Lasting First Impressions of Epic Mickey by Disney Interactive
When Warren Spector, creator of such epic games as Deus Ex, Wing Commander, and System Shock decides that his next project will star Walt Disney’s cornerstone character, Mickey Mouse, people can’t help but to sit up and take notice. Disney’s Epic Mickey tells the story of the “Wasteland”, a world of the forgotten and rejected characters and story ideas from the Disney archives. Starring alongside our beloved Mickey Mouse, is Mickey’s “brother”, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney’s very first cartoon star.
After the initial introduction video, players take on the role of Mickey Mouse armed with only a paintbrush in hand that can both paint and erase objects in the world. Using this tool, players will navigate through different Disney inspired worlds and themes in an attempt to restore the Wasteland to its former glory and defeat the evil paint blot that has destroyed the world.
Epic Mickey is an Action RPG of sorts in that you are given “missions” to complete, not all of them required to continue the story. There are also elements in the game that allow the player to make choices, good or bad. For example, early in the game, you are given the choice to either save a Gremlin (characters that may later on help you) or to take the treasure chest full of tickets (the games monetary object). I decided to play it nice and release the gremlin, but I’ll be interested in playing through the game again and playing a bad Mickey.
Mickey is armed only with a magical paint brush that can either paint missing objects into existence or erase objects from existence. This is employed in the puzzle elements of the game in ways such as erasing the floor of a balcony in order to drop the rocks that are blocking your path. Once the rocks are gone, paint the floor back in so you can pass. The magical paint and thinner are also used to either befriend an enemy so it fights for you or to thin the enemy so it is erased and gone. Befriending enemies and using the paint more often than the thinner will eventually bring along the Blue Guardians that will assist you in befriending enemies, while using the thinner more often will bring along the Green Guardians which will help you erase the enemies.
Visually the game is quite stunning for a Wii title. The “Wasteland” looks like a dark and twisted version of Disney World while still employing the colours and vibrant personality of typical Disney faire. The developers have really pushed the envelope in this Wii title, successfully designing a game that you’d forget was not running on an HD console like XBOX360 or PS3.
Epic Mickey plays very much like the Super Mario Galaxy games so learning to move around the world should be second nature to most gamers. Camera controls, however, just don’t seem responsive enough; moving the camera around with the directional pad is very slow and if you need to get some distance from an enemy, it takes too long to spin the camera round in order to take aim with the Wii remote. While pressing the C button us supposed to center the camera behind Mickey, it doesn’t always move to where you want it. This is a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, but can sometimes hinder the enjoyment of a specific situation.
I was excited to finally get a chance to play Epic Mickey and the hour that I have spend with it was fun but sometimes felt like it was holding my hand a little too much. Many times the same instructions would appear telling me how to do something. This constant handholding simply slows down the progression and really takes me out of the experience.
Although the game is rated E for Everyone, I wouldn’t recommend this game to the younger crowd only due to the complexity of some of the puzzle elements of the game. My 10 year old daughter, who is an avid gamer, was having trouble grasping some of the concepts until I explained to her what she needed to do. There are no difficulty levels in Epic Mickey but I could see the younger audience becoming frustrated with the game quickly and simply giving up on it. The more seasoned gamers, however, won’t have any trouble navigating the puzzles and will find that Epic Mickey is definitely a fun ride and well worth a play through or two. I’m looking forward to seeing the consequences of playing as a not-so-nice Mickey.
Disney Interactive, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.