Genre: Action Developer: Junction Point Publisher: Disney Interactive Games Classification: PG Release Date: 25th Nov 2010 Platforms:
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Disney Epic Mickey is a grown up Mickey - a mature Mickey. Even ignoring the steampunk vibe of the game, this is instantly recognisable in the very core of the story; Mickey actually works to rectify his own mistakes.
Traditionally everybodyís favourite scamp has relied on adults to fix his messes - this is most famously represented in the classic The Sorcererís Apprentice short in Fantasia.
The Mickey of this game bears more than a few similarities with Fantasiaís Mickey as well - once again the squeaky voiced hero is up to mischief, this time messing with Yen Sidís (his master in Fantasia and a well-meaning wizard in Epic) creation and accidentally screwing up the world inhabited by rejected members of the Disney family.
After unleashing an unspeakable evil and destroying an entire world Mickey promptly leaves and forgets all about that time he messed up the world of everyone not as lucky as he. So far, pretty familiar, as Mickey has a bit of a legacy of being a jerk.
Unfortunately this time the unspeakable evil decides to grab Mickey and drag him into the forgotten world; upon arriving Oswald - this worldís Mickey counterpart and a real cast-off in the Disney world - captures Mickey and tries to steal his heart.
And thus Mickeyís adventure begins - he escapes from Oswaldís clutches and uses his magic paintbrush to begin rectifying the world around him.
Its modern day counter part is Super Mario Galaxy, but itís more reminiscent of first generation 3D platformers like Gex, Super Mario 64 or Banjo Kazooie. The camera angle is usually low behind Mickey, and while manipulating it is a bit of a pain to begin with - ok, itís a big pain - eventually you learn the ins and outs and itís worth enduring (except for the occasional camera glitch).
Like SMG Epic uses a Nunchuk/Wiimote combo, except here he paints with the Wiimote, jumps (and double jumps) with A and moving with the Nunchuk. The camera is centred using the C button, which takes getting used to but youíll eventually learn to deal with; not exactly a good thing, but not the end of the world.
Mickey has two primary moves, he can paint or he can thin. Using thinner (pointing the Wii and hitting the Z button) on stuff eliminates it from the world - he can dissolve away paths, delete enemies and reveal hidden objects from walls.
With paint heís more constructive - he paints (this time with the B button) in new paths and befriends enemies instead. This is linked to the binary morality system in the game - there are no shades of grey in Epic Mickey, but this isnít a good or evil situation either.
Mickey is basically either good or... the jerk heís pretty much demonstrated himself to always be. Think about it: he has a long legacy of belittling a cripple (what up, Peg-Leg Pete); to solve his magic mop problem he takes an axe to it; to solve his ĎI created an unspeakable terror and unleashed it upon a world of people already far worse off than myselfí problem he... pretends it never happened.
The morality system goes further than just whether he befriends an enemy or deletes them. He also comes across a number of choices during his time in the world, though these never really deliver on a true morality system, simply because it seems that Epic is destined to always be Ďgoodí - in the sense that good and jerk arenít mutually exclusive characteristics.
The game mixes (simplified) Action RPG action and platforming quite well, making it a perfect fit on the Wii. Itís readily apparent that Epic Mickey could serve as a younger crowdís first taste of whatís to come later on, though the ending is a little confronting (in the same way that Maleficent was considered to be somewhat terrifying in Sleeping Beauty).
When the art style is good, itís fantastic - taking Mickey through levels based on old school animated shorts and around the Wasteland can look downright outstanding at times thanks to liberal use of colour and a well-thought-out design philosophy. When itís bad itís just a bit samey - youíll get the feeling that youíve been somewhere before when you havenít.
The puzzles are challenging at times, though before the end of the game youíll have learned all the tricks theyíre going to throw at you. When I say challenging by the way, I mean challenging compared to most other titles out these days; puzzles use physics elements and combine the concepts of painting in and thinning elements of the game world very well, but anyone with a decent grasp on the gameís mechanics will still be able to get through them.
The story continues to grow from itís rather humble (and stereotypically Disney) beginnings into a great story about friendship, which sounds a lame but itís executed in a manner similar to the recent Pixar greats.
The truly impressive thing is the way they take a character like Oswald - discarded as a character by Disney - and they build him into something greater than even Mickey. Whether this speaks to the strength of Oswald as a character or the burden of being Mickey isnít ever made particularly clear, though Mickeyís immovable morality heavily implicates the first option.
The biggest flaw in Epic Mickey is that itís on the Wii - without having waggle controls and limited camera control forced upon it the game would be nigh on flawless. Itís still great looking in its own right, a testament to the power of the Wii when used correctly - perhaps the addition of the Classic Controller and/or Gamecube controller is all it would have need for universal acclaim.
After you get past the camera issues though the game is definitely heaps of fun - itís longish (took me about 14 hours), has multiple endings and balances platforming and RPG in a hybrid only Warren Spector could deliver. If youíre after a reason to dust off your Wii this Christmas or you have even a basic interest in the Mickey Mouse universe, get Disney Epic Mickey.