There have been some great gaming duos in the past, including the likes of Sonic & Tails, Mario & Luigi and, more recently, Ratchet & Clanks. Now it’s the time for two more memorable characters to come together, as Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit team up in a sequel to the 2010 Wii title Epic Mickey. With a brush and an electric remote in hand, does having two characters in the game make it a better experience, or does this latest Disney adventure simply brush up a storm? Read on to find out
Game: Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
Developer: Junction Point
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
The game follows on from the first Epic Mickey, shortly after the heroic antics of Mickey Mouse saved the Wasteland and all the toons from the Mad Doctor. This time, however, Wasteland has suffered from mysterious earthquakes, causing the whole toon world to be thrown into complete chaos. Whilst you might think the Mad Doctor is behind all this mayhem, he comes along and completely suggests (or sings rather) that he has turned his life around and here to help Wasteland recover. With all not what it seems, Mickey Mouse is again brought in to help Oswald discover the truth behind the chaos in Wasteland and discover if the Mad Doctor has really turned a corner.
You’ll visit many of Disney’s iconic characters in a story that will more than likely please the younger audience, and bring back childhood memories for any mature gamers visiting Wasteland. Sadly though, the story is extremely predictable and not that engrossing at all. That might sound a tad harsh, but you’d expect something with a bit more substance and creativity from Mickey Mouse and Disney.
After not expecting much in terms of the visuals, I was pleasantly surprised with what was on offer in Epic Mickey 2. The Disney characters ranging from Gus, Oswald and Mickey to the other characters you meet along your journey are all suitably detailed. As you progress through different parts of the game, each area features a distinct and unique, colorful look that you’d expect from a Disney movie or cartoon.
The 2D sections are also quite vibrant, with the odd retro black and white look thrown in to keeps things balanced. I found myself eagerly painting through the town so I could get to see more of the visuals in each city that I stepped into. The bosses you face also each have a unique look to them, complimenting the overall look and feel of the game quite well. On the whole, the graphics will certainly please the younger audience, and with the game reaching out for that section of the market, Junction Point has certainly done a decent job with the visuals.
After a promising start, I have to say, the sound in Epic Mickey 2 is somewhat disappointing. The tones of the Mad Doctor at the beginning suggested a musical masterpiece was about to follow, but how wrong I was. Throughout the game, the only songs you hear are from the Mad Doctor himself, and he doesn’t have the greatest singing voice. That said, there is some decent voice acting from the likes of Mickey, Oswald and Gus, but even then it’s nothing special. With no real outstanding audio moments, you can’t help but feel that Disney and Junction Point missed a massive trick when it comes to the sound in Epic Mickey 2.
In the original game players only took control of Mickey Mouse himself, but in Epic Mickey 2 Oswald drops in to join Mickey on his adventure. This means drop in-drop out cooperative play, which is incidentally the best way to play the game. Get a friend or family member to join you and it will probably be the most fun you’ll have with the game from start to finish. If you play the game by yourself then you’ll still be accompanied by Oswald, but his AI is hit and miss at best. There will be points in the game where you will need Oswald to help you complete a puzzle or open a door, which is sounds simple enough but is anything but. There are many times in the game where Oswald leaves you screaming at your television, asking for him to help you. Whilst for the most part he does, there are times where you will move the camera just to find him stupidly running on the spot or going to deal with a enemy that he doesn’t need to. At times like this, you are screaming for another person to come in and take control of Oswald.
The combat on offer in Epic Mickey 2 is too weak, dampening the enjoyment of the battles that regularly occur in the game. Your main tool is a paintbrush which, for the most part, is used to defeat the enemies. In addition to that, you also have Oswald’s electricity attack at your disposal. Whilst these attacks are enough to beat the enemies and bosses that come to stop you complete your objectives, it took far too long to defeat the enemies (especially the basic ones), resulting in a bout of tediousness and boredom. You can switch between characters to defeat the enemies that faster, but that’s only true if you’re playing with another human. If you’re on your own, the sad news is that you cannot switch between Oswald and Mickey at any time in the game. This coupled with the sub-par AI seriously dampened my enjoyment of the game and also made it a lot harder to progress than it should have been.
To keep the gameplay somewhat fresh, Epic Mickey 2 features a few classic 2D platforming sections. Here, the game changes to a Rayman or classic Mario style view, giving you the task of guiding Mickey through a variety of short platforming levels so he can get through to the projector at the end. Whilst some platforming sections offer a decent challenge or two, there is not enough content on offer to keep you fully entertained. For the most part, I found myself speeding through the platforming sequences just because there wasn’t enough to interest me. There are items to collect that help you on your journey, but not even these could keep me in interested in the platform sections for too long.
A new feature in Epic Mickey 2 is the Inkwells that are on offer. There are two different types of Inkwells, Invisible and Indelible. Invisible ink lets Mickey and Oswald become invisible for a short time, letting you get past certain areas undetected. Indelible ink turns Mickey gold for a short while, making him invulnerable to attacks from enemies. Both Inkwells are good additions to the game, but don’t appear often enough, and whilst they claim to offer a “whole new gameplay experience”, they simply only offer a short spell of power.
If played on your own, the story mode in Epic Mickey 2 should take you around 8 to 10 hours to complete. It’s obvious that the game is a much better experience when played with another human, but would it would also take much less time to complete. There are extra quests and challenges present in the game, adding an hour or two its lifespan, but there’s just not enough engaging content on offer to call it a complete package. I would have liked to see some kind of multiplayer mode on offer and if Epic Mickey 3 is ever released, it will be interesting to see what Disney can come up with.
Epic Mickey 2 simply failed to live up to the potential and hype that surrounded it. The colorful visuals and iconic characters are all present, so in that respects Junction Point and Disney have done a good job in appealing to their key audience. However, for everybody else, the game simply feels like a chore to go through. Sadly, Epic Mickey 2 fails to live up to the name, just like original.