Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two review
You have got to hand it to Mickey Mouse, a character created over 80 years ago who just keeps coming back for more. Rather than settle into retirement, the veteran character has returned once more in Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two and Blitz Games Studios are hoping that they can build upon the success of 2010’s well received Epic Mickey.
Taking place after the events of the original, The Power of Two takes place in Wasteland, the world that is inhabited by forgotten cartoons and is as close as you will get to a ‘dark’ Disneyworld. After helping save Wasteland in the last title, Mickey is brought back once more by Oswald to stop a series of earthquakes that threaten to destroy their world and figure out exactly why the Mad Doctor is all of a sudden offering to help save the world.
Without saying too much to ruin the story, it is a pretty decent, albeit simple tale that doesn’t seem out of place in the Disney canon. There is no escaping the charm of these classic characters, they give the game a real sense of familiarity and ease you into this new world. As you play through the story you will encounter some characters that you will recognise from your favourite films as a child (or now… whatever floats your boat), only they might not be as you remember as they are the Wasteland animatronics version, so they might be missing the odd leg or eye…
Paint your platforms.
Fans of the original will be familiar with the core gameplay mechanics in Epic Mickey 2. The crafty mouse is armed with a magic paintbrush that will either let you draw or remove objects around Wasteland. It is a brilliant concept and offers some of the games better moments as you can use paint or thinner to get through some of the puzzles. The opening stages of the game get you to grips with this system quickly. It does however feel limited at times. Having control over selected objects instead of everything really does remove the magic from the paintbrush.
What is new in this sequel is the option to play as Oswald via co-op. Armed with a remote control that can stun opponents or re-programme mechanisms, the lucky rabbit does offer up some variety if you are playing co-op. Strangely you can’t flick between characters if you are playing through the story on your own. This quickly results in having to rely on the AI to recognise when you need Oswald to use the remote to complete objectives, and finding yourself awkwardly trying to position yourself in places that get Oswald to finally use the remote. For a game that is clearly reliant on two characters, an option to switch between them in single play is missed greatly here.
When the two characters work in sync however the game is a lot of fun to play. Each characters ability when working in tandem is a joy and makes Epic Mickey 2 standout from other third person adventures. Playing with others is definitely what Blitz Games Studios had in mind, and as with most games with a co-op option it is more fun with friends.
At the heart of Epic Mickey 2 is an ace platformer and it’s one that can stand toe to toe with some of the best out there. These sections come in the form of the DEC/projector transport areas which you will use to get around each new area in the game, whilst the viewpoint and gameplay is changed into a side scrolling platformer. The gameplay here is reminiscent of Little Big Planet and is easily the highlight of the game, and the environment is a wonder that is filled with an abundance of Disney related scenery, whether it is a character or a location. Your paintbrush abilities will aid you in some of these stages and take it to new heights. It is just a pity that there are not more of these sections in the game which are old school platforming at its best.
The majority of the game is a full 3D-platformer and while perfectly decent it never seems to match the standards of the side scrolling sections. A lot of the shortcomings during the 3D areas is down to the in-game camera. In order to give you full control over the paint mechanic there is a moving crosshair. This would be perfectly at home on the Wii but when playing on the 360 it makes aiming a very loose and frustrating experience. All it takes is for you to be against a couple of enemies before the camera and crosshair aiming system quickly unravels. Luckily these moments don’t really occur until the late stages of the game.
Time is the enemy.
Enemies in the game are fairly manageable and have a solution to bringing them down. In true platforming style the boss battles are all a matter of figuring out a weakness and exploiting it until beaten. In turn the boss battles expose Epic Mickey 2’s greatest weakness – length. Featuring only three boss battles it highlights how short this title actually is. There are some side quests included to pad it out but it really will only take you 4-5 hours to complete, which will prove disappointing to fans.
A game that features some great concepts and platforming levels, Epic Mickey 2 does boast some really enjoyable elements that will please fans both old and new to the franchise. Where it does fall down is in the execution of parts which should be solid for a game in this genre; a poor camera, short duration and frustrating AI lets the game down. For all of its shortcoming’s though, it is hard to resist the charms of the famous Mouse and ultimately you’re left pretty satisfied at the end of this adventure.