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Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two review

Mediocre
AT A GLANCE
  • Improvements to the camera
  • Fun Disney nostalgia
  • Occasionally strong art direction
  • An overwhelming number of uninteresting sidequests
  • Terrible teammate AI
  • Difficulty navigating the game's world

Disney’s Epic Mickey was an interesting experiment, telling a tale of the Wasteland: an amalgamation of Walt Disney's notable, but forgotten characters, worlds, and attractions. While it was full of great ideas and boundless ambition, the Wii-exclusive suffered from a litany of technical and design flaws, threatening to make Epic Mickey as forgettable as the obscure characters it referenced. But you can't keep a good mouse down, and developer Junction Point has returned but two years later with the co-op focused, multiplatform release of Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. Sadly, it would appear that two heads, in this case, are not better than one.

By request of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey Mouse returns to the Wasteland yet again, and finds the reformed world cracking under the sudden onset of powerful earthquakes. Even stranger, the natural disaster is followed by the Mad Doctor's return, as well as his sudden (and unexpected) turn towards heroism. But larger than his shift to friend from foe is his new tone--this time, he sings his way through his dialogue, proving his "good guy" status by hitting high notes. It's here that the "musical" side of Power of Two begins and ends, and it's a shame that more characters don't also carry a tune, since it's a bit jarring when only the Doctor is rhyming. It doesn't help that his songs simply aren’t very memorable, either, sounding more like the in-between sections of a musical than the actual score.

The original Epic Mickey told the tale of discovery and exploration, and in the process incorporated a massive amount of little-known Disney lore. For the follow-up, Power of Two takes on the themes of redemption and friendship, but instead of finding a new niche (or expanding into a latter-day Kingdom Hearts), The Power of Two attempts to occupy the same space as the original, and comes up short on all accounts. The two traverse the few remaining armpits of Disney nostalgia, delving into Ventureland, Ostown, and Mean Street as they search desperately for any remaining pockets of Disney history worth investigating.

Missions are spread throughout the somewhat open world, but without a strong in-game map or navigation tools you'll often spend your time getting lost in the same few locations, hoping to stumble into a sewer grate or projector that'll link you to your objective. Along the way you'll also be thrown a multitude of side quests and optional missions rescuing lost goblins, taking photographs, and collecting pins, but the idea of going off the beaten path (and, usually, getting lost) might be enough to prevent you from hunting any of them down.

Fleeting moments of enjoyment, as well as occasionally beautiful vistas, are found once you do arrive at your destination. Though Wasteland might not be as whimsical and unique as it was in the past, there are still some remarkable set pieces--from massive rainbow waterfalls to riverboats stuck in whirlpools. 2D platforming segments, too, are visually interesting, filled with details and references that'll make the child in you beam. It's a shame, though, that once you've found these remarkable sights that there's not that much interesting to do with them.

Asymmetrical co-op play (with another player or computer-controlled AI Oswald) has Mickey armed with his signature paintbrush, and the ability to either add to or destroy the world with paint or thinner respectively. Oswald, on the other hand, carries a machine that can zap foes and activate switches. This leads to occasionally interesting co-op mechanics that have each character using their own tools to complete an objective--a task aided by the fact that the camera has been improved upon. Each room will present the duo with the ability to take on the challenge in a variety of ways, using stealth, thinner, paint, co-op, or brute force to solve the room's tricks. But it doesn't matter how many different options are given; the different situations are never all that fun. They’re often more meticulous than anything, as the duo run around shutting down machines and fighting uninteresting enemies while trying to find a switch that'll lead you to the next area, which is filled with more machines that need shutting down, and more uninteresting enemies that need defeated.

What's more, some segments are borderline unplayable with an AI-controlled Oswald. When attempting to progress through areas he'll run uselessly into walls instead of hitting switches, and when trying to take on a massive boss he'll tailgate Mickey instead of running distraction like he's very obviously supposed to do. More confusingly, though it's a game very clearly made with co-op in mind, it lacks the necessary features to make the two-player experience a convenient one. It's often hard to see where your teammate is, and there's nothing on-screen to indicate it, and though drop-in/out play is a nice feature, you'll likely use it most to temporarily take control of Oswald, just to see if the AI is acting up or if you're in the wrong area. Oswald's AI swings wildly between competent and absolutely unforgivable, making an already middling experience significantly worse.

Functionally broken AI and awful navigation tools makes Epic Mickey 2 a poor experience all around, and worth avoiding for all but the most die-hard of Disney fans, and even they might feel betrayed. The first Epic Mickey was a whimsical, flawed trek through Disney nostalgia. But whereas the original’s novelty kept it interesting enough for fans to justify overlooking the flaws, the sequel carries with it no such charm. Instead, Power of Two is both less whimsical and more flawed, disappointing anyone who had hopes that this sequel would hit all of the notes its predecessor missed.

This game was reviewed on PlayStation 3.

More Info

Release date: Nov 22 2012 - PS3
Nov 18 2012 - Wii, Xbox 360 (US)
Available Platforms: PS Vita, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Disney Interactive Studios
Developed by: Junction Point
ESRB Rating:
Everyone

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20 comments

  • Fuzunga - November 17, 2012 10:58 p.m.

    This is not how you handle your second chance.
  • Darkhawk - November 17, 2012 5:39 p.m.

    It'd be nice if they re-think this series a bit and take it out of the darkness of Wasteland and into the world of Disney we know and love. Imagine a third entry that takes place AT Disneyland, with all the different Disney characters we love, à la Kingdom Hearts!
  • dcobs123 - November 17, 2012 9:36 a.m.

    Aww, I was looking forward to this, hope they're still planning on porting the first one to other consoles though.
  • mayday991 - November 17, 2012 9:30 a.m.

    If Chris reviewed this it would get a 9. I miss Chris.
  • Redeater - November 17, 2012 1:13 p.m.

    I'll be honest I wish he was back on T'dar but I don't miss his reviews in the least. The possibility of him actually giving this a 9 is kind of disgusting. You need to take a fair bit of objectivity reviewing games when people like me use the review as a factor when purchasing a game. I was slightly miffed when he gave Conviction an 8 only to say "fuck that stupid game" and talk shit about it later realizing he scored it too high.
  • bass88 - November 17, 2012 8:25 a.m.

    Oh dear. I was going to get this out of loyalty to Warren Spector and because the first game, while flawed, was very interesting. I think Warren Spector needs to make a violent videogame. I know he was critical a while back about ultraviolence in videogames but I believe he could make a philosophical game about violence. Sadly though, this probably will make a fortune and Spector will make Epic Mickey 3 instead.
  • GrumpyArab - November 17, 2012 4:21 a.m.

    There is a typo under "YOU'LL HATE" section: Difficulty "nagivating" the game's world.
  • RamenDragon - November 17, 2012 1:44 a.m.

    According to the new GR 5-star rating system, a 2.5 represents mediocre. The words in this review make it sound like absolute trash. Just not sure the score properly represents the review.
  • FemJesse - November 17, 2012 4:17 p.m.

    I'd say it might be trash, but it's not completely unplayable broken?
  • FemJesse - November 17, 2012 4:22 p.m.

    2.5 out of 5 is a 5 out of 10. At least that's how Metacritic sees it. If you got a 50% in school you'd be taking home an F. Just some different ways of looking at it. I don't think the game star system is the same as the movie star system...
  • scifly - November 17, 2012 12:55 a.m.

    A 2.5! Chris must be rolling over in his Capcom grave after this score.
  • shawksta - November 16, 2012 11:26 p.m.

    Wow really?......... and i rather enjoyed the demo..... WELL atleast we got Power of Illusion on 3DS
  • Redeater - November 16, 2012 10:56 p.m.

    You have got to be fucking kidding me! Jesus I thought it would have been impossible to score lower than the first one! While I enjoyed the original (somewhat despite the bugs) I had high hopes for this one assuming they would correct all the flaws. Guess I'll take a pass on this one then.
  • D0CCON - November 16, 2012 11:11 p.m.

    Remember that Chris Antista, the Disney maniac, scored the last one. A 9 from him on a game like this would likely be a lower score from many other people.
  • Redeater - November 16, 2012 11:21 p.m.

    Yeah I figured. I think the last one deserved a solid 7. Regardless, I'm still going to assume that this one is going to score lower on Metacritic than the first one if it is as broken as this review makes it sound.
  • Lord-Rain - May 27, 2013 9:56 a.m.

    I played through the first one on multiple occasions, did not find any flaws, glitches, programming errors or any of the sort. I very, VERY much enjoyed the first Epic and am looking forward to playing the second beyond just the demo.

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