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Junction Point

Epic Mickey 2 Vita photo
Epic Mickey 2 Vita

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two gets Vita launch trailer

Did anyone ask for this port?
Jun 21
// Chris Carter
Epic Mickey 2 came and went, and was pretty much a step back from the original in every way. What started out as a promising homage to Walt Disney's first major creation -- Oswald the Lucky Rabbit -- ended up in disaster bot...

Warren Spector: AAA innovation will inevitably be limited

Apr 05 // Tony Ponce
"Oh, man, am I looking to work with a smaller team! I loved the Junction Point team. Position by position, that was one of the best, most talented, teams I've ever been privileged to work with. But there were just so darn many of them." Spector is ready to shift into lower gear and work on smaller projects, partly due to just how punishing big-budget development can be: "As cool as triple-A games are, the time and money that go into them now is just soul-crushing, at least for me. There are so many voices you have to listen to, so many legitimate stakeholders, it's just a lot less fun than making games should be." On the subject of modern game innovation, he praises smaller, more focused titles like Journey and The Walking Dead while expressing concern over the costs and risks associated with the biggest console titles. And when asked if the PS4's specifications would encourage a new wave of innovation, he replied, "The irony is that increased hardware horsepower often sends us back a few steps in terms of design innovation - it takes so much energy just figuring out how to achieve graphical quality players expect, make sure our characters can pathfind around increasingly complex game worlds, and so on. Just figuring out what to do with new hardware eats up design bandwidth. I'm certain we'll come up with all sorts of innovative designs, but it might take a while." Spector is interested in pursuing mobile development, but he understands that there are a number of hurdles that he'll have to overcome: the lack of proper sticks and buttons and a way to "tell an epic interactive tale (or even a small, personal one) in five-minute chunks." But not knowing immediately how to solve such problems "is exactly why I'm so psyched to try." At the moment, Spector is just enjoying some much needed downtime. He's even started a monthly column on GamesIndustry, the first installment of which ponders the lack of gaming role models who are willing to break out of the "action" framework that most mainstream games are locked into. But whatever he plans on doing down the road, he'll do so with a mind we've only scratched the surface of what gaming is capable of. Life After Disney: Warren Spector's Exit Interview [GameIndustry International]
Warren Spector photo
Junction Point co-founder doesn't regret time with Disney, interested in mobile space
No one is going to dispute that the entire Epic Mickey franchise was the Matterhorn of unrealized potential. How much of that was due to developer Junction Point Studio's lofty ambitions versus Disney's demands and constraint...

Epic Mickey 2 photo
Epic Mickey 2

Epic Mickey 2 coming to the PlayStation Vita

Because everyone wanted this
Mar 18
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Disney Movies UK Twitter account revealed that Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two will be heading to the PlayStation Vita sometime this year. No other info was revealed, but we've reached out to Disney and will have more for...
Warren Spector photo
Warren Spector

Warren Spector ends D.I.C.E. talk with a reminder...

He's unemployed
Feb 07
// Dale North
As you may have heard, Junction Point recently closed. Studio head Warren Spector just ended his D.I.C.E. 2013 Summit talk this morning with a reminder of that, for all his peers at the event. The audience had a laugh. Someone hire this man!


Disney shuts Junction Point & Crytek USA hires Vigil devs

The Destructoid Show gets super surrious 'bout bizness
Jan 29
// Max Scoville
Hey gang! Lots of crazy industry news today, which is less fun than actual news about games. Today we've got new BioShock Infinite and SimCity trailers to show off, good news on the THQ/Vigil Homefront, and sad news for Epic Mickey studio Junction Point. Also, Dead Space 3 is getting a bare-bones PC port, and Frostbite 2.0 is coming to Mac!
Junction Point photo
Another studio goes under
Following some rumors floating around yesterday, Disney has just confirmed the closure of Austin-based Junction Point Studios: "It was with much sadness that we informed our teams today of changes to our Games organization,...

Review: Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion

Nov 24 // Tony Ponce
Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (3DS)Developer: DreamRift, Junction PointPublisher: Disney InteractiveRelease: November 18, 2012MSRP: $39.99 As explained in the original Epic Mickey, Disney characters who are forgotten are sent to live out the rest of their days in the Wasteland. Some try to make the most of their unfortunate situation, but others are none to happy to be discarded. Such is the fate of Castle of Illusion's villainess Mizrabel, and she conspires to escape the Wasteland by any means necessary. Her motivations actually threatens to give the plot an iota of depth, but of course they're never explored further. To achieve her goal, Mizarbel needs Heart Power collected from famous Toons. She is somehow able to drain the essence of beloved Disney icons like Snow White and Simba, trapping them inside her castle and using illusory magic to reflect the Toons' home worlds. So instead of visiting rundown Disney theme park attractions, Mickey will get to explore notable locales like Never Land, Agrabah, and Atlantica. Screens and video do not lie: this is a beautiful game. From the detailed environments to the smooth sprite animations, DreamRift did a fantastic job capturing the bright and colorful Disney style. Each stage features around four parallax layers, and when you flip the 3D slider on, the background simply pops. [embed]239231:45887[/embed] The music is equally rich, with crisp, original orchestrations inspired by the source films. Better still, a small number of tracks are revamped versions of Castle of Illusion tunes. In the first level, you hear a rendition of the forest theme; in the shop, a variation of the interstitial music plays; and in the final showdown against Mizrabel, there's a dark twist on the boss theme. Seriously, I got goosebumps when I heard those nostalgic melodies. Mickey's repertoire includes his signature butt stomp from Castle of Illusion and melee, paint, and thinner attacks from Epic Mickey. All his attributes can then be upgraded in Scrooge McDuck's shop by spending E-Tickets. In a similar fashion to DreamRift's previous title, Monster Tale, you can string attack combos to juggle enemies even after they've been defeated; the more you keep them airborne, the more health and E-Tickets they'll drop. It's a clever way to reward players for laying an excessive beatdown. The big gameplay hook is the use of the touchscreen to paint or thin out objects or characters highlighted on the touchscreen. For example, if a gap is too wide to clear by jumping, you might notice the outline of a bridge on the bottom screen. Tapping it with the stylus initiates a mini-game of sorts where you must trace the outline of the object as accurately as possible, and how well you stay in the lines determines the "effectiveness" of the resulting object. Having to manually draw each one of these paintable objects absolutely kills game flow. I didn't mind it so much the first few times, but the novelty quickly turned to annoyance. This is especially true in segments where you have to paint or thin out several objects in quick succession, such as in the boss battle against Jafar, where he keeps destroying the floor and you have to keep drawing it back in. This mandates that you always have the stylus at the ready, either on a nearby surface or awkwardly wedged between your index finger and the edge of the 3DS. The effectiveness grading doesn't even matter all that much. If you get an "okay," your floating platform might have a spike at the tip that you should avoid touching. If you get a "perfect," your cannon won't disappear after firing three times. Yet there's never a situation where you need the best possible object around, and unless you wildly draw outside the lines, you're always at least going to get an average rating. It's just an exhausting exercise. If I may bring up Monster Tale once again, that game only required simple taps on the touchscreen to feed your critter or direct it to attack. I would have much preferred if Power of Illusion adopted that system, so that a simple tap of the finger was all it took to create or destroy an object. Leave the precision drawing to key events. Before each level, you fill slots on a loadout bar with Sketches, items that you can spawn at any time as long as you have enough paint. Such items include temporary invincibility, Tinkerbell's pixie dust for a slower rate of descent, and the Scrooge McDuck summon in which he'll bounce around the screen on his cane like in DuckTales on NES. Unfortunately, you have to go through the whole rigamarole of painting a Sketch to use it, and with the exception of a floating platform that you can place anywhere you want, none of the items are all that helpful. There's a treasure chest that generates random items, but it's pointless when enemy drop rates are so high to begin with. Even the attack summons -- sorry, Scrooge -- are quite ineffective at clearing the screen of foes. Throughout the worlds are Disney characters in need of rescue. Once you've saved them, they'll take residence in individual rooms inside the Fortress, your home base between levels. By spending acquired upgrade stars or completing optional side quests, you can spruce up their rooms to look like scenes out of their home films. Some quests are as simple as painting a requested object right then and there. In others, you play errand boy between residents of the Fortress, such as obtaining a threading needle from Rapunzel so Wendy can stitch Peter Pan's shadow back in place. It's really quite amusing to see these characters interact outside of their individual universes. Then there are quests that send you back to previously cleared stages in order to rescue characters or locate treasure chests that weren't there on your first pass. Since you can't exit from the menu in the middle of a level without losing all you current progress, you have to play through the entire stage again, even if whatever you are looking for is near the start. In fact, it's not uncommon to have to return to a level three times or more! The only purpose that the lack of a proper "escape" function serves is to artificially lengthen the game, a truth that didn't really sink in until my adventure abruptly stopped. See, there are only three worlds in total, yet I'm certain that four were originally planned. Each world is located in the East, West, and South Wings of the castle -- isn't it's only logical that there ought to be a North Wing as well? If you look at the game's box art, which I've used as this review's header image, you'll notice four villains -- Captain Hook, Jafar, Ursula, and the Queen of Hearts -- peeking out of doorways leading to their respective realms. Neither the Queen of Hearts nor Wonderland appear in the game; in fact, the final box art was altered slightly, replacing the Queen with the non-villainous Mad Hatter. If there was to be a fourth world, it must have been removed very late in development. That's not all. Both the Peter Pan and Aladdin worlds feature four levels followed by a battle against that film's antagonist. However, The Little Mermaid world ends after only three levels, and you never fight Ursula. Rather, you find her just hanging out in the water and rescue her like any other character. The room to the final battle with Mizrabel opens immediately after completing that third level -- it's as though the game is saying, "Eh, that's enough." For what it's worth, I think DreamRift did a remarkable job regardless of the shortcomings. Like the original Epic Mickey, there's a lot of love for Disney history, and like Monster Tale, there's a solid action platformer at its core. It's just a shame that various design decisions, both intended and possibly not, threw a major spanner in the works. Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is beautiful to look at. It's also quite obviously unfinished. The building blocks of the ultimate Mickey Mouse game are here, but we'll have to wait yet another day to see that vision become reality.
Power of Illusion Review photo
Poor unfortunate souls
As a Sega Genesis child, the news that Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion was going to be a spiritual sequel to Castle of Illusion sent me into a fit of joy spasms. Considering how tedious the original Epic Mickey was, my ...

Review: Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

Nov 17 // Jim Sterling
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Wii, Wii U)Developer: Junction Point StudiosPublisher: Disney Interactive StudiosRelease: October 18, 2012MSRP: $59.99 Taking place after the events of the original Wii title, this sequel promises to be bigger and better, yet retreads old ground and does nothing to address the legitimate complaints players had last time. Even worse, those few tiny areas in which Epic Mickey 2 attempts new things only contribute to making the overall product worse.  The sequel's story sees Epic Mickey's Mad Doctor return, now claiming to be a good guy and winning favor with the Cartoon Wasteland's leader, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. In a plot that grows exponentially inane and contrived with each step forward, Mickey finds himself returning to the realm of forgotten Disney characters, teaming up with Oswald in order to resolve the vaguely defined conflict that we're supposed to care about because somebody told us it matters.  This time around, the game is fully voiced, but this is one of the aforementioned new features that help make things worse. The voice acting is universally dreadful, with exuberant squawking and simpering from heroes and villains alike. You may have been fooled by marketing into thinking that Epic Mickey 2 is a musical, but it's not. The only character to really sing is the Mad Doc, in a running joke that stops being funny after the first cutscene, especially since the voice actor's gravelly tones grate on the ears and the tunes themselves come across as awkwardly forced. Only one scene in the game feels like a real musical number, and even then, it's hardly memorable.  [embed]238026:45659[/embed] Gameplay is largely preserved from the original Wii title, and using a traditional controller feels like a notable downgrade. For non-Wii versions, you'll be using the right stick to aim a targeting reticule around the screen, making it perform like a third-person shooter despite the camera, controls, and interface framing themselves around a traditional 3D platform game. As you attempt to move and fire, the camera regularly shifts the reticule away from the target, and the way in which the screen moves independently of Mickey's firing line makes combat uncomfortable and difficult to visually process. It's something I don't think I ever quite got used to.  Once again, Mickey is armed with both paint and thinner, which he uses to remove or add pre-determined elements to the world. He can also use thinner to destroy monsters, or paint to turn them friendly. It's a system that never expands, isn't exploited in any clever way, and generally removes a sense of tactility and interaction with the world. Spraying paint at an enemy just isn't very satisfying, especially when it's such a struggle to keep the stuff on target as the opponents run wildly around and the camera does its best to disorient combatants.  Gameplay is divided into action-platformer sequences with light puzzle elements, and 2D sidescrolling levels. Players use the 2D levels, aesthetically inspired by classic Disney shorts, to travel to new areas of the Wasteland, whereupon they'll be required to engage in some fetch-questing and paint-splashing to advance to the next area. Every now and then, tasks can be solved in one of several ways, with a light "moral dilemma" element to them. Such "dilemmas" never really impact the story and seem to exist just to look interesting, rather than be interesting. Neither the 3D or 2D sections last very long, leading to Epic Mickey 2 becoming quite the disjointed affair that rushes its players from one chapter to the next in a maladroit fashion.  In fairness, some of the 2D sections can be quite enjoyable, especially when they take on the appearance of old black-and-white cartoons. As in the original game, these are the standout moments of the adventure. It's just a shame that they're so short, and almost insultingly simple. The levels are never designed with any intricacy, instead providing rudimentary left-to-right progress with a few obligatory obstacles tossed in the way. It's a shame nobody felt like putting more effort into these areas, as they're the only places where potentially compelling gameplay can be found.  Rather than evolve the gameplay in any meaningful way, Junction Point has instead settled on a tired old standby to give the illusion of evolution -- co-op. This time around, Oswald is available as a secondary character in an offline cooperative journey. Instead of paint, Oswald uses a remote control that stuns enemies or powers various machines appearing in Epic Mickey 2's trite little puzzle challenges. He can also use his ears like propeller blades, ferrying Mickey across chasms in a manner similar to Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.  Co-op is not something to be ignored, and my advice to you is that, if you insist on playing this game, you do so with a human partner at your side. Relying on the CPU to control Oswald is a big mistake, as his A.I. is pathetic and regularly works to sabotage a solo player's progress. Left to his own devices, Oswald would rather run around worthlessly than actually help, choosing to attack enemies only at random and often preferring to scurry about in circles or let himself get hit. At times, he'll disappear from the game entirely, respawning on a whim. Pressing a button to call him over only seems to work half of the time.  He'll activate machinery only when he feels like it, and he has an awful time following Micky through sections that involve jumping on multiple raised platforms. One particularly nasty area requires both players to scale a wall, at the top of which Oswald is supposed to glide both heroes across to another ledge. Oswald simply refused to climb up that wall when I tried it, and disappeared into thin-air whenever Mickey reached the top. Only after multiple attempts did I manage to somehow trick Oswald into jumping up there. That is how you deal with Oswald as a solo player. You have to fool him into doing what he's meant to do. On other occasions, Oswald played an active role in getting me hurt or killed. If there are ledges that sink into deadly lakes of thinner when stood on, you can bet that Oswald will stand right on the thing and let it sink. At other times, he would jump into me and knock me into the thinner. Perhaps worst of all was a certain boss that Oswald kept saying he'd distract (constantly, because all dialog loops incessantly), so that Mickey could squirt paint at its back. This tactic soon fell apart when it became clear that "distraction" meant "follow Mickey around so the boss is always facing the player."  And for what? What is so good about co-op that it was worth rendering single-player so unbearable? Nothing. Just a few shoehorned, old-fashioned, enforced cooperative moments where both players have to pull switches, or Mickey holds something open so that Oswald can zap it. The kind of conceited co-op banality that has been injected violently into any sort of game desperate enough to want a popular feature listed on the back of the box but remains too lazy to make that feature do anything meaningful. This kind of crap should not be tolerated anymore.  As noted, the camera is about as unhelpful as Oswald is. Not only does it try and remain in a fixed perspective at all times, it's almost always set at some terrible angle that gives an unclear view of the surroundings. The interface is also dreadful, with both the action and jump commands bound to the same button. This leads to Mickey constantly jumping whenever the player wants him to grab an item or open the many doors that lead to various pointless shops or item-gathering sidequests. Mickey himself is slow, his jumps are pitiful, and his attacks have no precision -- especially notable for enemies that require use of thinner and head-stomps, something the uncoordinated, sluggish mouse isn't properly equipped for.  The Power of Two is a consistently annoying experience. From block puzzles that boast despicable floaty physics to NPC and tutorial dialog that repeats itself obnoxiously, one could be forgiven for thinking that Epic Mickey 2 was designed as a means of interactive psychological torture, built to exasperate enemies of the state into lunacy. Between its unfunny humor, unsatisfyingly brief levels, broken co-op A.I., petulant camera and grotesque voice acting, Epic Mickey 2 is the kind of game that drives sane people mad, and mad people sane.  It can at least be said that the game looks good. It still has the distinctly cute visuals that drive home the missed potential of the original idea, but the bright colors and unmistakable Disney aesthetic look a lot better on an HD console than it did on the Wii. The nostalgic 2D levels bring a measure of obscure charm to the experience, and may be worth seeing for those willing to put up with the suffering required to get there. You'd have to be an insanely loyal Mickey fan, though. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two does nothing to improve itself over its predecessor, repeating old ideas while refusing to fix problems that are glaringly obvious to even the least tasteful of dolts. Anything added in the sequel has been done so to the its overall detriment -- the voice acting grates, the musical pretensions are vapid, and the cooperative schtick is corny, strained, and a total intrusion for solo play that slows progress, causes trouble, and does not bloody work.  At least Epic Mickey felt fresh enough that some of its faults could be overlooked by the more forgiving of players. The Power of Two has no such charm to hide behind. It's a gormless, chafing, unquestionably horrid little waste of time. Only the hardcore Disney obsessive need look into this one, and I don't advise they look too deeply.
Epic Mickey 2 photo
Fault Disney
Epic Mickey is easily among the more tragic wastes of potential we've seen in the videogame industry. It first whipped fans into a frothy lather of excitement when concept images were shown, displaying a twisted and macabre t...


Disney reveals new levels for upcoming Epic Mickey titles

Rainbow exploration for consoles, and hot mermaid action for 3DS
Oct 16
// Jason Cabral
Good Sir Warren (and the fine folks at Disney Interactive) have unveiled a few new levels for both Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, and Castle of Illusion's successor, Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. As ex...

Warren Spector and I are totally best friends now

You guys wish you could be me
Oct 14
// Tony Ponce
I failed to mention that, immediately following the Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion preview event last month, Warren Spector led all the journalists on a tour through Magic Kingdom. We went on the Magic Carpet, Haunted...

Preview: Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is pure magic

Sep 24 // Tony Ponce
Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (3DS)Developer: DreamRift, Junction PointPublisher: Disney InteractiveRelease: November 18, 2012 The story behind Power of Illusion's existence is just as incredible as the game itself. Sitting in that meeting room with all the other press members, I tuned in as Warren Spector recounted how DreamRift became involved with the Epic Mickey universe. In case it isn't public knowledge by now, the original Epic Mickey is officially the best-selling, single-platform software title in Disney's history, ensuring that the sequel would be getting the full five-star treatment. Junction Point has been working hard to get Epic Mickey 2 running as many platforms as possible -- Wii, Wii U, PS3, 360, PC, and Mac -- but Warren insisted that the 3DS should receive something a little extra special instead of a straight port. With resources spread thin, it was time to shop for outside help. Without knowing what they were applying for, several studios familiar with handheld development pitched potential concepts. DreamRift's pitch was for a game in which you drew objects on the touchscreen in order to spawn them up top. The idea meshed so well with Epic Mickey's paint-and-thinner mechanic that Warren immediately brought the fledgling company on board. Epic Mickey was about honoring the forgotten characters and films of Disney animation lore. On the flip side, Power of Illusion is about honoring forgotten elements of Disney videogame history! It was only fitting that Power of Illusion would be based one such game from Mickey's past -- Castle of Illusion. As much as I love Castle, I wondered why it was specifically chosen to be Power's base versus another title from the Illusion series or even from the Magical Quest series on Super Nintendo. Peter Ong's response is perhaps the greatest thing ever: The simple answer is a very selfish reason. Although I deeply respect and like a lot of the 16- and 8-bit platformers that came out on the Genesis and SNES from Disney, Castle of Illusion in particular is one that I hold a biased and intimate connection with, in that it was a game that, when I was a kid, I bought. And I didn't get to buy that many games, being a kid with no income, so I was fortunate enough to buy one of the greatest games of all time and play it for half a year or more... before I REALLY became obsessed with it! That's how long it took me before I could beat it in a day, guaranteed. And for about a year after that, I would beat the game every single day! I spent a lot of my childhood playing that game! That there, my friends, is some straight-up Jiminy Cricket, "Wish Upon a Star" shit! As the story goes, the evil witch Mizrabel and her Castle of Illusion have faded from people's memory, thus both have wound up in the Wasteland. She hatches a plan to capture beloved Disney toons who still exist in the real world in order to drain them of "Heart Power," the key to escaping the Wasteland. She alters parts of her castle to resemble these toons' home worlds, so unlike in the first Epic Mickey, you'll be exploring environments based on popular movies and meeting extremely familiar characters. On an interesting note, Mizrabel on the Genesis looked similar to the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Early in Power, she demonstrates the ability to assume the guise of any Disney villain, though her favorite form is that of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, which explains her current appearance. As Chad explained in his preview, the connection to Castle is quite strong. Mickey's gait is similar, he performs the same butt stomp attack (with the same Genesis sound effect, no less!), and he encounters the same low-level mushroom critters. Best of all, the music in the opening area is an orchestral arrangement of Castle's forest theme! When I heard it, I let out such a mirthful laugh that one of the demonstrators walked on over to ask what was so funny! Of course, elements from the first Epic Mickey have been incorporated, such as the spin attack, the ability to defeat enemies with paint or thinner, and E-tickets to use as currency. If you notice a shadow or a glowing object on the touchscreen, you can tap it to create or erase it on the main screen. Using the stylus, you trace the object as best as you can, and the higher your rating, the more effective the object will be and the more your special meter will fill up. These drawing / erasing segments are my only area of concern so far. Often there will be many interactive objects you'll have to manipulate, such as blocks that must be removed from the paths of a sequence of Mickey-launching cannons. While you doodle, the main action is paused, interrupting the game flow. Plus, it pretty much necessitates having the stylus ready at all times. But I didn't let that sour my experience, especially not my enjoyment of the beautiful environments with layers upon layers of parallax planes. The game is so rich and beautiful because Disney gave DreamRift access to the original movie art files! I'm talking source materials with the original animators' notes still on them! The team could pretty much use almost anything from the Disney Vault. Speaking of the Disney Vault... it exists! Can you believe it? I assumed it was nothing more than a marketing myth, but no! It's a massive archive that preserves anything deemed of significance, even artists' pencil and eraser shavings! Just thought you'd like to know! Anyway, the most prominent feature of Power -- the one that Warren has always wanted to include in his games but was always forced to cut -- is the Fortress, where rescued toons set up camp, hang out, and offer you quests and other goodies. Throughout your adventure, you'll encounter characters like Goofy, Wendy Darling, Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and yes, Scrooge McDuck. In the Fortress, you can upgrade their rooms to better match an iconic scene from their original films or shows, and as you rescue them, you'll earn "Heart Power" that Oswald can use to unlock new levels. One other gift that rescued toons offer is their service as support characters. You can equip them as "sketches" on a pre-level loadout, then you can spawn them at any time by tracing their outline on the touchscreen. For example, when you summon Scrooge, he'll perform the pogo bounce from DuckTales on the NES! That one earned another joyous chuckle from me! Until now, we've only been exposed to the Peter Pan world, which encompasses the London skies, Neverland, Captain Hook's Jolly Roger, and so on. For this preview, the West Wing of the castle was accessible, granting entry into the Aladdin world. You can run through the streets of Agrabah, explore the Cave of Wonders, and even meet Mr. Diamond-in-the-Rough himself. Another cool thing I failed to mention is that these illusory worlds are in a constant state of flux. In other words, you can be strolling through the Agrabah market only to discover a dimensional fissure where pieces of the castle's interior peek through. One minute you are hopping across quicksand, the next minute you are standing upon solid marble tiling. It's a very nice touch. Before production began, Warren and Peter compiled a massive list of Disney elements they wanted to incorporate in the game. After Disney crossed out a few suggestions, there was still enough leftover to fill roughly 20 individual titles! The issue then became "How will we narrow our scope to meet a realistic target?" instead of "How will we make the most of our limited allowances?" That's not a bad "problem" to have at all, plus it leaves room for a sequel! Mickey-Oswald co-op à la World of Illusion, anyone? Aside from my concerns regarding the drawing mechanic, Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is shaping up to be a dream game in more ways than one. I say "shaping up," but development is basically done. We're just sitting on our hands until November 18 by this point. I was hoping this event would temporarily sate my hunger. I was so wrong.
Epic Mickey 2 on consoles can go jump into a river
I had a bit of trouble containing my excitement when Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion was first revealed. Not only did we learn that it is a hand-drawn 2D platformer by DreamRift, the same team behind Monster Tale and He...


Epic Mickey 2 dev diary talks up camera, co-op play

May 16
// Conrad Zimmerman
A new "behind-the-scenes" video for Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, featuring Warren Spector and other members of the Junction Point team, as they discuss some of the new features which have been implemented in the g...

Epic Mickey 2 lead platform is Wii, 3DS version confirmed

Mar 25
// Tony Ponce
GamesRadar has uploaded a nearly five-minute walkthrough of the upcoming Epic Mickey 2, demonstrating the 360 build and the new drop-in, drop-out co-op. GR has confirmed suspicions that the Wii version is the lead platform. ...

Epic Mickey 2 is 'the first musical comedy game'

Mar 23
// Dale North
At Epic Mickey 2's announcement press conference in Austin last week, Junction Point's Senior Creative Director, Warren Spector, surprised attending press members by calling the game "the first musical comedy game in the hist...

Epic Mickey 2: The three biggest issues addressed

Mar 23
// Dale North
At Epic Mickey 2's announcement press conference last week, Junction Point's Warren Spector talked about how the three biggest issues in Epic Mickey have been addressed for the upcoming sequel, which takes the Mouse and his p...

Preview: Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

Mar 23 // Allistair Pinsof
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii)Developer: Junction PointPublisher: Disney Interactive StudiosRelease: Fall 2012 The announcement of the first Epic Mickey left me scratching my head. “The co-creator of System Shock is making a Mickey Mouse game revolving around moral choices and platforming?” I said. Then I said it again and tried slapping myself awake. Despite all odds, this pairing worked in terms of aesthetics and storytelling. Spector’s love letter to Disney’s origins was a dark, ambitious vision that stood out despite attached labels like “Wii game” and “kid-friendly.” Spector proved himself, once again, to be a master in world building and orchestrating a journey that becomes personal through decision-making and character investment. On the other hand, Spector and his then-freshly-faced studio managed to partially fail at problems that 3D platformers overcame a decade before Disney Epic Mickey’s release. Our own Jonathan Holmes said it best in his review: It's ironic that the game's writing does such a great job of showing off its characters from multiple angles, while the in-game camera has the horrid tendency to auto-adjust to the most unhelpful positions. A New Coat of Paint When you mention Epic Mickey’s sore points, Spector doesn’t talk around those issues. He talks directly about them. Or, more specifically, how they are being addressed in The Power of Two. The biggest improvement in the sequel is the camera. In the original, players struggled to find a proper angle after fiddling with the controls. In Epic Mickey 2, players won’t even have to manually adjust the camera if they wish to follow only the main path. Junction Point wants players to always have a perfect view of the world and action without laying a finger on the camera buttons. With a dedicated team making 1,000+ changes to the camera, the results need to be seen in action to be appreciated. Most players will still adjust the camera in order to explore and discover hidden items, but it never is a necessity. Outside the larger hub areas, I didn’t feel a need to use the D-pad camera controls. The demo lacked any intensive platforming or combat segments, so it’s hard to say that the new system will work flawlessly under pressure. At the very least, Junction Point is taking this concern seriously. A new camera is nice, but you know what’s better? Color. HD color! I liked Epic Mickey’s art direction in concept more than execution. The scale of Epic Mickey was impressive for a Wii title, but the game had a murky, dull look to it that soured the immersion. The sequel, in contrast, is a cheerful, primary-colored world that is a joy to explore. The 2D sections return with more depth in the background, and the 3D sections are populated with the nostalgic architecture found in old Disney films. The lighting effects and new models are a step up from the original, but Epic Mickey 2 doesn’t look up to par with modern current-gen offerings. Its origins as a Wii title are pretty transparent. However, other modern platformers don’t have worlds as lively, detailed, and inviting as this. Let’s just hope the nasty lag in the demo is a temporary bump in the road and not a long-term challenge. Partners in Crime How do you make a game better? More stuff, of course! More challenge! More places! More players? Why not? Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, ruler of the Wasteland, was a big part of Epic Mickey, and he plays an even larger role in the sequel. Oswald will accompany you throughout your adventure and use his electric remote to paralyze enemies and operate machinery. The character is controlled by an advanced A.I. system that works without player direction. However, at any time, a second player can take the computer’s role and control Oswald. Along with doing some basic moves, Oswald can also help Mickey with co-op specific abilities, such as a vertical toss that helps Mickey reach high places and a Banjo-Kazooie-esque propeller spin to glide across a gap. It’s nice to have some help in combat, but I don’t see why Oswald needs to be gimped. Though the rabbit can paralyze enemies, it’s up to Mickey to defeat or save them with his own devices. No matter how you play, it will be Mickey’s decisions that make up the adventure; Oswald is just along for the ride. Hopefully, he won’t get in our way while we make the tough calls as Mickey. A Musical JourneyAs if the original didn’t have enough genres attached to it (RPG, platformer, action-adventure), Epic Mickey adds one more: musical.Throughout the game, players will be serenaded by songs from a notable cast singing tunes by returning series composer Jim Dooley and songwriter Mike Himelstein (Shrek, Dorothy of Oz). The developer and publisher claim that Epic Mickey 2 is the first videogame musical, but it’s a tough call to make until we see the context and frequency of these songs. There wasn’t any singing to be found in the demo. However, the opening cinematic finds The Mad Doctor returning to sing a song (“Help Me Help You,” he repeats). It’s no instant classic, but it’s not grating, either. Spector has professed his love of musicals before, so I expect these scenes will be made with a lot of heart and musical history in mind. What's more exciting to me is that the game will have a full voice cast. No longer will characters’ words be paired with N64-era sound loops. Now, each character -- even those who never had a voice in Disney’s history -- will speak their dialog. The full voice cast hasn’t been announced at this time, but we do know that Frank Welker (Transformers) will be playing the role of Oswald. Along with the jump to HD, voice acting can go a long way in making the world of Epic Mickey more contemporary and inviting. Hitting the Right Notes The demo I played was a brief taste of what’s to come. As a result, it’s hard to get a good impression of just how far these improvements will go in making a superior sequel. The demo consisted of three segments: a tutorial, a 2D side-scrolling stage, and an open area filled with characters with conflicting requests for the player. The tutorial stage left the strongest impression, showing off the revamped art direction (in HD) and camera. The camera turned smoothly by itself (think Uncharted) while I climbed up into the stars, as the game recreated a memorable scene from Fantasia. This soon led into a brick cellar area where lovingly animated personified mops flung water from high above (à la The Sorcerer's Apprentice). It was a beautiful moment that spoke to me more than any of the Steamboat Willie sections of the previous game. Then again, I fell asleep to Fantasia every night as a kid! Speaking of the 2D Steamboat Willie sections, Epic Mickey 2’s side-scrolling section in the demo was a step forward in both visuals and design. The following open-world segment, however, was a bit less impressive. The combat of the first, love it or hate it, didn’t seem to have undergone any significant changes. Within a small hub in Frontierland, Mickey and Oswald could take on a few different objectives. I found the camera problematic in this area, when played in split-screen co-op. With half a screen, it was hard to get a good view of the action. It may be unfair to expect the camera to work as well in co-op as it does in single-player, but ... it sure would be nice, wouldn't it? Junction Point may have jumped the gun in showing off Epic Mickey 2 a little bit early, but it still has a lot of promise in being a brighter, bolder, and bigger sequel. Between its beautiful HD colors and lively setting, The Power of Two presents a joyful world that I can’t wait to jump into and explore. Here’s hoping Epic Mickey 2 has us singing its praises when it arrives this fall.

From the unexpected original to the inevitable sequel, Mickey Mouse and veteran game designer Warren Spector are on a strange ride together. With characters breaking into song for musical segments, full voice acting, split...


Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two confirmed for 360/PS3/Wii

Mar 21
// Jordan Devore
Talk of a sequel to Epic Mickey has been going around for what feels like quite a while -- I was almost starting to get worried. This week, the game was shown off to media. We'll have a full preview for Disney Epic Mickey 2: ...

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