When Epic Mickey was released on the Wii, I cried a little… A game about classic Disney literature, games and movies all tied with a neat little bow, aka beautiful graphics and a timeless appeal of faithful recreations(does that level look like the original NES game?!??) and hidden aspects for those of us that truly love Disney (including hidden Mickeys) and know all the little references that no one else does… but I didn’t own a Wii. I almost went and bought one to try it. I’m a Disney nerd and that looked like heaven to me. But I waited… it wasn’t worth paying that much to try one game.
Now, the sequel is finally released and I was SO excited that I was finally going to get my time with Mickey since it was released on a stronger/better console (sorry Wii fans, just the facts). And for the most part it’s what I wanted, but in other ways I’m sorely disappointed. Let’s separate it into two different categories… what works and what doesn’t.
Here’s why I love parts of it, and why it deserves AT LEAST 3 stars:
1) Disney Nerdvana- There are references to classic materials EVERYWHERE. I own most of the old films (I’m talking the classic shorts, etc) and there are references literally everywhere. Every time I turn a corner I revel in yet another reference that I know few else are seeing the same way. Classic movies, games, stories, materials (including lunchboxes and old school Mickey Mouse Club records on turn tables) pamper the areas with nostalgia. I’m only in my thirties, but I love all of it and I’ve done my research as a Disney nerd… the creators made this with pure love and I’m loving how much attention to detail they put in this thing. Not only that, it looks VERY nice. The worlds are recreations of Disneyland, rides, etc. This thing takes on Disney with a passion and leaves nothing out.
2) Classic costumes and collectibles- Dressing as Steamboat Willie and running around 2D sepia-toned platform levels feels so old school that I love it. Finding pins to trade and collect… let’s see, when am I going back to Disneyland again??
3) Using paint and thinner is a lot of fun and I love watching things change with me painting or thinning them out. It’s almost mesmerizing to watch. Fun effects, though simplistic they may be.
Here’s why I can’t possibly give it MORE THAN 3 stars:
1) Camera controls- there are times I move towards a wall and the camera flips dramatically on me. Suddenly I’m running off a cliff because the camera won’t turn the way I want it to. Very annoying.
2) The Power of Two?- this game was meant to be played with 2 people multiple times… and that’s its downfall. I’m in my thirties and can get around just fine, but my kid can’t. We play games together and she loves that, usually, but this game… she gives up out of frustration. The challenges are often too simple for me to solve, but too complex for my 5 year old and too flawed for her to get the character to the area she wants it to go. So she gave up and won’t play with me anymore. Now I’m playing alone but can’t get everything I want since I can only do this by myself now. Many hidden challenges and puzzles (the whole reason I wanted this game) can only be solved with two actual players. Sure, Oswald can help as an AI, but there is the next issue…
3) Oswald’s A.I. (Annoying Intelligence)- Oswald runs in my way all the time. He jumps on my head, pushes me off cliffs and platforms, knocks puzzles around when I need them in key areas, and never quite does what I need him to do. He is supposed to help, but I find myself often smacking him out of the way to avoid him causing me more issues. And then he yells at me for it. It gets old, fast…
4) Who is this game for anyway??: This is too nicely designed for a child to appreciate to its fullest. They won’t understand the intricate details of the backgrounds and hidden references. They’ll also get frustrated when Mickey can’t jump high enough or Oswald doesn’t do what he is supposed to. However, the developers didn’t take enough time to fine tune it for an experienced gamer either, thereby causing me to get frustrated when I know what I should be doing, but can’t accomplish it without multiple efforts due to bad programming or design… so I’m not sure who their core audience was in this game… kids or adults… In my opinion, it doesn’t meet either of our needs/wants. The fact that playing with two experienced (most likely teenage to adult) gamers needs to happen will be unlikely in a game with this many flaws for as long as needed.
5) The power of consequence- I love games with consequences. I believe that if I make a decision that is bad, that should affect me throughout the game. The developers believe this too, but they didn’t think it out very well. For instance… the second town you go to, you are supposed to find a way to get to the next area. If you really don’t explore a lot, you’ll find the path really easily. BUT, this game is about removing and painting items in to change your surroundings and find clues and secrets… so right at the beginning of the town I find a secret alleyway through a building (SCORE! I love secrets!) so I take the passageway only to find out that this is an alternate way to my next objective… and that’s a BAD thing I guess because by finding the secret pathway, I’ve made the town get hurt by thinning out certain walls. I didn’t know I was doing a negative consequence until it was too late and someone yells at me. Now, hours later I return to the town and they charge me extra for items since I was a jerk before… though an unintentional one. For a game that encourages secrets and exploration, I shouldn’t feel discouraged for finding and taking one. There was little for me to know that I was going to my next objective but in the wrong way… I’ve had several situations like this as well… For instance I wasn’t supposed to hurt monsters in one area, so Oswald took it upon himself to attack them for me, thereby making a character mad at me. This is a major flaw in the game system and one that discourages me the most from continuing onward. I can’t play things out the way I want to and feel scared of finding secrets now. I always try to play through a game the first time as a nice character if given the option… so far, with really trying to be good, I am about 50/50 on doing things the nice way…
6) A sequel- This IS a sequel. They expect you to know that, and I did… but they played it out like I knew ALL the events that occurred in the first game. Dear game developers: Thanks for releasing this on new consoles… perhaps you should have considered that for some of us, this is our first time around with Mickey since the first one was only released on the Wii?? I still feel lost on certain key plot points… It’s not enough to really ruin it for me, but the events of this game rely heavily upon your knowledge of the first game. You don’t have to know it all, but you won’t get as much out of it as you want… like me.
That being said, is it fun? Yes actually, and if you’re a hardcore nerd like myself it may be worth looking into anyway and dealing with the frustrations, but I wouldn’t pay more than minimum price for this game, whatever you consider that price range to be. Just take what I said into consideration… if you can’t get past the annoyances listed above, you should probably stay away from it. If you are okay and still want to give it a try with a little patience… I still gave it 3 stars. That should say something on its own. But next time, if there is one, I hope they put as much attention into the programming as they did with the designs and nostalgia.
So close to greatness… And yet still so far.