One of the launch titles for the Wii U, Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand I really enjoy the concept and the potential that the series offers. On the other hand there is some pretty bad execution on the development side that turns a game that should be great into one that is merely passable. Wasteland is under attack again from a series of mysterious earthquakes as well as a villain that isn’t fully revealed as such until you are towards the end of the game. As you progress in the game you use projectors as gateways to different “attractions” and you’ll have to solve whatever puzzles you’ll come across and try to fix whatever is wrong before you can leave the area. Mickey’s paint brush is back being able to utilize both paint and paint thinner. Oswald returns as well and he is more of the tech guy, able to restore power to switches, hack enemies and more. Local co-op is available as well allowing a friend to drop in and drop out at will.
The game begins with Mickey at home when bad things begin to happen again in Wasteland and Mickey is summoned to go help. After getting the brush you head to Wasteland to find Oswald and find out what is going on. You find out that there have been some strange earthquakes recently and that they have done some significant damage. Among other things the earthquakes have damaged the projector system so you need to go and fix that before you can utilize the different projectors to travel between attractions. The story in the game is decent. It isn’t super deep or anything but it is one the younger audience should really enjoy. As you progress in the game there will be side quests that you can complete and hidden items to find. By doing these side quests and finding these items you will help in the restoration of Main Street, the main hub for Epic Mickey 2. If you are a completionist you will find a decent amount of items to find with some of them being really well hidden. A lot of this is completely optional though and you can simply go through the main story if you so choose.
With this being a Wii U title there is GamePad integration but it is pretty basic stuff. For starters the cinematics in the game can be seen on both the GamePad and the television. The default screen for the GamePad has a map of the area in the center bordered on either side with different options. On the right side it gives you immediate access to your sketches and on the left side you are given access to being able to see the points of interest in the area, the side quests and more with the touch of a button on the screen. There isn’t anything mind-blowing here but I will say that it is nice not having to pause the game to have access to these different options. I can already tell that is something that is going to be really useful to me with Wii U titles.
The gameplay in Epic Mickey 2 works pretty well for the most part. Part of your problems will begin when you have to rely on the AI for your buddy Oswald. It became increasingly frustrating when Oswald couldn’t keep up with me as I as playing. Whenever I reached a location where I needed Oswald’s help to advance it was irritating that I couldn’t do anything except stand there until he made his way over. During combat Oswald’s AI wasn’t much better as it seemed like at times he would take far too long to try and accomplish what needed to be done. When I am fighting enemies and trying to keep them away from Oswald so he can hack an electronic or restore power to something this can be really frustrating. The way that you can get around this bad AI is by playing local co-op with a friend. By doing that he will be controlling Oswald while you control Mickey and you should have a much smoother experience with the game. The camera is improved over the original title but I can see how it is still going to cause problems for some people. I was able to adjust to it after a few minutes but it made a colleague of mine feel ill.
As I was going through the different attractions there were times when I noticed definite slow down. It happened in weird areas too where frame-rate shouldn’t be an issue since there wasn’t a whole lot going on. Perhaps the slow-down in those instances was intentional but if that is true it was a horrible design decision. If it was indeed the frame-rate taking a hit then that is poor optimization on the part of the development team. It took quite a while for Epic Mickey 2 to really “click” with me. Even then it seemed like some of the levels were poorly designed in some aspects and there were instances where it seemed like things were much harder than they really were. I believe part of the problem for me was that I was never really able to fully immerse myself in the experience due to the technical problems of this game. There were times when the audio would cut out or not be there at all. When I would pause the game it would take about a minute before any music would play. At the beginning of Episode 2 there was no audio at all. I quit the game and reloaded my save and finally got some audio. If you play the game with sub-titles on you will notice that there are times when a character’s mouth or speech won’t line up with the sub-title text on the screen. That will, of course, make everything out of sync and it takes you right out of the experience. It is so frustrating as this game has the potential to be so good but is marred by some design decisions and technical snafus.
It isn’t all bad though. I was able to go through the game so it isn’t like it is broken. If you can past the issues I have mentioned then you might enjoy this game. Certainly a younger audience who don’t care about these matters will enjoy it for the simple reason of being able to go on an adventure with Mickey Mouse and the rest of the Disney crew. I did enjoy the homage they paid to older Disney films with the side scrolling levels in the game. When you were utilizing the projectors to travel between attractions you always had to go through a small, side-scrolling level. One level, for example, looked like it was from Steamboat Willie and Mickey had to get through this mini-level to get to the next projector. It was a nice change of pace at times and something that seemed to work well.
I enjoyed seeing a variety of Disney characters as I went through the story. I thought they were utilized pretty well and it was a nice blast from the past for me since I hadn’t seen some of those characters in many years. I really do like the concept of being able to paint things in to existence as well as the ability to erase something when needed. I did enjoy some of the puzzles that I came across and when the AI was working properly, Mickey and Oswald made a great team. Epic Mickey is a franchise that I believe still has a lot of potential. They have had two games now though and while the sequel was an improvement in some facets there are still some glaring issues that need to be addressed if they are planning on making a third entry into the series. That will obviously be dependent on how well this title sells and whether Disney feels like it warrants a third title but if that happens, hopefully, the third time will be the charm.
- Visiting a bunch of different attractions is a neat idea.
- Too many technical issues. Seems like a lazy port.
- The AI can be a hindrance instead of a help at times.
Summary: Epic Mickey 2 is a title that doesn't live up to its potential. While there is some fun to be had it is a bit disappointing since the game could have been so much more.
- Format: Wii U
- Developer: Junction Point
- Publisher: Disney
- Release Date: November 18, 2012