The ability to use the entire game like an interactive canvas will undoubtedly entertain kiddies for hours, but there’s something far more hardcore hiding underneath the Epic Mickey’s surface. This world is alive, and all too aware of what you’re doing. Everything Mickey does matters intensely, and in ways never entirely predictable. Wasteland inhabitants respond to you differently depending on what you do, and your actions can then indirectly affect what quests open up to you in the game.
OCD gamers like me might even get a little frustrated, as Epic Mickey forces you to make crucial decisions with very little guidance and sometimes… there’s no going back. There’s a morality system in play and sometimes you’ll see where it’s going, sometimes you won’t.
Other times you’ll be presented with a noble task, and then a faster, easier way out. I got stuck on one such quest and still haven’t quit punching myself for essentially bargaining my way out of it. That said I absolutely applaud the fact that there are options. In fact, seeing, doing, and collecting everything in Epic Mickey is impossible to do in a single playthrough. But it’s hard to fault a game for offering ample incentive to replay it.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 ? Yes… and no, especially if you’re asking about the 1st Galaxy. There’s a layer of spit-shiny polish only Nintendo itself seems to be capable of delivering consistently missing in Epic Mickey. But the game is darker visually, and it’s still above and beyond anything else on the Wii. I actually found the levels more creative and intricate than the rehashes in SMB2, as they tended to be designed solely to get Mario from point A to point B, whereas Mickey’s levels allow him to take on numerous directions, goals, and dare I say… plot points, at once. They both have semi-useless power-ups, but nothing will ever be as awful as Spring Mario.
Kingdom Hearts II ? Yes! The story is (20,000) leagues better. There’s never a dull moment or wasted scene and the characters are rooted in a “real” situation more befitting of their history, instead of getting squeezed into the unnecessarily convoluted roles of Square-Enix crybabies. The combat in Epic Mickey is technically more simplistic - using only jumps, paint and spin attacks - yet it’s somehow more versatile than a Keyblade, not to mention infinitely more refreshing than simply hitting one button over and over again to unleash hack-and-slashery.
Toy Story 3 ? Yep. It’s not only that every single setting in Epic Mickey looks more polished and unique, the best levels of Toy Story 3 were the ones you built yourself! Pixar’s platformer didn’t stray far from all the stuff you’ve seen before, whereas level design of Epic Mickey is practically a revolution for the genre. I’ll give Toy Story credit for including several characters from the Pixar stable, but none of them can hold a candle to the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s first appearance back under Disney for the first time in over eighty years!
For me, the surprises, historical reverence and inspired platforming creativity make this the Wii game of the year. Hopefully, it won’t all be lost on the broad audience it’s aiming for, because both Disney nuts and old school gamers will find Epic Mickey well worth their while. It’s a life-affirming tribute to both forgotten characters and game genres well worth remembering, with an all new added twist. And contrary to how it looks, there’s a startling amount of maturity and replayability wrapped within this family-friendly package.
Nov 24, 2010