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Epic Mickey - hands-on

Mickey can color in bridges and platforms to make his way through the world, and he can also thin walls and obstacles to clear a path or expose concealed items. But here’s where things get a little heavier… enemies can be tackled using both pain and thinner. Convert enemies into friendlies, or simply erase them from existence. It’s your choice, but bear in mind that your decisions can not only have world-altering effects, they can even change how you’re treated by Wasteland inhabitants.

Thus far we’ve been playing snippets of Epic Mickey the we’ve never been able to see to what degree your actions alter the landscape, largely because that’s part of the experience so Mickey’s keeping those cards close to his chest (andpossiblydancing with them (opens in new tab).) However, we started to get a better sense during our hands-on session last week, as we traveled to a transformed Tortugapopulated by numerous pirates in fear for their lives.

Above: "Yar only crime was bein' born pirates!"

One needed us to find his bag of loot so as not to get reamed by an oddly more tyrannical Captain Hook. Three more bilge rats were locked in separate jail cells, who each offered a different mission/reward for Mickey’s help, and then in turn unlock more objectives you wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. You never know how your actions are going to change the world around you, nor what objective you’ll open up, yet even optional sidequests can carry an impact.

Above: Cyber Hook head-on!

But this time, Epic Mickey’s emphasis on player choice took a turn for the dire. It turns out all of the swarthy pirates are shaking in their boots, possibly due to an accident Mickey himself caused years ago. Mickey will encounter a variety of misfit Disneyland animatronics gone mad, and normally he can spray thinner to reveal a vulnerable exoskeleton then walk them up close. As luck would have it, Captain Hook has succumbed to the cybernetic transformation too and is now hell bent on turning his crew into robots against their will.

Above: A less aggressive approach

Ah ha, our first Epic Mickey boss battle ahoy! The thing is, we got to tackle two methods of tangling with Hook. One involved Mickey boarding his ship for a direct confrontation involving a combative puzzle that results in forcing Hook to walk his own plank, effectively disposing him (Yes, even the tick-tocking crocodile has endured a “robotification.”) The other method had Mickey us parkouring up the ship’s masts by way of tricky platform puzzles in order to lead Hook into a distractionary battle with none other than Pete Pan. This method allows Mickey to get what he came for, and still leave Hook alive.

Above: That watch power-up allows Mickey to slow down time

Both were uniquely fun, although doing one or the other greatly impacts how the pirates return to their environment. But the important thing to take away from this is that you cannot do both. You must decide quickly, and without knowledge of the outcome nor the ability to go back and do it over. It’s sort of intimidating, yet assuming the rest of the game is as clever, enjoyable, and wonderfully reverential in its meta-treatment of the Disney legacy, Epic Mickey will provide ample incentive to go through the game more than once.

Above: Not the Pan you were expecting, huh?

I sincerely doubt many of expected a Disney game to offer the same fulfillment of going back and replaying something like Mass Effect, Fallout or Dead Rising. But more importantly, that sort of replayability and depth makes Epic Mickey unlike anything else only on the Wii. I certainly can’t wait to see what else the Wasteland has in store, and we’ll all get to find out together on November 30th.Click here (opens in new tab)to see the latest screenshots.

Oct 26, 2010