Monday, January 31, 2011

Epic Mickey Impression

No Sora or Final Fantasy cameos in this solid adventure starring Mickey Mouse

One of the best games on Wii in 2010 stars a very familiar mouse in a setting last seen in the 16-bit era. Disney’s Epic Mickey is a solid visual adventure that takes the classic 2D gameplay from Mickey’s earlier platforming days and merges it with a bit of Kingdom Hearts 3D adventuring for a must have offering. No gimmicks, no mini-game love but rather one solid game that all ages of the family can enjoy. Why should this mouse be in your house; let’s take a look.

Gameplay – Mickey climbs into a painting, makes a mess of the wizards Magical Kingdom imagery and years later must come back and clean up the mess that is now called Wasteland. Mickey, a little more mischievous than most may recall, must pick up paint brush and paint thinner to clean this mess by recreating the locations found in Wasteland. Along the way, as gamers point and paint with the Wii-mote, Mickey will encounter long lost, forgotten Disney characters and settings. The adventure will feel like many adventure platformers on the Wii but its unique content, the pulling for Disney archives, keeps it fresh and fun for fans and family. The controls feel natural, needed but the camera can often be a bother and lead to cheap death from occasional baddies and bad platforming. Expect to take on many quests to fulfill the clean up requirements as well as plenty of un-lockable secrets.

Graphics – Mickey and gang look outstanding with a polish few Wii titles can match. That being said the real star(s) were the twisted environments of Wasteland as well as the effects seen with the paint brush and thinner. The revamped clips from yesteryear look great also and mesh very well with a title that, while not always bright and happy, gets the job done.

Sound – While no characters speak the overall sound package is outstanding. The musical score sets the right tone and will leave many a Disney fan wanting these tracks to spice up their daily routines. Did any of the original work sound this good? An outstanding effort especially on the Wii.

Design – Implementation of the brushing, spray and shoot mechanics of the brush and thinner is well pulled off and avoids the gimmick tagging Epic could have received. Instead the controls are as much a fluid part of the game as Mickey and the Wasteland. The levels are all twisted versions of original works and created in a manner which satisfies gamers for cleaning it all up, it looks and feels good later. The tiresome questing and backtracking could have been nicely avoided but overall a solid, well designed first Mickey on Wii.

Miscellaneous – Wasteland and the use of long forgotten characters such as Oswald the Lucky Rabbit help make the content so unique for Disney gaming fans. Titles such as Kingdom Hearts use the well known franchises, the Princesses, but getting a taste of something more unique, original in it’s being forgotten, really satisfies.

Overall gamers looking for a Kingdom Hearts clone on Wii will be a bit disappointed, in a good way. Epic Mickey paints a path all its own with solid controls, great graphics and outstanding sound that utilizes the Wii’s controls in an ‘it-feels-right’ manner. Only a bad camera and resulting frustrating platforming experience take away from the overall package but not enough to ignore. Mickey makes his return to video game adventuring with a solid overall effort that calls on Disney’s past rather than Square Enix’s.

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