GAME NAME: Epic Mickey 2: The power of two
DEVELOPER(S): Blitz Games, Junction Point
PUBLISHER(S): Disney Interactive, Sony Computer Entertainment
PLATFORM(S): Playstation VITA, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U
RELEASE DATE(S): VITA release: June 19, 2013
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two isn’t a new game, but it has recently been released for the PS Vita, with a huge price cut. We’ve reviewed Epic Mickey 2 when it made its console debut, but since I’ve never played the first game, now’s your chance to read a fresh take on a game re-released on some new hardware.
Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit reunite in an adventure to save Wasteland – a “safe” refuge for forgotten cartoons – from being destroyed by devastating earthquakes. The cause of the earthquakes is unknown and it’s up to Mickey and Oswald to find the cause, stop it and save the day.
Your adventure begins with an opening cinematic that invites you into the wonderful world of Wasteland. The clip itself is animated brilliantly and showcases the cartoon world in a colourful and cheerful manner. Oswald sees first-hand how the earthquakes ravage the land and is not sure how to save it, when out of nowhere, a former villain called The Mad Doctor, comes to everyone’s rescue. He claims to be a changed man and wants to help stop the earthquakes in order to redeem himself. Ready to give him a second chance, Oswald enlists the help of the Mad Doctor and together they set off to find a way to stop the earthquakes. As the two of them set off, Ortensia, Oswald’s girlfriend, suspects deception and seeks help from a former hero: Mickey Mouse.
Mickey is brought back to the world of Wasteland, thanks to Ortensia, and is later reunited with Oswald – who is playable in co-op mode. Together they set forth to uncover the truth behind the earthquakes, assist the people of Wasteland and emerge as the heroes once again.
Upon entering the world of Wasteland, Mickey is armed with a magical paintbrush that can paint in anything that is missing; things such as walls, bridges and various objects, or thin them out with paint thinner. This is a very unique game mechanic as it allows you to look at things with varying perspectives. Even when not painting and thinning, you can see that a lot of love was put into the design of the game. Everything from the buildings to the characters scream Disney, but back to the game. Painting bridges allows you to cross chasms and thinning walls or doors gives you access to new areas, making the game a fairly decent adventure-platformer. Paint and thinner also work against enemies; paint makes them friendly, while thinner erases them.
With the Vita version, you are able to use the touchscreen input as a way of controlling the paintbrush. The main problem with the touchscreen is that you lose accuracy when an enemy is gunning for you. They’re small and agile, and so when you’re using the touchscreen, your hand gets in the way and can block your vision of said adversary, minimizing your accuracy and field of vision.
Where the touchscreen does work well is the use of sketch pads. There are four sketch pads that can be used for different results. For example, the TV sketch pad can be used to distract enemies as you creep past them unnoticed. To use the sketch pad, you need to drag the thumbnail anywhere on the screen and let go. Another touchpad trick at your disposal is the use of guardians. These guys are tiny little fireflies that can be used to stun or move an opponent, by double tapping on the back of the Vita. Unfortunately, you won’t really need them most of the time, making the use of the touchpads underused and a completely wasted opportunity. What you will need most of the time however, is a second player as Oswald’s AI is shockingly bad.
Oswald’s AI is arguably this game’s biggest let down. If you are playing single player, be prepared for a lot of frustration. Oswald can be very unreliable, unresponsive and often needs a nudge to do what is needed – and by that, I mean, hit him with your paintbrush. His AI becomes particularly frustrating when you need him to complete a specific puzzle or perform a certain action during boss battles. Like most Disney game boss battles, the bosses in Epic Mickey 2 may only be harmed after a successful sequence of attacks and a weakness is revealed. Unfortunately, the amount of time you have during the reveal is short and you’ll often need Oswald’s help to succeed. And his failings as a competent partner makes boss battles a little too long and repetitive at times.
While there is a lot of fault regarding the AI and combat mechanics, the game has a lot of charm to it. Disney fans will see a lot of references to previous Disney movies, cartoons and characters. The game also includes two options to completing most challenges, an easy route and tougher one, with the tougher route being more rewarding. The inclusion of these options is a nice nod to many Disney movies that try to teach children a moral lesson, in this case, the easiest route isn’t always the most rewarding.
All in all, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is a fairly average game that doesn’t manage to reach the potential it clearly has. Its biggest let downs are not fully utilising all of the Vita’s capabilities competently or sufficiently, Oswald’s terrible AI, difficult combat mechanics and a mediocre narrative prevent this sequel from being a great game. Diehard Disney fans will find a lot of love in this game and with the price cut, why not add it to your Vita’s library besides.