Disney Epic Mickey Wii Review

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo

Publisher – Disney Interactive Studios – Developer – Junction Point Studios – Genre – Action Adventure – Players – 1 – Age Rating – U – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

Mickey Mouse is still easily the most recognizable character that Disney has come up with, but outside of merchandising, Disneyland and such, he’s also scarcely used by the company these days and hasn’t starred in a cartoon for years. He’s certainly not as relevant as he once was and, because of this, he hasn’t had a starring role in a videogame in a long time either. Disney Epic Mickey has changed that situation, though it’s certainly not your typical Mickey Mouse game.

Epic Mickey is not the familiar bright and breezy take on the character – colours are largely at the darker end of the spectrum and the story actually has quite an emotional side. It sees Mickey transported to Wasteland, a world filled with forgotten cartoon creations, not least of which is its ruler the disgruntled Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a character that predated the famous mouse and was Disney’s first mascot, he hasn’t been used in 70 years or so, which makes him a perfect fit for this particular yarn.

Wasteland is well imagined and much of its image is down to Oswald himself, which gives you an idea of how jealous he has become at Mickey taking his spot as an animation superstar. One area sees you traversing a mountain of Mickey merchandise, given the insulting name of Mickey Junk Mountain, you can easily tell that Oswald isn’t a keen collector of Mickey related things. Another area is inspired by Disneyland, but is a grim take on it, where everything is miserable and broken down.

Even if much of the rest of the game isn't to some Mickey fans tastes, sections like this will be a pleasure to them.

Loading times are cleverly largely masked, by brief, traditional style platforming interludes. In what is sure to be more than a welcome touch for Mickey devotees, most of these are based on some of Mickey’s cartoons. The likes of Steamboat Willy and Fantasia are featured, with all the appropriate obstacles to contend with. Whilst they’re bite-sized in their nature, backtracking and incessantly playing the same section does still begin to grow tedious on occasion.

As Mickey, you’re able to use paint and thinner, to influence the environment and your enemies. Paint can be used to add some colour to the bleak surroundings, or to paint in objects and befriend enemies, whilst thinner is used to erase things, such as the hinges of a locked door or a troublesome enemy.

The Paint and thinner mechanics rarely reach their full potential, though. There’s an undeniable messy fun in spattering the environment with liquids, though you’re only able to paint or erase certain things, whilst there’s rarely any complexity when it comes to their use and it’s nearly always plain to see where the solution lies.

With the involvement of Warren Spector, it’s hardly a surprise that the game has some sort of morality compass in place, though obviously this isn’t to say that you can transform Mickey into a murderous mouse. In Epic Mickey you can be good or slightly mischievous and this is largely determined by how you go about using the paint and thinner liquids, so using paint is seen as a good thing, whilst liberal use of thinner is frowned upon by the denizens of Wasteland. It’s somewhat out of place for a Mickey Mouse game, but then again as is much of the rest of the game.

Epic Mickey is quest based and these consist of the usual fetch quests, item recovery and such, so there’s not really much imagination on display. Most quests are brief and lacking in complexity, though there’s plenty to do for those that want it. In a nice touch, if you rescue gremlins , often hidden around each area, they’ll return the favour in various ways, for instance solving a big puzzle within seconds.

Epic Mickey is one of the Wii's best looking games.

The platforming and combat on the other hand are similarly simple to the quests. The jumping is responsive, though a bit floaty and not on the same level as Mario, whilst fighting has you spraying enemies with one of your liquids and there’s a decent selection of enemies introduced throughout.

Whilst everything is at the very least adequate, the camera can be problematic, sometimes losing Mickey altogether and in turn being responsible for some unfair and infuriating deaths. In my experience, however, it didn’t occur enough to have a real bearing on the game, but when it does misbehave, it’s easily one of the worst cameras in years.

With its darkness and emotion Disney Epic Mickey is hardly what you’d call an authentic Mickey Mouse videogame and some fans will have an issue with this grim take on the iconic mouse. It’s an accomplished game with a world that’s a delight to explore and play about with, but whilst there are glimmers of greatness from time to time, it’s not quite the incredible game that such an icon deserves.