09 Jan

Epic Mickey is a 3D platformer developed by Warren Specter for the Nintendo Wii. Taking place in the town of Wasteland, Mickey makes use of a magic paintbrush invented by Yen Sid to solve puzzles, defeat enemies and traverse the world. After curiosity compels Mickey to disrupt the Master’s experiments (once again) he accidentally creates a being of darkness that jumps into the world. Mickey rushes back to his own world but is soon dragged back by the mysterious being of darkness. Luckily for our intrepid mouse hero, he grabs the magic brush to start setting things right.

Mickey finds himself being tortured by a maniacal doctor until he is rescued by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, said to be the master of this world known as Wasteland. Mickey must now undo his mistakes using the power of the brush and its ability to alter the many landscapes and vistas of Wasteland. Along the way, you’ll meet with the forgotten residents of Wasteland and earn their trust by way of fetch quests and item trading.

The visuals in Epic Mickey create a unique world with distinct characters, but a lot of the areas look alike. Primarily because this is a platformer-type of game, the obstacles are often the same, consisting of pits to fall in and rivers with whirlpools to suck you in. You can only see this repeated so many times before the environments start to feel repetitive. You’ll be glad the 2D sections fare better, as they are expressly designed to recall the look of classic Disney cartoons, and they do this well. From Steamboat Willy to Oh, What a Knight, these sections are lots of fun to look at with all sorts of action going on in both the background and foreground. From a steam shovel going through buildings to vultures as gracious stepping stools, you’ll come to wish the gameplay was equally well thought out.

Mickey is well designed and familiar looking as always. I like the extra spring in his step when jumping and his somewhat elastic like nature shown when falling from a great height. Given that the Mouse’s appearance was the most important thing to get right in this game, they did it well.

While most of the non-player-characters are also expertly designed, your interaction with them is anything but, making them rather dull. The enemies known as Blots fare better, but don’t have enough variety. From the thinner-throwing-mop-thing to the eyeball on legs, they all mostly just walk around before charging Mickey. All of them are easily dispatched and not much fun visually. It can be kind of fun to watch them dissolve when hit repeatedly with thinner though; reminds me of the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Good times.

Music has that Danny Elfman-Tim Burton type of presence, with an ominous tune for every hub world. I could recommend it if it didn’t seem to be used for far too many sections of the game. It doesn’t matter if the music is great, its effectiveness will lessen if it is overused. And Epic Mickey does just that.

There is no voice acting during the well-animated cutscenes, perhaps a necessary sacrifice for the Wii. Most of the dialogue is well written and clever, so I would have appreciated even minimal voice acting. What we get instead is grunts and similar tones to express each situation, much like in Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure in 2009. When things like this occur, we only have to think of Conker’s Bad Fur Day. For the developers to fit that much voice acting on a cartridge while this game can’t do similar on a much larger DVD leaves me to wonder if they simply cut corners.

Epic Mickey plays similar to other 3D platformers, with the player leaping from various areas to make their way toward a specific goal, usually somewhere off in the distance. There are both 3D and 2D sections, with the former making up the bulk of the game. In addition to making your way across a variety of paths and obstacles, Mickey’s magic paintbrush also figures into combat and puzzles with two different types of techniques available for use. Paint can be used to cover holes and fill in missing scenery. While thinner does the opposite; removing doors or making holes in the ground. This can be useful for removing rocks from your path or dealing with enemies.

Speaking of combat, painting enemies entirely bluish will turn them to your side. You’ll know you’ve done it right when you see little Mickey-hearts coming from the enemies. These foes will now attack other enemies and generally aid Mickey in his quest. Thinner will kill enemies outright, causing them to dissolve into a mass of goo. Thinning enemies is often the quickest way to deal with groups of enemies at a time, but diligent players will want to experiment with both methods because of the morality system.

Mickey can be good or evil in this game, mostly through actions that are defined as such. Acting one way or the other opens up new missions while closing off others, giving players a potentially unique experience each time they play through the game. If the gameplay had been better however, I might have been interested. Extending a dull experience isn’t fun to me, it’s just tedious.

Epic Mickey is a game that relies on its settings and unique premise a little too much. Underneath its clever story, the gameplay is merely average, compounded by the fact that you’ll be doing the same things over and over again. The sidescroller platforming levels were a neat homage at first, but you’ll grow tired of them by the 7th time you have to run and jump through each one. Add in the fact that you have to repeat them whenever you backtrack in the game, and you have a recipe for repetition. This game is ultimately only for the biggest Disney fans who don’t mind unimaginative games. I’m a Disney fan, but I was left wanting more.

10 thoughts on “Epic Mickey Review”

  1. Epic Mickey is unimaginative? That can’t be right.

    I don’t have a Wii but Epic Mickey sounds ambitious and interesting. I can’t wrap my head around the game not being worth a mere rental.

    1. I know what you mean, but when I rented the game, I also found it super boring. Even the environments seem really bland. There are some good ideas executed poorly. The best part about this game is the unlockable concept art which shows us what the game could have been.

      Sadly, I think this game is below average, doing nothing to stand out from good platformers of the past ten years.

      1. Too bad then. I had faith in Spector but they all slip sometimes.

        I think if i had a Wii, i’d give it a shot nevertheless. The art style feels worth a look.

        1. Pretty much why I gave it a try, but even the art direction looks like a bad rip off of a Kingdom Hearts game.

  2. Everything you just said in that review minus the last paragraph makes it a review. Everything you said in the last paragraph doesn’t justify a don’t bother.

    I know the platforming isn’t as solid, and the camera can be finicky at times, but it is not an unplayable game.

    The whole thing with grunts and groans with no voice acting was all intentional to go back to the older cartoons when it was grunts and groans with sound effects. Would you lambaste The Legend of Zelda for sticking to this point; maybe, maybe not (depends if you think they need to evolve the characters, but Nintendo is hit or miss when it comes to voices).

    The game is worth at least one playthrough for the story alone. Going back a second time is just to be good or evil depending on the route you took last time due to the moral choices of saving the Gremlins, or sacrificing them for E tickets.

    I suggest you reconsider your evaluation of the game, and don’t base it on you being a Disney Fan (I am one but I can be neutral when I need to be; IE when it comes to reviewing or talking about games that I may or may not like).

    1. Let me just clarify my post. I am being neutral if you couldn’t tell. I could go into things about how digging up lost Disney history is worth purchasing the game (Disney fan stuff), and how the implementation of these “lost” Disney works could bring around new works in these series. I didn’t do this cause I was pointing out your flaw in your recommendation that was more positive then it was negative. I know this is a game to be hyped about, but when it comes down to reviewing games, you have to put all your biases and hype aside and play the game for what it is.

      Oh, and unimaginative, you have to be kidding me. Sure they could have gone all post apocalyptic steam punk, but the devs have to work within Disney’s constraints. Dredging up Disney history and bringing it back to people who may never have seen the stuff, is hardly unimaginative.

  3. I must admit I am a tad surprised by your verdict. I found Epic Mickey to be a charming title hampered by a myraid of flaws. Because of this I can see how someone could find the awkward camera and middle of the road gameplay off-putting, but I always saw the Elder Geek rating system as this:

    Worth Buying = 5/5
    Worth Buying/Worth Renting = 4/5
    Worth Renting = 3/5
    Worth Renting/Don’t Bother = 2/5
    Don’t Bother = 1/5

    Now I’m a huge Disney nerd and found the characters and scenery to provide hours of enjoyment, but even with it’s flaws I wouldn’t have given it a 1/5. I would have to argue that the game is at least a rental. Still, I respect your review and enjoyed reading it.

    1. It’s really more like:

      Worth Buying = We recommend a buy, PC or downloadable game so renting isn’t possible.
      Worth Buying/Worth Renting = We recommend a buy, but if you’re still unsure or short on cash go for a rental.
      Worth Renting = A love it or hate it game, your enjoyment off it depends to much on your personal preference, or it’s way to short and has no re-playability.
      Worth Renting/Don’t Bother = We’ve rarely, if ever rated a game this, it’s contradictory.
      Don’t Bother = We recommend you skip this one. Only buy/rent if you’re a die-hard fan of the series/genera/developer in question.

      Assigning points just doesn’t work with our system, which is really how we like it.

      1. Thanks for the explanation of the rating system. I wasn’t sure about the Don’t Bother for Epic Mickey, but it ultimately came down to that for me due to the hype that the game inexplicably received and how it turned out.

        There was a time that I was getting excited near the middle of the game while scaling a mountain. I thought that there would be somewhere new and unexpected when we caught up to Oswald. It didn’t happen and the gameplay just wasn’t going anywhere.

        Epic Mickey’s reviews were quite varied throughout the industry. GT and Nintendo Power liked it. Giant Bomb and Gamespot didn’t. It seems to be a polarizing game.

        1. Well, you’ve got a dark steampunk version of old Disney characters Zeldalike made by Warren Spector. It’s a no brainer to get on the hypetrain over it.

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