Without a doubt, Epic Mickey is a game that is going to polarize people. A few might have read Holme's review and possibly my comments on it. At the same time, I both agree with and disagree with his review. This is possible the hardest I've ever had to struggle to rate something. You can rate Epic Mickey anywhere between 6-10 stars and it never feels appropriate. It almost defies rating.
Disney Epic Mickey is a Wii exclusive developed by Junction Point Studio, headed by the legendary Warren Spector. The game is to be released November 30th and came in the mail for me far earlier than it should have. Disney and Junction Point intend to revitalize Mickey Mouse into a more relevant figure through video games, and reintroduce Oswald to the world. A monumental task to be sure, but in pursuit of that goal, Warren Spector has created a game unlike any other.
The game is simple and intuitive in its control. Mickey is equipped with a double jump, and spin attack, as well as the ability to use paint and thinner with his brush. It's very natural and is utilized quite well in the game itself. For two simple choices of painting and thinning, the game gets quite creative with level design, questing, exploration and boss battles.
One the biggest issue with this game is knowing how to approach it. This game will undoubtedly draw comparisons to the two Mario Galaxy games and I will say right now that those comparisons are, for the most part, going to be wrong because of the simple fact that the Mario Galaxy games are as linear as 3D platforming gets while Epic Mickey's maps are mostly nonlinear. There is nothing wrong with either approach, but it's important to know and understand the benefits and limitations of both to be able to appreciate what Epic Mickey has to offer.
The Super Mario Galaxy games used their linearity to craft obstacle courses with extremely well tuned challenges that are second to none. However the games gave up any sense of exploration or giving the world any coherency in order to do so. With Epic Mickey, it's an entirely different beast. Not only is it non linear, but it also has to resemble a functioning cartoon world. Because of this, the challenges you are expected to go through aren't and will never be as perfectly tuned as in the Galaxy games but that works fine with the game because it compensates with a sense of freedom, exploration and free roaming. Comparing the two based only on how fine tuned the platforming is would be akin to comparing Oblivion or Minecraft to Halo and saying those two are inferior because the archery in those games aren't as fun as shooting in Halo is. Epic Mickey stands with the best nonlinear 3D platformers and this is and this achievement of it is going to get lost in the Super Mario Galaxy comparisons.
While the game and its levels have a slow start for about an hour or so, the game manages to pick up pace and provide some creative, breath taking, atmospheric (A word you will see repeated many times in this review) nonlinear levels. The game's reimagining of known Disney locations provides an incredibly varied game world that is just a blast to explore for both Disney fans and nonfans alike thanks to being well executed both technical and artistically. While much of the magic will be lost on nonfans, the game's dark, colorful, creative and varied environments will still be engaging. The game is also one of the atmospheric and immersive platformers ever made. The mood and tone practically creeps off the stages and pulls you in. There games frame rate does drop from time to time but this is a rare enough happening to keep from ruining the experience.
Speaking of engaging, Epic Mickey sports a fantastic narrative and story that runs the gamut of emotions from hilarious, to tragic, scary and very heartwarming. The game's narrative stands as one of the better video game stories and holds its own with the better Disney and Pixar films. The game gives Mickey and Oswald a startling amount of depth. And the game's many NCPs and quest givers are just a blast to talk to, just to hear what they want to say.
The game's music is simply award worthy. The score does what it needs to perfectly well, always serving to enhance to mood, the action and atmosphere of the game. It dances back and forth between ambient tracks
, truly epic combat music
, and strange, surreal twisted ones such as an awesome remix of "Its a Small World", Hey Holmes, I'm in ur review, stealin' ur pics!
Unfortunately, the game is hit by some considerable flaws. The camera is the single biggest problem in the game. There is a good chance the camera will kill you more than anything else in the game. It can be auto focused on Mickey with the press of a button, but this option isn't always available. While there is certainly an impressive number of quests in the game, far too many of them are simple fetch quests.
Combat isn't this game's forte either. Mickey can befriend enemies with paint, or erase them with thinner. There are also animatronic enemies that require other methods to defeat. Unfortunately, all enemies feel a bit too bloated with hit points, requiring a bit too much paint or thinner to deal with them. At the same time, enemy variety is very dull. Combat could be improved by speeding it up and adding more enemies each with unique ways of taking them down. Boss battles are exempt from this, however. They are all fun, imaginative and have multiple ways of dealing with them. Unfortunately, the game could have used several more bosses to break up periods of exploration and questing.
When moving between game worlds, Mickey jumps through a projector, taking him to a 2D creation of a classic Disney short that he has to traverse to reach the next game world. While these are provide really neat recreations, the feel out of place with the rest of the game mostly because of the lack of danger or challenge in them. It simple feels as though they are padding between the game zones, rather than an integral part of the game play and pacing. That said, most all of these can be completed in less than a minute and aren't that distracting. Not particularly relevant, but it makes me laugh.
Overall, Epic Mickey's numerous flaws are particularly frustrating, not because they ruin the game, but because the game is so good. With better enemy variety and combat, more boss battles, improved and a better camera, and less reliance on fetch quests, Epic Mickey really could have been one of the all time greats. Instead it is simply a rock solid game for Wii owners, and a must have for Disney fans, story loving gamers and fans of platforming and exploration. Score
: 8 -- Great
(8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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