E3 2012: Epic Mickey 2 – The Power of Two
Mickey and Oswald are back in the newest edition of Epic Mickey. I got a chance to play this at E3 and found it to be as similarly charming as the first of the series. The game will be released this time though not as a Wii exclusive, but as a cross platform title on the PS3, and Xbox 360 as well. While the Wii is the lead console the game is being developed for, it seems that if given the choice the PS3 combined with the Move might be the best route to go to get smooth brush controls combined with HD graphics.
In Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, Mickey has been called back to the Wasteland to help stop a calamity in progress. It’s unclear what the main threat of the game is, but the existence of the Wasteland itself is at stake. Oswald is teaming up with Mickey this time around allowing for simultaneous two player gaming. One thing that is particularly nice about the coop experience in this game is that the second player can freely jump in and out of the game as they wish. When they activate the second controller, the game goes into split screen and immediately gives control of Oswald to the player. It’s a little disorienting for the first player if they aren’t expecting it, but it will definitely be great anytime someone wants to sit down and join the game. Together the players can perform moves that Mickey cannot perform on his own, like having Oswald spin his ears like a helicopter so he can glide to new areas with Mickey hanging from his legs.
As in the previous game, Mickey has the ability to use paint and thinner individually to remove and draw in paths, walls and items. When I played I was using the regular PS3 controller and found that using the brush took a bit of getting used to. I played through the original Epic Mickey before and found that the motion controls do make the game easier to play. I’m used to the right stick being dedicated to camera controls in modern games, but in Epic Mickey 2 the right stick is dedicated to controlling the brush crosshair. I found that I would lose track of the crosshair in the background occasionally trying to assess where the paint was being thrown in the 3D environment. I’m certain I could get used to this, but motion control really did help me keep track of how I was using the brush and made the game feel smoother.
A major complaint of the original game was that the camera was difficult to manage. This has definitely been fixed in the latest edition. The camera has a more automated feel to it and does a good job of keeping the view where the player would like it to be. The player can still rotate the camera freely with the D-pad but I found I never really needed to, save for just gazing around the environment.
I’ve said this before about Epic Mickey: I don’t believe it demos well at conventions. There is so much attention to small detail that cannot be appreciated in a small demo sequence. The demo featured Mickey’s return to the wasteland, a journey to reclaim his brush, a side scrolling sequence, and a battle with one of the Mad Doctor’s old monsters. There are fun little details in each of these levels that are meant to be discovered and recognized from Disney classics. The journey to collect the brush is reminiscent of Fantasia. As Mickey paints the path in the cosmic backdrop the floating stones collect beneath his feet, and if the player paints in all the comets a Mickey constellation appears. The beast in the Mad Doctor’s lair is a dragon that is influenced by a parade float from the Disney Electrical Parade, similar to Pete’s Dragon. These elements are charming little reminders of the Disney themes and history, and they lose a bit of their impact in a convention space like E3.
The game felt very similar to my experience with the original Epic Mickey and I’m interested to give it a try when it comes out. The controls were solid, the addition of Oswald if fun, there are little details within each level to look at and explore, and it has made both visual and gameplay improvements from the original. If you found yourself interested in the original or are a fan of Disney’s history, this could be a fun title to check out.