Back in 2010 when I played Disney Epic Mickey, I found it to be a rewarding experience, as did Senior Editor Jason Fanelli. The game was dripping with Disney history and style, which when combined with its interesting combat and exploration mechanic via paint and thinner made for something I was really able to sink my teeth into. However, Epic Mickey was far from perfect thanks to a wonky camera, lack of voice acting, and a few other issues. With the sequel now playable for the first time at E3, I got to take a brief look to see if Mickey’s adventures have improved in this second go-around.
The premise for the follow-up title isn’t that difficult to grasp. Months have passed since Mickey saved Wasteland from The Blot. One would think that everything is going well for Oswald and friends, but strange natural disasters such as earthquakes have been hitting the alternate Disney universe. Not helping matters is the appearance of blotlings, which are combining themselves with the creations of The Mad Doctor, who claims innocence and asks forgiveness. Oswald allows it, but the distrustful Gus the Gremlin and Ortensia – Oswald’s girlfriend – seek Mickey and request his return to set things right.
Playing the game on the 360, the upgraded visuals are apparent. Disney has never looked prettier. Full voice acting has been included this time around, solving one of the biggest gripes about the original. These aren’t just any voice actors, though; Disney got its own official actors for every character to portray their respective roles in Epic Mickey 2. This also means that during my demo session I got to hear Oswald and Gus’s official voices for the first time ever when the two characters appeared on screen.
However, playing on the 360 also eliminates the possibility for playing the game with motion controls. Limited to just the controller, it was a bit odd to move Mickey around, control the camera, and shoot paint and thinner all at the same time. Staying automatic for the most part, the camera can be moved by using the target reticle via the right thumbstick. With Mickey’s movement controlled with the left, it felt a tad bit awkward. It seems to be an improvement on the original, but hopefully more will be done by release.
With paint and thinner returning as the primary play mechanic for Epic Mickey 2, player choice makes a comeback as well. This time around it will carry a bit more weight, as buildings in areas that you paint in or thin out will remain so upon a player’s return. Boss battles can also be won in either fashion, and how a player chooses to fight will change the ending of the encounter as it did in the original.
Epic Mickey 2 will feature a full drop-in, drop-out co-op mode where the second player takes the role of Oswald, whose abilities are helpful, but mainly act in a supporting role. He can glide as a helicopter to help Mickey and himself better navigate both the 3D world and 2D stages, work with Mickey for a super jump, and use his remote control to stun bosses and zap enemies. Anyone without a friend to play with won’t have to worry, though, as Oswald is also a fully capable AI companion when not controlled by a second player.
Epic Mickey 2 seems to be on the right track to be an improvement over its predecessor while delivering more of that same Disney flavor fans loved. We’ll know for sure when the game is released on November 18 for the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.