Epic Mickey - hands-on

Yeah… I’m a giant Disneyphile already completely sold on Epic Mickey based on the concept alone. I’ve giddily written several thousand words on the game, easily, and I honestly apologize if my approach is wearing thin. Especially, now that I realize that I’ve been a little remiss in my GameZ Jarnalist duties, as I’m not sure I’ve gone into what exactly I like about the actual gameplay… Whoops.

Above: Wield Godlike paint power inthis bizarro version Disneyland

Last old timey toon comparison, I swear! In my defense, I’ve just been so infatuated with the sheer fact thatEpic Mickeyexists and what it’s doing, and I'm not alone. Let’s be honest, when a game’s based on a legacy almost a century old, as well as recent events in animated meta-history, that’s obviously part of the appeal.

As for the gameplay, Epic Mickey’s been shrouded in a bit of mystery. While screenshots give it the appearance of a Disney-infused 3D platforming renaissance, there’s something a bit stranger, and just a bit darker afoot beneath the cartoony façade. The premise feels to me a bit like if a young Tim Burton had conceived and directed Who Framed Roger Rabbit then swapped the noir detective story with a gothic tale of a Toontown under fire. If that “What if?” cream dream doesn’t appeal to your gaming sensibilities, think of Epic Mickey like Banjo-Kazooie if it were turned into an RPG similar to Fable. Or maybe Disney’s KOTOR!

Above: Mickey travels between worlds via sidescolling levels based off classic cartoons. This one from our latest demo was inspired by 1929’s “Jungle Rhythm

On the surface, Epic Mickey plays a helluva lot like Super Mario Galaxy 2 - and would you look at that? - Mickey's also got a flick-of-the-wrist spin move that’s not just got for pummeling enemies, it can extend jumps in mortal situations. Add to that, you’ve also got what looks like hundreds of isolated challenges off, as well as optional missions off the main path. Seriously, there are tons items hidden and otherwise (Here’s one for the Disney dorks: One of the hidden items is collectible pins!!*squee*!!) But unlike the isolated, unrelated challenges found in Galaxy or Sonic Colors, all of the Disneyana inspired worlds in Epic Mickey are connected in ways that still always immediately clear.

Above: Bring dormant machines back to life with a splash of paint

Two meters on each side of the screen mark the tools you’ll unleash by pointing the Wii Remote: Paint and Thinner. And since Epic Mickey takes place the animated Wasteland populated by forgotten characters made of ink and paint, that basically boils down to the power to restore life and/or erase it, as well as the dynamic consequences that stem from it. Did we mention the Epic Mickey comes from interactive visionary Warren Spector? Probably about a billion times, but Epic Mickey’s mysterious morality system is certainly where you can see Spector’s Deus Ex pedigree come into play.

Above: The nonlethal alternative