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Characters may be forgotten, but don't forget to give this game a fair chance!

  • Jul 8, 2011
Mickey Mouse is who I would call the “King of licensed gaming”.  The past games such as Sega’s Illusion series, Capcom’s Magical Quest and Sony Imagesoft’s Mickey Mania remain among the best platformers at the time and stand as a testament that not all licensed games are bad.  Save for Kingdom Hearts and a few spinoff-style games, there isn’t really an adventure for Mickey till Epic Mickey.  The grim concept art seemed really out there when first announced.  I didn’t know if they were going to bring in the “Darker and Edgier” hook that annoys me.  I began to become interested anyways because of the concept art (you just cannot ignore it) and when Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was confirmed in the cast, this was going to be a special game.

    I didn’t grab the limited edition unfortunately so I cannot talk about the packaging for that.  The standard edition has a nice simple boxart but the manual (while in color) only features 9 pages and doesn’t explain much.  I hate that about publishers.  I like looking at the instructions because back in the day there was some cool illustrations and info about the story but nowadays in-game tutorials and modern presentations do not make the manual as useful.  I won’t hold it against publishers but I do get disappointed very much.
    The visuals and sound are top notch and the graphics especially are a step up from the early screenshots.  The characters look great animated, even the most unimportant of the NPCs too.  The game world has that “Hollywood” look where areas have that “movie prop” feel to it as it makes sense when the world was created that way.  Even so, many of the game’s environments have quite the eye candy intended warts of the “thinner pools” and all.  One might even take a long time staring at Mickeyjunk Mountain’s memorabilia references alone.  Overall a charming look with an appropriate and welcoming OST. 
    The story itself has the deep background of opposite epic Disney series Kingdom Hearts yet never feels too complex for its own good perhaps because there isn’t an ongoing story in sequels yet.  The gist of what you do is Mickey is trapped in the Wasteland and not only does he want to escape but clean up the mess he created when fooling around with Yen Sid’s paintbrush (the tool he used to create the world).  The storytelling has many 2D cartoon cut scenes that are a delight to watch.  There isn’t any voice acting except for grunts and Yen Sid‘s narrative, anyone annoyed by that in games like Legend of Zelda will surely be annoyed here.  I don’t mind it actually, the game thrives on the early days where actions speak louder than words.
    The world is filled with forgotten characters as the promised concept was about.  Most of these characters are focused on Mickey’s side of the universe such as Horace Horsecollar and Clarabell Cow  There are also various versions of characters, as mentioned in one of the cut scenes.  It explains why Pete and Mr. Smee are around.  I guess you can call this a lampshade hanging to the dev team.  Most of the NPCs all look like the same which is a shame when they could of added a few other forgotten characters into the mix (at least for the shopkeepers…).  We did get a few gems into the game such as Oswald and the Gremlins.  I wish the game gave you a reference to various cameos but I haven’t really scratched my head with anyone.

    Epic Mickey reminds me of Mario Sunshine where you have that traditional adventure platformer mold with the ability to spray things.  The whole vibe I gotten was the old N64 days actually.  Take that as a hit and miss for gamers I really grew to enjoy this game style.
    Mickey’s main ability is to use paint or thinner on objects and enemies.  It makes for an interesting way to handle exploration and gameplay elements.  Mickey learns to use some “sketches” which to slow down time, distract enemies or one-hit kill an enemy but limited use as opposed to learning genuine techniques.  Not that it matters because of the forced progression of traveling.  During combat, using paint will allow you to befriend the blot enemies and in return they will fight for you while thinner will defeat them for good.  The mechanical Beetleworx require thinning out then use the spin attack to destroy.  These enemies are a bit of a chore because of how long they take to defeat but the blot enemies are more common and are much easier to handle so the balance is fine.  There aren’t very many types of enemies in the game (like five blot and four Beetleworx) but they have different attacks and some of them has different means of defeating them.  The bosses aren’t simple battles.  Some of them are straight attacks while others are more like platforming/puzzle challenges.  At least depending on how you handle them.  I think it is better than just regular matches but there aren’t very many bosses in the game to begin with.
    The formula is simple.  Mickey travels to worlds with some major objective and some minor quests as you travel in the action levels.  Connecting the worlds are 2D segments modeled after classic cartoons.  Do not get your hopes up.  While the nostalgia is kicking, these levels are brief and work as transitions rather than take full inspiration to a game like Mickey Mania which many of these cartoons also appear.  Throughout the game and recommended for between major worlds you will need to accept quests from villagers which consist of generic fetch quests which span town to town which can be more annoying than a calming breather. There are some variety such as “cleaning” jobs and a NPC will offer riddles.  Those are fun in my opinion.  Some of the quests can be vague in objectives or if you don’t pay attention it can be hard to remember what to do.  There is a quest section of the pause menu, but with only a sentence of info doesn’t help but the map can have some icons for you.
    The star feature of the game is the branching decisions the player can take in completing quests.  It adds much needed value to the otherwise traditional game design.  To make sure the player doesn’t go back on his or her actions, the game auto-saves after important points.  Not a big of a deal itself, but for some reason the development team decided to shut Mickey out of areas.  When the game has quests and collectables, not being able to revisit any places other than the towns can be a huge drag.  If you miss anything you will have to wait for your “new game plus”.  So for those who blast through the story and explore later you don’t get to and searching every inch of an area will slow the pacing of the game to a crawl.  Patient gamers will triumph in this game.

For the most part Epic Mickey is technically sound.  The loading times are fine and I didn’t notice any annoying slowdown.  Mickey is responsive, but minor annoyances like aiming your spray around can lead to not reaching what you wanted or having to waggle to spin attack (like Mario Galaxy).  The biggest flaw would have to be the camera actually.  It feels clunky and you will end up manually moving it more than you wish you did.  It also struggles with tight areas and doesn’t hold up when battling multiple enemies.  Exploration-wise, I doubt you will have too much trouble with it but as a platformer where you have to spray loads and loads of objects it can be a chore.  Did you know there was a lock-on function holding down the C button and you can swing the camera faster by double tapping the D-pad?  I didn’t until experimented because the manual didn’t mention it (and I don’t remember the in-game instructions either).  Not that I didn’t mind, I didn’t have too much trouble aiming but the camera swing helps.  Why did they leave it out is beyond me, it probably would of saved some gamers frustration for sure.

Play Value
The game takes about 20 hours if you are thorough with exploration and quest-taking.  Collecting things add to the replay value. There are concept art,  2 cartoons (one for Mickey and one for Oswald) and pins to collect.  The pins themselves are kind of like achievements for various things you have done in the game.  The branching story also motivates gamers to replay the game, but the strict progression will lead gamers to use the “new game plus” to collect everything anyways.

It lacks polish and some design decisions will not please everybody, but I have no regrets.  I like this game.  Anyone who likes exploration platformers (and Disney in general) should consider giving this a fair chance.  It has clear effort put into it for the complaints I have and I hope to see a sequel or new projects with Oswald for sure.

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July 12, 2011
Great review! Thanks for sharing :)
July 08, 2011
First review here! Getting into the rating scale, +2 is basically a 7 to me considering there's a "-+5" kind of thing...
More Disney Epic Mickey (Wii) reviews
review by . October 30, 2011
Wow just Wow. A very great game.
   Back at E3 2009 Epic Mickey Wowed audiences with its dark and mature portrayal of Disney’s iconic character Mickey Mouse. The game was praised by journalists and gamers alike and was nominated for many awards. Despite the good things I heard about the game I wasn’t really interested in it. I’m not sure why but one day while browsing in EBgames I decided to pick it up (cause I couldn't find anything good)      Disney’s Epic Mickey was developed …
review by . December 27, 2010
   I was given Epic Mickey as a Christmas gift by my son, and have spent several hours playing as of now. The concept of the game is absolutely incredible, and I love the graphics. The story line is also wonderful, and I love how the old cartoons and movies were made such a major part of the game. It's a fun way to spend some time and a great tribute to Disney past.      Having said that - there are certain flaws that are a bit aggravating, though they are not enough …
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About this video game


Epic Mickey
(sometimes marketed as Disney Epic Mickey) is a Mickey Mouse video game designed by Warren Spector, with 2D cinemas by Powerhouse Animation Studios, Inc. and developed by Junction Point Studios for the Wii console, using Emergent Game Technologies' Gamebryo Engine. Epic Mickey is part of an effort by The Walt Disney Company to re-brand the Mickey Mouse character by moving away from his current pleasant, cheerful image and reintroducing the more devious side of his personality. Spector has collaborated with Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios in conjunction with the project. The game was officially announced on October 28, 2009 in London. The game was released on November 25, 2010 in Europe (November 26 in the UK) and on November 30 in North America.

The game focuses on Mickey Mouse damaging a world created by Yen Sid for forgotten characters and concepts, and he is forced to fix the world while combating antagonists with a magic paintbrush. The game features the return of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit as a secondary protagonist. Oswald was one of Walt Disney's first successful cartoon characters before the character was licensed under the ownership of Universal Studios. Oswald was regained by The Walt Disney Company in 2006 under the guidance of Robert Iger.

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Publisher: Disney Interactive
Developer: Junction Point Studios
Console: Wii
Genre: Platformer
Release Date: November 30, 2010 (USA)
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