The first Epic Mickey game was full of potential, but an overabundance of bugs and glitches just kept it back from achieving its potential. There were high hopes then that this second bite at the cherry would create a whimsical 3D platforming adventure that the House of Mouse could really be proud of. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.
The innovation of the first game has been replaced by a cloud of confusion and frustration, with even the simplest of tasks often leaving you pulling your hair out. There’s charm here, as you’d expect from a game with the Disney stamp of approval. But it’s drowned below a sea of poorly thought out set pieces, forgettable characters, and a story that fails to make you care about anything for more than a couple of seconds.
The game picks up just after the original finishes, and if you don’t know the plot of that game you’re going to be left scratching your head for long stretches of this one. The basic story revolves around Mickey teaming up with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to try and save the Wasteland from another threat; hence ‘The Power of Two’.
Mickey has his paintbrush once more, which he can use to either paint in or thin out sections of the world. The uses for your brush are always tightly controlled – sometimes it’s necessary for progression, other times you’ll be required to create or destroy simply to fill your cash and paint reserves.
Major decisions involving whether you use paint or thinner are supposed to change the world around you, forcing you down one path or another, but it’s such a poorly explained mechanic that it’s hard to really quantify the effect it’s having.
Oswald has a remote control that he can use to send pulses of electricity into contraptions to bring them back to life, as well as create a field of shimmering energy around himself and Mickey to protect them from attack.
A second player can jump in at any time and take over the role of Oswald, and it comes as a blessed relief from the slightly confused AI. The ability to switch characters on the fly would be a real boon, but it’s an seemingly obvious feature made conspicuous by its absence.
The camera angles and control issues that marred the original are still in place too, stealing the flow from your movement and leaving you battling against the game, rather than working in tandem with it.
The story flops along at a confusing pace too, rarely letting you get a handle on what you’re supposed to be doing, where you’re going, or whether or not it’s a good idea. NPCs will shout the same phrase at you over and over again until you manage to complete the task they’ve set you, which adds to the overwhelming feeling of annoyance that permeates the game.
It’s a shame, because yet again there is potential here, and moments when that potential shines through. But most of the time it gets lost underneath poorly implemented and badly explained features.
In a world where games like LittleBigPlanet exist, there just isn’t room for sub-standard platformers, and that’s exactly what Epic Mickey 2 is. It’s an unfinished job, and for a license as big as Mickey Mouse, that just isn’t good enough.
By Harry Slater
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U
Developer: Blitz Games Studios