@Koi-Neon-X: Well, hopefully it will so others can enjoy it too. :) @just4yoshi: It is interesting. ;) @JustPlainLucas: The game's definitely not for everyone. If someone can't get past the sort of stuff I listed at the top, that person is probably not going to enjoy the game as much. I really didn't care about it, myself. @MogFromLeipzig: Yeah, it's actually completely the opposite from Kingdom Hearts, in that the main Disney characters are the most unknown (sans Mickey, of course), rather than the most known. Also, the main character is a Disney character, unlike Kingdom Hearts, where it's some random guy. :P
It's no secret that I don't post very much or post many reviews. In the new year, I'd like to change both of those a little. As such, I've decided to write reviews on a fairly regular basis, since they don't really take as much effort as other articles I write, and post them here, in the hopes of keeping myself inspired to keep them going. Just having them sit down at the bottom of my user page, read by hardly anyone, doesn't exactly make me feel it's worthwhile.
This may also be only the first of further regular features to boost the level of activity on my blog... but no comment on that at this time.
Anyway, without further ado...
A flawed love letter from Disney that is sufficiently brilliant that its shortcomings don't matter much.
Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: there is plenty not to like in Epic Mickey. Its camera is almost entirely manual, and takes a while to get used to. The combat can be pretty awkward sometimes. The side-scrolling scenes between sections get quite monotonous as the game goes on. Its cutscenes really need voice acting. The ending isn't as affected as it should be by the moral choices you make during the game. For all of those reasons, one can quite quite easily not like this game very much.
None of that mattered to me at all.
In fact, Epic Mickey is perhaps the single most definitive example of a game that is far more than the sum of its parts.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves, and get back to basics before we dwell on that point any longer. Epic Mickey stars - surprise, surprise - Mickey Mouse as its main protagonist, the first game in seven years to do so, and the first game in a long, long time to do so in a respectful fashion. The prologue depicts Mickey traveling through a magic mirror to the abode of Yen Sid, the wizard from Fantasia, who is putting together his "project": a home for forgotten Disney characters, where they can live out their days together and in peace. Mickey finds him just as he is leaving the room, and wastes no time to jump up in a curious fashion. Examining, the magic paintbrush that Yen Sid had been using, he tries his hand at creating something, but it quickly gets out of hand, and in his haste to use paint thinner to undo what he had created, he ends up destroying Yen Sid's "project", leaving it a broken shell of what it had been before.
Before Yen Sid comes back, he escapes back through the mirror to his house, slowly coming to forget what had happened as time goes on. One day, however, Mickey is awoken to a rather frightening sight: a giant mass of ink has come to his house through the mirror and drags him back to Yen Sid's studio, and then into the world which he had destroyed many years ago. Now stuck in this wasteland that was once a welcoming home for forgotten characters, he must make his way through it with his accompanying partner Gus the Gremlin, helping the citizens dwelling therein if he wants, and find his way back home. Along the way, he must also confront The Shadow Blot - the malevolent mass of ink that Mickey accidentally created when in Yen Sid's studio the first time, which has since become the feared villain of the Wasteland - and come face-to-face with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the brother he once had who faded into obscurity as Mickey rose to take his place.
Although Mickey is ostensibly the star of the story, it's his long lost brother Oswald who really steals the show (to whom Disney even had to re-acquire the rights before Epic Mickey could get the green light). In the Wasteland, he once fancied himself king of the land much as Mickey is often taken to be the ruler of his domain (as in Kingdom Hearts), and by all accounts was not a bad ruler at all - just a bit, well, egocentric, as is evidenced by the massive stained glass image of him, or by the statue of Walt Disney in the middle of a fountain holding his hand, rather than Mickey's.
Throughout his initial encounters with Mickey, Oswald expresses a rather pointed resentment towards Mickey - it's *he*, he stresses, who should have been the star of it all, not Mickey. He views Mickey as something of a usurper, one who stole all of Oswald's glory for himself. Mickey is, of course, rather surprised by this - he had no intention of doing so. At the same time, however, Mickey comes to the rather uncomfortable realization that he's stolen from Oswald not once, but thrice - the second being his theft of Oswald's home when he destroyed Yen Sid's project, and the third being the theft of Oswald's beloved when she fell at the hands of The Shadow Blot, a creature for whose existence Mickey is directly responsible.
The chemistry between Mickey and Oswald is by far the best part of Epic Mickey, and it's worth playing through the game just to see it. Oswald begins as a selfish, haughty, spiteful rabbit, and to watch him slowly change as his life begins to become intertwined with and touched by Mickey is a real emotional treat. While Mickey's interactions with the other characters in the world certainly aren't bad by any stretch, they nonetheless pale in comparison to the growing bond between Mickey and Oswald.
Speaking of Mickey's interactions with the world, another highlight in this game is its highly innovative morality system. Most games that offer the player choice do so as a simple... well... choice. As in, "Kick the puppy? Y/N". The system in Epic Mickey is far more integrated than that, and is baked right into game through Mickey's two forms of ammunition for his weapon: paint and thinner. Paint creates; thinner destroys. That's about the extent of it, and this pervades the entire game. For example, painting a wall will fill it in, while thinning it will remove it. Painting an enemy will cause them to become friend, while thinning it will wipe it from existence. Solving a puzzle through paint will create something constructive, while solving a puzzle through thinner will destroy something. In addition, the "paint" solution to almost anything in the game tends to more complicated than the "thinner" solution - but one is rewarded for having accomplished it through the satisfaction of having brought something into the world, rather than destroying something in the world.
While the main plot offers a lot of content for the player, one would really miss out on a lot in the game if one ignored the rest of the game. There are a ton of side quests, and while a lot of them do certainly bear a rather strong resemblance to fetch quests - "Go over here and get item X, then bring it to position Y" - they nonetheless were quite enjoyable to me, if only for the fact that it allowed me as a player to be immersed even deeper into the world of the forgotten characters in Epic Mickey.
Every aspect of this game, in fact, is really from start to finish an absolute labor of love that pays exquisite attention to detail and stays exceptionally faithful to the world of Disney. Everything is here, even right down to parts of the Disney realm that many didn't even know existed. (I won't spoil what those are; I will only say that I had to look them up when I found them, and found a new appreciation for the loving handiwork that went into the game every time I did.) Mickey travels between realms in film projectors, in which the player is treated to a side-scrolling adventure through very, very old Disney flicks. A scene in the game involves an entire mountain of old, beaten up Mickey memorabilia. One could easily blaze through the game if one wanted to, but then one would miss the entire joy of going through the game, a big part of which is to say hello to and to acquaint oneself to Disney as it once was, and - if recent developments are to be believed - Disney as it hopes to become once again.
You may notice that it's taken me all the way to this point in the review to mention the gameplay. That's not an accident. The gameplay in this game is, in my opinion, secondary to all of the above. I've seen people criticize it for not being like Super Mario Galaxy, or for not being like Donkey Kong Country Returns. I feel that such criticism is misguided, and is expecting this game to be something it isn't. This game was never meant to be the next great platformer, and shouldn't be evaluated under the expectation that that's the way it'll be. That's not to say that its gameplay doesn't matter at *all*. If this game's controls were broken to the point of rendering the game unplayable, then obviously that would be no good. I'm happy to report that they most certainly are not. They aren't the tightest, most streamlined controls ever seen, but they're passable, and really, for a game like this, I feel that that's enough. This isn't a game to be *played* so much as it's a game to be *experienced*.
The art direction in the game is also top-notch. The visuals are excellent, and faithfully reproduce all the places that people once knew and loved from Disney games in their twisted Wasteland glory. The music is also quite inspired in many places, particularly the boss music that includes "It's a Small World" played backwards. In addition for its emotional impact, Epic Mickey is also certainly a treat for the senses, as well.
All in all, Epic Mickey overcomes its shortcomings to become one of the best games on the Wii, and a stirring comeback for Mickey after having slowly lost his way. The game is especially not to be missed by longtime Disney fans, for whom the game is overflowing with love. It's a satisfying game through and through, and it left me with a strong, solid smile once I finished it.
Oswald the lucky Rabbit? That's really a forgotten character^^ It would be boring if they put in the same characters as in Kingdom Hearts. (They got boring in KH itself...) Thank you for the great review! I hope Disney can manage to go back to old glory.
I'm currently playing this, and I'm having a love/hate relationship. I really want to enjoy the game, as the art direction is some of the best I've ever seen in a platformer, but god dammit do the technical issues get in the way! Every time I finally get in the zone of really having fun, something will pop up that will make me curse. Plus, the monotony of the fetch quests, find this and destroy that, thin everything out to find stuff, etc., is really affecting the pacing. I'm definitely not going to give the game a 9.0 like you did, but I might end up giving it a half point or so higher than GS.
Hey GabuEx!:) I haven't read your review (yet) but I've heard nothing but good things about this game and If I owned a Nintendo Wii "Disney's Epic Mickey" would definitely be in my collection! I don't know if this game will ever make it to the PS3 or XBOX 360 but I never thought "BioShock" or "Mass Effect 2" would ever see the light of day on another console so.....
@Yagr_Zero The camera in Epic Mickey is pretty much all the way on the other side of things: rather than moving when you don't want it to, it doesn't move when you do, on account of the fact that it requires pretty much manual operation. It kinda makes sense as a design decision when you think about it, though - how does the camera know whether you want to jump or to paint? It can't, so it just lets you operate it since you know what you're wanting to do.
The camera looks like it could be annoying, but it's not as bad as the earlier Sonic Adventure/Heroes games. The camera there kept changing views way too often resulting in many an unnecessary deaths. It didn't look like that in Epic Mickey.
@kbaily Yeah, I pretty much completely agree with that assessment of it. @stanhigareda Hard? I didn't really find it that hard, myself... well, certain parts I suppose were kind of frustrating, but those were minor and over fairly quickly. @TechnologoDoom Yeah, that's more or less exactly what I meant by that, only in a much more understandable form. :P @31160618 Well buy one then, man! :o Right now! @s_h_a_d_o Cool, let me know if you end up liking it. :) @BessenStock Thanks! @AjaxNeron As above, let me know if you end up liking it. :) @Bozanimal You need to dust off your Wii to insert a game disc into it? :o You must have one of those crazy Wiis I've heard about that don't collect dust when someone is playing a game in them. :P Let me know if you like it. @Yagr_Zero Yeah, the camera definitely takes some getting used to, but it's nowhere near the broken mess that some people have painted it as.
I remember watching quite a lot of videos of people playing it on youtube and it didn't look half bad. Sure the camera looked awkward in the videos, but I was interested in seeing what "forgotten" Disney stuff made it in. Great review write up.
Cool. I was a tad disheartened by other reviews of this, having been anticipating it's release for a while. The concept, premise and supposed execution seemed enticing, especially to one, like myself, for whom the historical evolution of the Disney worlds and characters is an inextricable part of childhood. Nice to hear the game has sufficient redeeming features to make it a worthwhile experience. Your review has swayed me, and I shall definitely make a point of visiting this particular part of the Magic Kingdom. Thanks.
"This isn't a game to be *played* so much as it's a game to be *experienced*." Fair enough. I often find that numerous *great* games get downgraded far too much for minor control issues or bugs, things that are inconveniences but aren't a problem. And as a part of that, most review sites tend to focus too much on gameplay these days, and ignoring other ways in which players approach their games. As if Mario were just as good as it's platforming...
This is interesting considering that many (and I really mean MANY) people that I know hate this game because it is hard. Reading your review makes me wonder about the game (If I had a wii, maybe)
I really enjoyed this game too. This is a good example of good game storytelling. You don't need 20 hours of cutscenes to make an engaging story and I like Oswald's character and it's enough to overlook some technical issues like the wonky camera.
@shalashaska88 That would definitely be possible now that we have the Move... but, sadly, I probably wouldn't hold my breath on that. @Sandpiper121PP Yeah, the camera is definitely the sticking point for most people from what I've seen. I thought Warren Spector made a pretty darn good point, though, when he noted that his game contains both platformer and shooter aspects, that those two types of games demand much different camera types, and that a camera over which the player must exert manual control is really the only type that works in all cases. I didn't find it too bad, either; like you, I just found it had a learning curve associated with it. @Foolz3h I do too, actually. Oswald has a lot of character.
Personally I loved the game for the most part. The camera made it tough at times... but I didn't really feel it was hard... but thought of it more as a learning curve. I loved some of the boss battles... and the story overall was excellent. Where I am very happy to have played it once... that will probably be the only time I do... but it has happy memories for me! Great Review! :)