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Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two preview - hands-on in the gulch

After its charming predecessor, Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (opens in new tab) has a lot to live up to. Anything bearing the names Disney and Mickey is getting awfully close to a lot of pop-culture obsessed hearts, and a game from Deus Ex creator Warren Spector (opens in new tab) will always have high expectations. We loved (opens in new tab) the original Disney Epic Mickey (opens in new tab), and the idea of co-op between the now friendly Mickey and Oswald just plain warms our heart. Having sat down with latest PlayStation 3 build of the game, we’re happy to report that this sequel feels well on the way to exceeding expectations.

Right off the bat, we were struck by how rich the visuals had become on Sony’s HD machine. It had the same pronounced art direction that made the first Epic Mickey stick in our minds, but since the original was a Wii exclusive, it was limited in the resolution department. This time around, Epic Mickey 2 will be bringing the fun to all three major consoles, as well as the PC and Mac (opens in new tab). And if you think you might miss the point and shoot Paint and Thinner firing from the Wii, the game supports controls for the PlayStation Move.

Our brief tour of the game took us to the Gulch, a newly unveiled area the developers were excited to show off, and with good reason. A copper colored canyon, it’s the remains of the now-drained Thinner seas from the last game. With effigies of classic Disney character carved into the sides of canyons, it’s also a winning tribute to Frontier Land, a classic section of Disneyland we hoped would appear in Epic Mickey 2 (opens in new tab).

There was a lot to paint up or thin down in this most grand of canyons. In order to grab battery spheres, which power machinery throughout the Wasteland, Mickey had to melt or build up various parts of the world. To reach one sphere, we had to melt the struts around a tower that held it prisoner. The tower fell, and became a bridge to a previously out-of-reach area. Thinner and Paint use still affects Mickey’s alignment and other ‘toons opinions of him, but it really matters what you’re aiming at. Taking down a rickety old tower won’t make Mickey any friends or enemies. However, choosing to thin or paint enemies, and what you do with important landmarks throughout the Wasteland, still carries a lot of story weight.

The number of battery spheres we managed to grab in the Gulch had a big bearing on the next area we visited. It was full of rickety old Disney relics, all painstakingly researched by Epic Mickey 2’s story team. The number of machines we found in working order was directly dependent on the power sources we were able to collect in the last area. It seems that Epic Mickey 2 will require a pass with a fine tooth comb in order to see every little nugget of nostalgia.

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is coming together nicely. The stellar art direction and mischievous tone of the original are back, but with intriguing new play elements that should bring more gamers to the Epic Mickey fold. We really enjoyed the sense of continuity this sequel maintains; the way Mickey and Oswald have formed a friendship and begun to work together is a really amusing blend of gameplay and story. If there’s any developer who can get two great games out of once licensed character it’s Warren Spector. And if there’s one character who deserve this digital love, it’s Disney’s Mickey Mouse.