In one of my recent reviews I used the term “License Abuse” and by this I mean that when an already powerful media company wish to use video games as a medium to generate revenue they take an idea which isn’t particularly well planned, slap some familiar characters on it, spend a lump of money on advertising to make the game appear good and bingo! I was disappointed to say the least with my previous encounter with this practise as I thought we had gotten past this particularly murky era of video games. Presented with Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two however I was resolute – “This will be a good example to balance out my argument, the original Epic Mickey was a resounding success from what I’ve heard” Sadly our animated hero has traded in his paint-based heroism for a slightly questionable makeover, a lacklustre story and an AI partner whose mannerisms resemble those of an over-active puppy whose eaten too much sugar.
Brought to us by two different developers, Blitz Games Studios (for PC, MAC, X360 and PS3) and the original developers – Junction Point (Wii and WiiU version) I can only hope that the Wii and WiiU versions of Epic Mickey 2 play out better than their Blitz counterparts because Epic Mickey 2 (the 360 build I played) is a very poorly built game.
To kick things off, my first issue came with the storyline, I’d been informed by more knowledgeable fans and trusted industry co workers that the first Epic Mickey was a darker twist on Disneys first born – gone are the rainbows and lollipops to make way for an omnipresent dark force bent on corruption and a lone hero ready to stand against it – I was really looking forward to Epic Mickey 2’s story but without playing the first one I feel like I’m missing some important formula to make sense of the second games story. The story is left feeling thin and transparent and where you should feel involved in the world around you, you are left feeling like a tourist in a theme park you have no map for.
The AI’s intelligence is also called into question on several occasions as the AI partner you are lumbered with, Oswald has only a few useful moves in his arsenal when held in comparison to the all-powerful Mickey Mouse and his dual paint brush attack system. I use the term ‘lumbered’ when referring to Oswald because unless you have an actual co-op partner controlling him, Oswald will spend most of his time either getting in your way as you try to progress or trying to stick so close to your side that he ends up knocking you off of ledges or into the sight of enemies. You also don’t get a very satisfying feeling by playing as Oswald either, fundamentally co-op games should make you feel like you are on an equal footing with the other player with only the unique powers that separate you but with Oswald, with his ability to hack terminals and shock enemies with his remote control I have never felt more like a sidekick in a video game (and I played Robin in LEGO Batman) It’s also annoying that friendly fire appeared to be present from the start and considering this is a game that doesn’t exactly help you in terms of controls or gameplay it’s all too easy to accidentally shock/paint you co-op partner.
And speaking of controls, like I said previously I can only hope that the Wii and WiiU versions fair better than their other format counterparts as the controls feel very slow and blocky, aiming at enemies is difficult at the best of times and the general control system such as character movement can fluctuate between syrup-slow and grease-fast instantly which leaves a lot to player interpretation. Don’t get me wrong though, Epic Mickey does feel like a game with that traditional Disney charm running through it but it feels extremely diluted and sometimes hard to locate, some of the characters and encounters are fun and memorable but amongst the rabble you end up meeting more characters who spontaneously burst into song as if to forcibly remind you that this IS a Disney game!
All in all, I think Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is a game built for the wrong audience; the clunky gameplay, shonky control system and frankly clumsy AI make this game far too infuriating to be playable for a younger audience and conversely the whole package feels like it’s been driven at them. I can’t help but feel that new players and also fans of the original game will be bitterly disappointed by Epic Mickey 2.
Disney Interactive supplied Slimgamer.com with a review copy of Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two