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Review: Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

Epic Mickey 2 The Power of Two Disney Junction Point Wii Wii U PS3 Xbox 360 PC Mac

Developer: Junction Point Studios (Wii), Heavy Iron (Wii U),

Blitz Games Studios (PS3, 360, PC, Mac)
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Platform: Wii, Wii U, PlayStation 3,

Xbox 360, PC, MAC
Release Date: November 18, 2012
ESRB: E for Everyone

This review is based on the Wii version of the game. A retail copy was provided by Disney Interactive Studios for review.



Mickey Mouse has been the face of Disney for over 80 years now, appearing in everything from television shows and feature films to comic books, video games, and one of the most famous theme parks in the world. But for the longest time, not many people knew that Mickey was actually the replacement for his older brother Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. This unlucky rabbit had been abandoned years ago and forgotten to most of the world…

That is, until the Wii game Epic Mickey came along in 2010, which breathed new life into Walt Disney’s forgotten hero. And while the original Epic Mickey featured Oswald as simply a deuteragonist, the multi-platform follow-up Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two has given him a new role - sharing the spotlight with Mickey as they both save Wasteland together from a new threat in a very colorful, very musical, and very co-op adventure. But with Oswald onboard, can this game truly follow up the magic of its predecessor, or does it spill paint thinner all over its name? Well…a little of both.

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Epic Mickey 2 takes us right back to the land of rejected and forgotten Disney creations known as Wasteland. After the events of the first game, earthquakes are now blowing Wasteland asunder, acting as a sort of natural thinner as the world begins to break apart like it did back when clumsy ‘ol Mickey Mouse poured paint thinner all over the land in his first epic adventure (probably murdering countless Wastelanders in the process). This time, the antagonistic Mad Doctor has seemingly turned over a new leaf, calling out for someone to help him fix Wasteland as he tries to make up for what he did in the past. Oswald decides to be a hero while his wife and Gremlin Gus, both suspicious of the Mad Doctor’s sudden change of heart, build a magic TV to call Mickey back into action.

The story isn’t quite as deep or “epic” as the first one, but the events that tell the story are still quite a treat. The Power of Two has several things going for it that the original never had, such as full-on voice acting. And by that, I mean that every single character in Wasteland has a voice. Yes, even Male Dog. Unfortunately though, with everyone speaking loud and clear, there are times when it gets a bit annoying, like when Gus repeatedly tells you the same objective over and over and over again until you get the job done. He’ll make you want to paint thinner him, I’ll tell you that right now.

The cutscenes are wonderfully whimsical when the Mad Doctor is involved, as he has taken the liberty of turning this story into a musical of sorts, singing every time he speaks and getting others to do the same on occasion. And these are pretty catchy songs, too, for the most part. There’s also a bit of wit involved in this game, such as when Mickey and Oswald exchange puzzled looks when the Mad Doctor sings. Other than the visual quirks, the dialogue itself can be pretty funny too, both with simple spoken lines and with toe-tapping sung lines. This game takes itself about as seriously as a classic Disney cartoon, which adds plenty of room to be ridiculous and funny.

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It won’t come as much of a shock to veterans of the original, but Epic Mickey 2 has a truly fantastic score behind it. Aside from its delightful musical numbers, this game’s booming orchestral tracks and songs with a hint of familiarity will leave you awestruck and really helps in identifying this game as an epic adventure. And believe it or not, the music also changes depending on your decisions. These audial shifts won’t exactly be glaring you in the face ears, subtle as they are, but they are there, and they do help to make your experience more than meets the eye ear.

On that note, one interesting mechanic strewn about in this game is a decision-making system of rewards and consequences. It’s a unique and promising mechanic that causes different things to happen depending on how you play. It’s just a shame that this mechanic wasn’t used to its fullest potential. Not only are the bad choices not always clear, but your choices don’t even really matter in the end. You may notice characters refusing to help you throughout the game, but the overall outcome is basically the same.

Epic Mickey was known for being highly stylized with cartoony flair and its successor is no different. The 2D cutscenes are very well-made, bringing in a nice artsy, old-fashioned look distinctive from the rest of the game. The 3D cutscenes featuring the very vocal Mad Doctor are also very beautiful, as is the 3D environment of the game itself. Every area of the game feels like a work of art, from the black-and-white side-scrolling segments to the very vivid overworld. And when you throw in Mickey’s paintbrush and its paint/thinner abilities, The Power of Two just looks all-around gorgeous.

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With all the good Epic Mickey 2 has going for it, it’s really disappointing to see so many flaws come to the forefront while actually playing the game. The gameplay can feel a bit sloppy at certain points, which you may notice when you find yourself falling to a precocious death because of something you could have sworn you did right. This could be caused by a manner of things, from slippery surfaces to your character’s sluggish movements. The controls themselves can also become troublesome at times, but with the Wii’s motion controls, there’s a nice balance there that makes it tolerable.

Junction Point has made it a point (pun intended) to fix some of the issues the original Epic Mickey suffered from, such as the poor camera. And while they indeed fixed some of the environmental obstruction problems, the camera still acts a bit wonky sometimes. It’s also disheartening to realize that the newer things thrown into this game weren’t exactly implemented properly. This is especially true about the AI in this game.

As far as enemy AI goes, it feels very unbalanced, which can often make certain normal enemies seem impossible to kill. Not to mention this game, unlike countless others, doesn’t have an invincibility shield to protect you from being bombarded with attacks until you die. Rather than making it fair on you, the cruddy combat pretty much kills you instantly if you’re going up against a boss that won’t stop smacking you around, and Oswald’s AI either can’t or won’t help you.

Speaking of Oswald’s AI, it’s fairly obvious that The Power of Two was made for playing cooperatively with another human player. So if you have someone to play with, it’s actually a lot more fun. When playing single-player, however, you will no doubt have trouble getting Oswald to do what you want, especially considering you can only play as Mickey. It also gets quite annoying when he constantly tells you that “I’ve got this” when he clearly hasn’t.

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If you can stomach the game’s flaws as I have, you may find yourself easily distracted by the game’s many sidequests. And I wouldn’t blame you, because I couldn’t help myself from doing just that. Some quests are more fun than others, and if you feel the need to collect the multiple forms of currency within the game, quests are probably the best opportunity to do so.

At the end of the day, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the wonderful voice acting, fantastic soundtrack, and gorgeous visuals will make the experience as magical as it was meant to be. But on the other hand, sloppy gameplay mechanics, cruddy combat, and often moronic AI tend to get in the way a lot. But if you can tolerate this game’s flaws, it can truly be a fun ride. It’s not as good as its predecessor, but if you enjoyed the original, or you're just a big Disney fan, I suggest giving Epic Mickey 2 a shot.

 

Pros:


+ Voice acting is impressive

+ Fantastic soundtrack

+ Gorgeous visuals

+ 2-player co-op heightens the fun factor


Cons:


- Sloppy gameplay mechanics

- Moronic AI

- Cruddy combat


 

Overall Score: 7 (out of 10)

Good


Mickey's second epic venture into Wasteland is a wonderfully quirky musical chock-full of fantastic aesthetics. Unfortunately, it also has some big flaws that weigh it down enough to turn some people away. It's not for everyone, but it'll delight plenty.




3 Comments

Yeah why is it AI for a second player is usually terrible? Great review man!
Sloppy gameplay mechanics, moronic AI, cruddy combat...that's a lot for ANY game to overcome, even one with topnotch visual presentation and a great license. Unfortunately, everything I've heard about Epic Mickey 2 has me leaning towards skipping this game.

Yeah why is it AI for a second player is usually terrible? Great review man!


Thanks, man! And yeah, it always seems like when a game throws in partner AI in a game meant for having a 2-player experience, the AI is always broken as hell.

Sloppy gameplay mechanics, moronic AI, cruddy combat...that's a lot for ANY game to overcome, even one with topnotch visual presentation and a great license. Unfortunately, everything I've heard about Epic Mickey 2 has me leaning towards skipping this game.


Well, if you check sites like metacritic and gamerankings, you'll notice that the Wii version has been getting higher scores than the others. That might have something to do with the fact that the Wii version is the original made by Junction Point, whereas the others were ports dealt with by other companies. Really, if you liked the first game, or just like Disney in general, I say give it a try if you've got a Wii. If not, you're not missing out on too much.

 

 

 

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