When people think of Disney, 999 times out of a 1000, Mickey Mouse is the first thing to come to mind. While some people may be the oddball who thinks of Goofy, Donald or even the lovable Stitch, Mickey is the icon of the company.
And even though he is Walt Disney’s most famous creation dating back to 1928, he is not the first. One of Walt’s earlier creations, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, is brought back to center stage alongside Mickey Mouse in Mickey’s first true solo adventure in years on any platform, and his first on the Wii.
Disney Epic Mickey was created by industry legend, Warren Spector. Also the general manager and creative director at Junction Point Studios, Warren is best known for being the director of the 1997 hit Deus Ex. Focusing on a game where “playstyle matters”, Spector spoke about a game that would change the way people feel about Mickey and the way they interacted with him in this world.
Choice is a big factor in the world of Disney Epic Mickey. First and foremost, people get to choose if they want to play as Mickey “the creator” or Mickey “the destroyer”. Those these aren’t official names for the lovable mouse, that’s how the game’s basic mechanics break down. During gameplay, players are equipped with a magical brush that either shoots out paint or paint thinner. As you’d expect, paint allows Mickey to create objects while thinner destroys them. The paint can also be used in combat to coat enemies until they decide to befriend Mickey while thinner sticks to destroying the pesky ink blot foes.
Mickey will also be able to use these actions to decide how to deal with some of the quests presented to him through the course of the game. Do you help paint someone’s house or just erase them from existence? Ultimately, these choices will determine rewards for completing quests, depending on the method taken, as well as interactions with characters later in the game. The Pete’s aren’t going to be too fond of Mickey if he has thinned their brothers off of Wasteland.
Sadly, one of the biggest issues of Disney Epic Mickey is the game’s control, most off-putting because of the inconceivably bad camera. It becomes incredibly frustrating as it pretty much does what it wants, when it wants and even using the button to reset the camera directly behind the player doesn’t always do what it is intended. Call me a purist but if a button has one lone function, it should be able to perform that task every time. Nintendo was able to do it with Super Mario 64 over ten years ago so there is no excuse why they can’t now.
Story and Presentation:
Disney Epic Mickey is a great fan service to people who have cared about and still appreciate the classic creations of Walt Disney. The game starts with the wizard Yen Sid (yes, Disney backwards) creating a model using a magical paintbrush which Mickey accidently stumbles across, creating the Shadow Blot.
Trying to fix his mistake, Mickey spills paint thinner all over the model, which players later find out erased many things within the world of Wasteland, the miniature world within the model. Months pass and Mickey is ripped through his mirror again by the Shadow Blot where it and the Mad Doctor try to steal Mickey’s heart. Saved at the last minute by Oswald, the lucky rabbit, Mickey embarks on a quest to set things write in this twisted world of forgotten characters.
This story is the main force that keeps the player going through the game’s 15 hour campaign since the gameplay is not. Sadly, the menial fetch quests that occupy much of the game’s story in between platforming sections becomes quickly tiring and repetitive. Traversing large distances only to be told to visit a new person so they can have you transport some special item feels like a bad task from an MMO and isn’t needed in a platforming adventure like Disney Epic Mickey.
Disney Epic Mickey is easily one of the best looking games to be released for the Nintendo Wii. The art design is fantastic with the contrast of bright vibrant colors along with the hazards of the Wasteland. Classic (and not so classic) characters look fantastic after their 2 to 3D evolution while still retaining their charm from Walt Disney’s original creations. The game’s cut scenes are beautifully animated as well in a very unique textured style which brings character emotions to life in an amazing way.
The sound of Disney Epic Mickey leaves something to be desired. Hampered possibly by size limitations on the Wii, there is no voice acting through the game. We know there is a voice actor out there doing a good job on Mickey as seen from the Kingdom Hearts franchise so it really is a shame that not even the game’s title mouse is given a voice. All other characters, many of whom were never given voices, likely because they never had any back before they became forgotten artifacts, speak through text boxes. These make the game feel incredibly archaic when going through the story.
Disney Epic Mickey may have been one of those cases where a title could not possibly live up to the hype, especially with a name like the one they chose for it. Having Epic in the title only leads to people already preparing themselves for Epic Fail jokes. And while Disney Epic Mickey was not a failure, it also fell short of expectations for many gamers. While the story and cute animations may appeal to more casual players and younger children, the fundamental gameplay holds Mickey back from ever reaching any Epic status. Sadly, even the creative genius of industry great Warren Spector wasn’t enough to keep this train from derailing into the Wasteland of games that are average at best.
Developers: Junction Point Studios
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios