“Epic Mickey” is a gorgeous looking game with a fun story and iconic characters. Unfortunately the great art design is marred by awful camera controls and frustrating combat.
“Epic Mickey” follows Mickey mouse as he travels to another world through a mirror, finds a model of the Wasteland (a home for all the forgotten Disney characters) and a magic paintbrush. In classic Mickey fashion he begins to play with the paintbrush and accidentally spills paint thinner on the Wasteland and creates the Phantom Blot. Eventually Mickey is tracked down by the Phantom Blot and pulled into the Wasteland where he must try to rectify his mistakes.
The game is a 3D action platformer with a twist. Mickey Mouse has the ability to spray blue paint or green thinner on characters, enemies, and the environment. Paint restores erased sections of the environments and turns enemies into allies and thinner erases parts of the world and destroys enemies. The paint and thinner are used to solve puzzles, find secrets, combat enemies, and offers different choices of how to complete the game.
There are also transition levels in the form of projection screens that Mickey must travel through in order to reach new areas of the Wasteland. These “projector levels” are based upon classic Disney films and cartoons and are 2D platforming levels. The platforming mechanics allow for Mickey to perform a standard jump, long jump, double jump, and a spin attack that can damage objects and stun enemies. When everything is taken together “Epic Mickey” offers a ton of variety for its 15+ hours of gameplay.
The Wonderful World of Twisted Disney
The Wasteland is an incredibly rich, diverse, and wonderful space to explore. Each location feels like a twisted take on classic cheery Disney locations. From creepy white eyes that open and close in the background of jungles to a Tron-like futuristic Tomorrow Land the art direction in “Epic Mickey” is among the best I have ever seen. The music is also exquisitely composed and arranged. Classic Disney tunes are changed just enough to sound a little “off” and wonderful original orchestral music is heard throughout the game. Even without HD graphics and sound “Epic Mickey” is one of the best looking and sounding games I have played in recent years. Some have complained that all the dialogue is delivered through text. However, text based dialogue works because most of the characters in the Wasteland are from the silent era of Disney cartoons.
Combating the Camera
In theory, controlling Mickey Mouse is easy and fun. Control issues arise because of the terrible in-game camera. “Epic Mickey” could have been one of the top games on the Wii if the camera worked. The unfortunate camera leads to blind jumps, awkward angles, difficulty in judging depth/range, and can altogether ruin parts of the game. When everything works and the camera is positioned at an angle that allows for accurate jumps and accurate paint/thinner aiming then the game plays well and is a lot of fun. However for every moment that works there are at least two moments where the camera makes the game incredibly frustrating.
Connected to the camera issues is the combat. Fighting multiple enemies in “Epic Mickey” is a test of patience and composure. Without any lock-on system combating multiple enemies is always frustrating and rarely ever fun. This is a major disappointment because using paint to make an enemy fight for you is an intriguing idea that can raise moral dilemmas during gameplay. Choosing whether to redeem an enemy with paint or destroy an enemy with thinner gives the combat an added depth. However the terrible camera often led me to continually use the easier method of spraying enemies with thinner to destroy them. In other words, the choice based gameplay is drastically hurt due to terrible camera controls.