In life there are a few iconic figures known to man in all corners of the world. The iconic figure in gaming is without a doubt, Mario. Sadly, there is no new Mario game this holiday but to substitute for the suspender wearing plumber is an iconic character that is even bigger than Mario. Of course, I am talking about Mickey Mouse. Mickey is no stranger to video games, the mouse has appeared in several NES games and has more recently been seen in Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts series. Mickey is done being a co-star in gaming and is headlining in Epic Mickey. Developer Junction Point, which is ran by well know game designer Warren Spector, had a tough job ahead of them with Epic Mickey. Not only do they have the pressures of working with an iconic figure, but they also have to live up to the name of the game; It has to be epic. Epic Mickey is a lot of things, but epic is not one of them.
Epic Mickey’s story begins when the curious mouse, Mickey, enters Yen Sid’s workshop, and messes with things he shouldn’t touch. Mickey takes Yen Sid’s magical paintbrush and drops thinner all over a town model and creates the evil Shadow Blot. Years later Mickey gets dragged into the town model by the Shadow Blot, and once again must wield the magical paintbrush to restore the wasteland he created. The story is great and shines through because of they way it’s told and illustrated. Throughout your adventure you will see a mix of great cartoon illustrations and impressive in-game cinematics. Epic Mickey is a linear game, but there are also some side quest that you can do for characters throughout the wasteland. Epic Mickey does not fall short when it comes to giving you something to do, find, or collect. You will spend over 10 hours before you complete the story campaign.
Mickey fights enemies throughout the wasteland with the magical brush by either spraying his foes with the thinner or the paint. The thinner dissolves your enemies and certain objects in the wasteland, it is also the less friendly way of dealing with enemies. The paint restores objects in the wasteland and turns enemies into allies, this is considered the friendly way of dealing with enemies. When you encounter bosses, you have the option of choosing how you deal with it, you can either paint or thin them out. The options you make throughout the game will determine the outcome in the end. Dealing with common enemies was extremely dull, and way too safe. I don’t understand why my spin move attack or a solid jump to the head wasn’t enough to deal with enemies. It almost seems like the best way to deal with enemies is to walk right past them, seeing as how you can advance through the entire game having only fought against the bosses.
Gameplay problems don’t stop there. Epic Mickey has some minor camera issues. There were plenty of times when I was platforming from high up in the air and the camera would freeze frame in the opposite direction of where I had to jump to, resulting in me failing all the way down. More times than not, the camera is in your full control but when the camera gets wonky I can’t help but feel like I’m playing a terrible platformer on the N64.
Epic Mickey is really well done when it comes to its technical merits. The graphics are are good enough for the type of power that the Wii can process. The art direction is what really stands out to me. The art designers did a great job of making the wasteland seem dark and a home to the forgotten toons. The music works well in conjunction to the visuals. It sounds like music you would expect to hear from a place within the Disney world. Composer James Dooley did a magnificent job with the orchestral melodies in each of the different worlds.
Disney Epic Mickey wasn’t the game I was expecting nor the game I wanted. It’s a game with a entertaining story, great visuals, and some good nostalgic moments. A work of art if you will. It’s the great painting at an art museum that you take in for a moment and then walk away from. You should seek out the game if possible, you might be more forgiving when it comes to the game’s dull gameplay. Epic Mickey is not an epic fail, it’s just inappropriately named.