.
The story is a logical and entertaining continuation of the previous game and is fully voice acted this time around with a little bit of a musical twist. Some of the songs are catchy and funny but, understandably, don’t touch the quality of the cartoon Disney musicals of the 90’s. The biggest detractor is the fact that only the Mad Doctor sings and it comes off as more of a character quirk rather than an overall theme. It doesn’t hurt the story that much but feels a little tacked on and isn’t anywhere near being the full-fledged musical the developer had promised.
The end of Epic Mickey saw the reconciliation of Mickey and Oswald as brothers after a bit of bad blood and went on to become the most beloved characters in their respective worlds. In EM2, Junction Point aims to take advantage of this relationship by introducing co-op, allowing a friend to hop in as Oswald and help with any problems that may arise on your journey. Everything from fighting enemies, getting across chasms, or flipping simple switches requires teamwork and should instill a dependence on your friend that is in line with the dependence of the two characters in the story.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Most players will be stuck dealing with the A.I. for the entire experience due to the co-op feature only being available in split screen and the fact that Oswald (and his importance) is not removed whether a person is there to control him or not. Trying to play the game alone will have you praying to your TV hoping your digital “friend” does the actions required for you to progress. You’ll waste time dancing in circles and dodging enemy attacks just waiting for your lazy sidekick to do his part since many enemies are impossible to take down without the unique traits of both characters. Giving up half your screen is definitely better than the headaches an A.I. partner will give you, but the lack of online functionality, and a competent companion, is a severe oversight.
Work together!… Hopefully.
EM2 is still technically an adventure game but the short length and lack of interesting side quests might suggest otherwise. The previous installment allowed plenty of wiggle room to complete tasks, and get handsomely rewarded for it, while this most recent release seems to shuffle you along quickly from level to level making the entire experience feel more linear and nearly impossible to explore peripheral tasks. It almost feels like the game doesn’t know if it wants to be a mediocre platformer or a mediocre adventure game and ends up splitting the difference for a less than mediocre mash up.
The camera issues aren’t nearly as big of a problem as they were on your last visit to Wasteland, but they’re still there. Playing with a standard, dual-analog stick controller will give you some control over where to look, but if you try playing with the WiiMote or Playstation Move, you forgo a lot of your camera control and once again fight to see what you want to see. The extra precision the motion controls can offer when moving your paint cursor is nice, but might be worth ditching in favor of avoiding the many “creative” angles the camera chooses on its own.
Overall, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is a disappointment. Most of the wondrous and magical environments of the first game were rehashed for the sequel and in no way evoke that same sense of ownership of your surroundings due to spending very little time in every level. The story is entertaining and the most fanatical Disney lovers will appreciate the novelty of an underused cast of characters, but these redeeming qualities alone don’t make for a very good video game. Considering the potential of its material, Epic Mickey 2 is nothing more than a shame.
Entertaining story | Nostalgic Disney characters and moments
Short length | Frustrating A.I. | Plenty of camera and technical issues
Little David Galanter grew up in Orange County, CA loving videogames and anything else that repelled girls. After getting his Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts, David decided to start contributing his soft silky words to the world via online media. He currently owns a website with a weekly podcast (www.drgman.com) and is a reviewer for Default Prime!
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