The last time I remember playing as Mickey in a video game was a long time ago when I played a couple of the Super Nintendo titles. This was over a decade ago, and I’d say that these games did the iconic mouse justice with solid gameplay and fun. So, where has Mickey been for all these years? Since the early 90’s, and outside of a few racing games and mediocre GameCube titles, Mickey Mouse never again saw that same star treatment a character as big as he deserves. One begins to wonder, ‘ has Mickey faded away?’ Has he officially stepped away from the gaming scene, and begun focusing primarily on cashing in as the merchandise selling symbol he has become? The answer is ‘no.’
In 2010, Warren Spector and the Junction Point team came together, and they have brought Mickey back into the spotlight. With an overwhelming amount of commercials, posters, billboards, characters and even the word ‘epic’ in its title, the game had everything going for it leading up to its release. Disney Epic Mickey has finally arrived, and now the question is ‘does it live up to the giant expectations that has been set up for it?’ That answer is ‘not exactly.’
The story presented in Disney Epic Mickey starts off with Mickey accidentally ruining a world that becomes known as Wasteland. Wasteland itself is a distorted take at how the real-life Disney World would look if you take away all the joy, colors and happiness from the beautiful park. Mickey not only creates this world, but has been brought into this world. Through his journey to escape from this world he doesn’t belong to, Mickey begins to right all the wrong he has created.
When playing as Mickey, you make choices that result in different consequences in your playthrough of the game. You also have the choice of using paint or thinner. Using paint will help build your surroundings and make allies of your enemies. Thinner, on the other hand, will bring the complete opposite of paint to whatever touches it. It’s all about being constructive or destructive, and how you play the game will bring various outcomes. Some of the choices presented are blatantly obvious, but others are a bit more subtle. It’s a feature that will surely have players considering multiple replays of the game. The game also goes from 3D environments to 2D platforming segments. These segments are great homages to the classic Mickey games, as well as serving to get your nostalgic juices flowing if you’ve ever played them when you were younger.
Disney Epic Mickey opens up with a fantastic opening scene, including voice-over and full CG sequences to introduce players to what they should be prepared for, but that’s pretty much where the ‘epic’ ends. The rest of the game is tied together with 2D art sequences with text and mumbling to tell the story. Although, the 2D art sequences are very beautiful and nice to look at, it is too bad players have to read throughout. I don’t mind reading, but it certainly takes away from the supposed epic experience. I wanted to be immersed into the world introduced in Disney Epic Mickey, but reading inevitably brings that disconnect; at least for this gamer.
My biggest gripe I have with the game is that everything feels dated. It is already unfortunate that the game looks extremely dated due to the actual amount of graphical power the Wii possesses, and the fact that the team at Junction Point didn’t exactly push the system to its limits. However, you throw in the fact that there are sloppy controls and camera angles, and what you’re left with here is a game that would have been lost in the shuffle of plenty of other titles if it wasn’t for the Mickey name. The basic fundamentals miss more than they hit, and this leads to a game that just ends up falling apart. There is nothing here that is generally pleasing on the technical side of things. Add to that the reading aspect, and you can now understand where I am coming from when I say that the game simply feels dated.
What Disney Epic Mickey does have going for it is a cast of memorable characters and an amazing soundtrack to boot. The characters are not just thrown in because of popularity, but their inclusion is actually smart and makes sense. These characters in Disney Epic Mickey are those that have actually been lost in the massive history of Disney. Their irrelevance in our world translates into the game very well, and brings that extra layer of depth to the significance of bringing restoration back to Wasteland and the characters who inhabit it.
The music is one of the game’s biggest highlights. You get some very Disney music, and that should make sense to anyone who has seen a Disney animated film before. You hear music that ranges from classic themes redone to new emotionally-striking tunes. I’m a true believer in the power of great music in games, and if there is anything that keeps you engaged in Disney Epic Mickey, its music is it.
In the end, Disney Epic Mickey disappoints more than it delivers. Looking past the hype surrounding the game before its release, it’s still very hard to walk away not feeling let down. No matter how good the actually is, the constant presence of technical issues becomes too hard to look past. These issues are always there, and the luster of a truly inspired game swiftly goes away.
- Title: Disney Epic Mickey
- Platform Reviewed: Wii
- Developer: Junction Point Studios
- Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
- Release Date: Available Now
- MSRP: $49.99
- Review Copy Info: A copy of the title was was provided to DualShockers Inc, by the publisher for purposes of this review.