Before I get started, I want to say that this was my first time playing any of the Epic Mickey
games and the first time I played any side-scrolling Mickey Mouse game. I started this demo with a clean slate, so to speak. I didn’t have any previous attachment to the series, so I was going to pass up on this one. However, when I heard Nintendo put up a demo on the eShop yesterday, I decided to give it a shot, mostly because it is a platformer, but also because of the positive buzz it has received from various places. So how did it fair? Well…
As soon as I start the demo, I am disengaged from the game. It tosses you into an introductory cutscene. Well, no biggie. A lot of games have those, right? The problem is that the cutscene lasts about five minutes. Five minutes
. While the art style in the cutscene was lovely, I’m here mostly to test how the game plays. A demo shouldn’t need a cutscene you can’t skip, it should put you right into the game…especially when that cutscene moves at a snail’s pace and doesn’t even allow you the option of speeding it up (which wouldn’t affect it, seeing as it has no spoken dialogue). To recap, I’m not even playing the game yet, and it has managed to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Oy vey.
The art in the opening scene is the same style used in the first Epic Mickey.
When I finally get out of the cutscene, I’m greeted by my first look at the game in motion…right? Well, no. Not at all. You see, the game has to have another cutscene
, this one taking place on the bottom screen with still images of Mickey and Jiminy Cricket and some dialogue. Oh yeah, and the artwork here is different from the first cutscene, which was disappointing (but that’s mostly nitpicking). When I finally get out of this, I get to move Mickey around some. The first thing I do is to try all of his moves, but I pressed every button and could only manage to get him to jump. I’m obviously annoyed at this point, but I press on, still wanting to give this a fair shot. I see the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, and guess what? Yep, another cutscene. Oh my god. Just to be clear, I’m not exaggerating. This is honestly what I felt while playing this. Anyways…
One of the many annoyances encountered in the demo.
So I finally get to the first batch of enemies. Jiminy pops up (again) to give me some simple advice- jump on those guys! Alright, I can handle that. How difficult could jumping on enemies be? I mean, I’ve played Mario before. Except the first couple of times I was the one taking damage, not them. What’s going on? Turns out, as Mister Cricket neglected to tell me, you have to press the jump button again
in order to do damage. Isn’t this unintuitive? In most platformers where jumping is your main attack, you just have to land the jump. That’s it. Ugh. I still moved on, hoping the game would get better.
I believe at this point, I got to the first painting section. This is probably the most intuitive part of the game…and also one of the worst. You see, the game is disengaging me again
so I can draw on the touchscreen. It pulled me out of the game and didn’t really add anything of value to the experience. If, as a game designer, I wanted to make a platformer that incorporated the touchscreen beyond a map, item storage, HUD, or what have you, I’d probably attempt to incorporate the touchscreen more, rather than having it feel blocked off from the rest of the game. Kirby Canvas Curse
and Kirby Mass Attack
were built around the touchscreen, and ended up being good. Now I’m getting off topic. Back to Epic Mickey
An example of using the touchscreen to control the game.
Eventually Jiminy would show his face once more to gleefully tell me I can shoot paint and thinner. He also did the same thing to tell me about my spin attack. Okay, well, that’s great. Now I can use those abilities. I just had to wait until the game decided to tell me I could.
Had I worked to unlock them, such as in Rayman Origins
, this wouldn’t be much of an issue. However, the game just hands them to me arbitrarily, and has the nerve to take me out of the game again
(aren’t you tired of me saying that?) to tell me I can use them. Let’s compare this to Kirby once more: in Kirby’s Return to Dream Land
, right from the first stage of the game, you have access to all of Kirby’s basic moves. The player is free to experiment if he wants. If the player doesn’t know how to do something, the game introduces the concept by a sign- for example, when there’s a big block, the game has a sign post there showing that you can shake the Wii Remote while inhaling for a super inhale. It doesn’t stop the player to tell them that hey, they can do this.
Signs are an unobtrusive way to explain how to use an attack.
Why did I bring this up? Well, at one point in the game, Epic Mickey
actually has a sign like this set up! There’s one part of the level where you have to drop down some platforms, and on the castle wall is a sign that tells you the button combination needed to drop down. Wonderful. To make this clear, they were perfectly capable of doing it like Kirby, but for some asinine reason, they needed little Jiminy to tell us how.
I could probably go on about how this demo frustrated me, such as a couple of instances of Jiminy popping up to tell me the same thing twice in a row because I had to back track a bit to get an enemy to respawn, or how the game feels sluggish even without cutscenes, but at this point I’d be beating a dead horse. Even now, this has been more of a rant than a review. I just don’t think this will end up being a very good game if the demo is an honest representation of it. Perhaps if you go on beyond this introductory bit, but even then you’ll have to deal with talking to the other Disney characters trapped in the castle and needing paint or erase objects in the middle of the stage, both of which slow down the game and don’t do a good job at pulling the player in. I’ll have to pass on Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
, which is a shame, because I like 2D platformers.