November 28, 2010

Dark Kingdom

Lasting First Impressions of Epic Mickey by Disney Interactive

Epic Mickey Cover

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.

gremlin%20village_01_f2707_jpgVisually 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.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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  1. KowZ

    When I was younger, I liked the more difficult games over the less difficult games because that’s how I learned. If a game was just easy to figure out and beat, then I often wouldn’t beat it and it would sit aside.

    From the Nintendo days, games like Mc Kids and Muppet Adventures were often in my console while games like SMB were often sitting untouched. Mario 3 was my favourite in the SMB series as it really upped the difficulty. As a kid, the franchise-driven games were always rated low, but I really enjoyed them.

    I’m glad to see you were impressed with Epic Mickey, as I’ve seen some other sites pick on it for being “too easy”, and one for being “too hard”. Although I haven’t played through the full game, from what I’m hearing it is perfect for a pre-teen whose motivation is to beat the game, even if it means using a game guide.

  2. Xiantayne

    Epic Mickey’s difficulty is actually quite good. I didn’t find it very easy but it’s also not very difficult (so far). The only thing I found by watching Sydney play (10 yo daughter), is that some of the concepts such as erasing gears so that a platform stops turning just seems to fly over her head until I showed her that she could do it (she was trying to jump on the moving platforms instead of stopping them when they’re flat).

    For the younger crowd, the concept of erasing and painting objects to change the level is along the same lines as some adults trying to grasp the concept of the Portal Gun. It takes some mind-bending thought at first, but eventually you start to understand it and it becomes second nature in the course of the game.

  3. The original concept art that made it’s way around the internet had me super excited for the game. I’m a little disappointed to see that they cut back on the creepy stuff.

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