Disney Epic Mickey

Reviewed by Kyle Bell, Posted on 2010-12-24


Developer: Junction Point Publisher: Disney Interactive
Release Date: November 30, 2010 Available On: Wii

Mickey has not had the attention in the video game world that other world-class stars have enjoyed. James Bond, Sponge-Bob, Spider-Man, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even the notoriously bad Super-Man games have been more frequent than Disneyís iconic character. In fact, the last time Mickey starred as the main protagonist in a game, I was barely out of my diapers. So what gives? Why has the black mouse been neglected in the video game arena? Disney Epic Mickey tries to correct that.

The whole project began with some leaked concept art. The world of Disney that we think of is vibrant, orderly, and almost perfect. Epic Mickey was a whole other world, one that we would not think to associate with a Disney brand. The game featured desolate landscapes, defaced landmarks, crumbling architecture, and a dark tone. If they could pull this world off from the concept art, the game would be awesome.

The transition from paper to game world was not as pretty and even a little rough around the edges. A lot of that can be blamed on the under-performance of the Wiiís hardware. Had this game been made for the PS3 or Xbox 360, the development team could easily have made (or even exceeded) the vision set forth in the mind of Warren Specter. It would have been perfectly suited for the PS3ís HD graphics and Moveís precise motion controls. The world of what could have been, however, does not make for a good review of what actually is.

Disney Epic Mickey takes place in a world known as Wasteland. This is a place where the forgotten characters of Disney past inhabit, led by Oswald (the first cartoon star of the company). Mickey accidentally spills paint thinner all over the world when he sneaks into the Wizardís room and begins to fool around with his magical paintbrush. This leaves Wasteland in ruin and a powerful force known as the Blot, which was once contained by Oswald, in a resurgent position.

The development team did a meticulous job of crafting a storyline that would do the Mickey name justice. Some of the best parts of the game come from watching the creatively drawn cut-scenes that look like a cartoon. These in-game movies help explain to the player what to do and how to do it, as well as advance the storyline in a comedic way. However, the gameís graphics just do not match the spiffiness of these videos.

The gameplay in Epic Mickey is primarily a platformer, but one with a twist. You play using a paintbrush as your primary tool and weapon. In fact, other than a spin attack, it is all you can use against enemies. The paint restores life to the world and can turn some of the bad guys into good. The world will become transformed as you use the paint to re-create bridges, ledges, and steps. The thinner has the opposite effect. If you need to remove a door to proceed, this is what you will use. It can also be employed to eliminate enemies.

Unfortunately, the game limits you too much in what you can paint and use thinner on. Not everything in the world you can interact with. From a development standpoint, I can see why they would not want you to just erase all obstacles in your path, but it is frustrating to see that they did not come up with a creative answer to why it only works on certain objects. Likewise, it is also frustrating that the game does not properly reward you for restoring the world. In fact, there really is no incentive.

When I first started playing Epic Mickey, I thought that the game was ridiculously slow and easy. I did not even die once until a good 8-10 hours into the game. The first few hours were boring and monotonous. The camera and controls were a constant frustration. Then as the enemies get progressively more difficult and you begin to encounter bosses, the game becomes more entertaining. You meet recognizable characters like Pete, Goofy and Donald. Old cartoons are brought back to life in 2D side-scrolling levels between worlds. Everything seems to come together and it becomes an enjoyable experience.

Disney Epic Mickey is a game that came in with big expectations. I am not going to sugarcoat it. On many levels, the game disappoints. The source material literally gave the developers a limitless amount of avenues to take this game. For the most part, it was done quite well, capturing the spirit of Mickey and re-living old times. The limits of the Wii hardware are on full display, on top of issues with the camera and controls. A game that should have been a contender for Game of the Year across all consoles is instead relegated to the status of an above-average platformer on the Wii. That said, go out and give this game a shot as a rental. It has enough Disney charm to put a smile on the most cynical gamer.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 7.5
Final: 8 out of 10
Written by Kyle Bell Write a User Review

Reviewed by Kyle Bell