Most people, when complaining about Epic Mickey, will point to two things, the camera and the graphics. Iím going to be upfront and say that I donít address these two issues in this blog because in my mind, theyíre not issues at all. The camera in Epic Mickey is comparable to any other 3D Adventure/Platformer game and I had almost zero issues with it. I think most people that complain about the camera either didnít realize you have total control over it with the D-Pad or they were just too lazy to use the camera controls. Sure there were times when youíre not allowed to rotate the camera and it fixes itself in an awkward position, but those times are few and far between, most of the time that the camera becomes fixed, the position is just fine. As for the graphics, the most common complaint is that they donít live up to the concept art and that somehow, if the game were on 360/PS3 that problem would be solved. I honestly feel that anyone making such a claim hasnít played the game all the way through. Such locations as Mickey Junk Mountain and Skull Island look great in game and easily evoke the same feelings as the concept art. I played this game on a 40 inch LED TV and it looked awesome the whole time. I donít think the game would benefit from a transition to HD systems at all. The only reason I would want to see the sequel on 360 and PS3 is so a wider audience could play it. That being said, letís address what I think does need to be improved for the inevitable sequel to Epic Mickey.
1. Trim the Fat
In my mind, the biggest problem that Epic Mickey has is repetition. The last few hours of the game are spent running around the various hub worlds youíve found, completing fetch quests and eventually fighting the ink blot in each area. The problem is, each fight with the Ink Blot (or rather, his ďbloticlesĒ) is almost exactly the same. By the time youíve cleared all the bloticles out of all the hub worlds, youíre damn ready for the game to end, or at least I was. But no, there is still an hour or two of gameplay left. Sure we get thrown a new idea in the form of a rotate the gargoyle statue puzzle, but the problem is they repeat that puzzle four different times as well. It seems that whoever designed the quests in Epic Mickey just designed 4-5 different quests and then repeated them throughout the game in order to pad its length, and it really shows in the endgame. This is exactly what Jim was talking about
in his recent piece on game length. Junction Point wanted to avoid accusations of their game being too short, so they threw in a bunch of filler. Itís ironic because the game would have been much better if it was about five hours shorter.
2. More Variety
Going along with what I said in number one, the game would benefit from more variety in its quests. Now, I still think the game was overly long, so I still think they should shorten its run time but in addition to that, they should really design a few more quest types for the game. Almost every quest in the game, both the main quests and side quests, are fetch quests. Now, I donít usually complain about fetch quests, but when that is 90% of your game, there is reason for concern. If they had included more variety in the quests, the game would have felt like much less of a grind.
3. Allow Back Tracking
If there is anything that annoys me more than a game full of fetch quests, itís not being able to finish said fetch quests. Sure there is a lot of back tracking in Epic Mickey, you have to go to the hubworlds like Mean Street, Ostown and Venture Land many times throughout the course of the game, but the places you would actually like to explore again, like Lonesome Manor and Skull Island, only let you visit them once. Then there is the fact that most of these places have items you need to finish your quests, so if you missed them the first time around, tough shit, start the game over. This is simply inexcusable in an adventure game and they donít even explain why you canít go back to these areas in game. This lack of being able to explore freely and at your leisure made the game feel much more constricted than it would have otherwise. Honestly, if Junction Point Studios only fixes one thing on this list, I hope this is it.
4. Longer 2D Levels
A lot of people claim that the 2D levels of Epic Mickey are among the best parts of the game, and they would be right. My wish is that for the sequel, they are made a bit longer. Maybe instead of just using them as transportation between levels, they could also be used in place of the larger 3D levels. Not exclusively of course, but a good mix of short 2D levels, long 2D levels and long 3D levels would make the game feel much more varied.
5. Better Combat
The combat in Epic Mickey is severely lacking. There are some good concepts behind it, such as the choice between using paint and thinner to defeat enemies, but the execution sucks. First of all, only a small handful of enemies can be befriended with paint, if I were designing the game, every single enemy would be able to be turned into a friend. Also, the controls for shooting the paint and thinner need some work. The lock-on function is a god send, but it would be nice if instead of just locking the camera on your enemy, it locked your brush on the enemy as well, so you wouldnít have to aim. It was just too hard at times to be precise with your brush in the heat of combat. Last but not least, get rid of the infinitely respawning enemies. I hate every game that uses this tactic and Epic Mickey is no exception. Sure they explain why the enemies respawn in game, and you do usually get an opportunity to destroy whatever machine they are coming out of, but that doesnít stop it from feeling extremely cheap. Nothing pisses me off more than clearing an area of enemies for exploration, only to find out when Iím done that every single one of them respawned and I need to shut down some stupid machine and do it all over again. Either fix the frustrating combat or nix it all together. Epic Mickey would have been perfectly fine as a pure adventure game with no combat at all.
Now keep in mind, I donít hate this game, in fact it has become one of my favorite Wii games. However, no game is perfect and I feel these fixes Iíve come up with would move it that much closer to perfection. What are some things that you think could improve the Epic Mickey formula?