Disney Epic Mickey Review

Epic Mickey

Mickey Mouse is no stranger to gaming. We’ve been controlling the mouse for as long as games have been around. I personally started with Mickey Mousecapades on the NES. Now, however, Mickey embarks on his biggest gaming adventure ever in Epic Mickey, but does it hold a candle to previous games from the House of Mouse? The answer is a resounding yes, but some technical issues may turn some non-Disney gamers away.

Unfortunately, the technical issues that I speak of are rather important to the gameplay as a whole. First and foremost, I have yet to encounter a camera quite as frustrating as the one here in Epic Mickey. Every time you run into a corner, the camera gets stuck, N64-style, in that corner with you and doesn’t fix itself until you start to move again. Junction Point included the ability to center the camera behind Mickey by hitting C on the Nunchuk, however I find myself pressing that button just as much as the other action buttons.

The rest of the controls are excellent, with almost every button placed perfectly on the Wii Remote/Nunchuk setup. Paint and paint thinner are shot with B and Z, moving Mickey around is done with the Nunchuk joystick, and shaking the Wiimote will initialize a spinning attack. The one other gripe it that the button to look directly out of Mickey’s eyes is the 1 button on the Wiimote, which can be a bit awkward. Other than that, the controls are fine.

For all of the technical annoyances, the rest of the game is simply superb. The story starts out slow, but as you play you will become more and more absorbed in the world you are trying to save. The Wasteland is a fascinating place, and those who inhabit it are just as interesting. Oswald starts out as a pest, but quickly evolves one of the most complicated characters in all of gaming this year, let alone this specific game. I found myself really taking to Oswald, and I hope that this game will catapult him into the overall Disney spotlight (finally).

Epic Mickey Cutscene

This Wasteland environment is full of Disney lore — 80 years of it to be exact — and these homages range from the direct reference (the magic carpets in the Asia boat ride section are straight from Aladdin) to the more subtle approach (the song playing in the first area of the game will sometimes play the melody to “Once Upon a Dream”). For Disney fans, finding all of these little shoutouts may be just as entertaining as playing the game itself.

Speaking of the sounds, Epic Mickey boasts an impressive soundtrack, some original and some adapted from famous Disney toons. Other than a small amount of narration throughout the game, there are no spoken words in Epic Mickey, the voices instead conveyed via unintelligible vocalizations from Mickey and the gang. This may sound disappointing, but it’s not nearly as grating as Simlish can be, and it’s better than nothing at all. The music is unreal, and is easily one of the best soundtracks of the year. It’s great hearing the melodies of classic Disney songs as you’re exploring the world, as it brings you back to when you originally heard those tunes.

One of the most impressive things about the game is its morality system. Now, the idea of “morality” in a Mickey Mouse game is a bit absurd. It’s not like you’re choosing who lives and who dies like in inFAMOUS. However, the choices you do make will affect how things turn out in the end. One of the first game-changers comes just before the Asia Boat Ride in the form of a meeting with Small Pete. He says that his boat crashed into the Gremlins’ home by accident, but the inhabitants don’t believe him. If Mickey can retrieve the boat logs from the wreckage, Pete will be exonerated, and he will aid you later in your quest. However, not helping him leads to an extra boss fight and a loss of a collectible. It’s these types of things that make the game so interesting, offering that “Hm, what if…?” scenario games are so good at providing.

Epic Mickey is an interesting game, not just for its subject matter, but for posing an interesting question: is technical perfection essential to a game’s success, or can good narrative and storytelling be a driving force for a title? Epic Mickey certainly makes a convincing case for the latter: as much as I was annoyed with the technical hiccups, I could not stop playing the game for its narrative. If you are a Disney fan at all, it’s essential that this game be at least tried out. You won’t be disappointed…

…so long as you can see in front of you.


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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