With the release of Epic Mickey for the Wii this week, Disney fans will have the opportunity to once again enter the world populated by Mickey and his motley crew. However, everything's not as colorful and jolly as the Disney that we've all grown to love. This is the world of Disney as seen through the filter of legendary game designer Warren Spector and developer Junction Point Studios. It's a darker, more sinister Disney universe, filled with long-forgotten Disney characters and ethical choices to make.
Sure, it's been getting mixed reviews, but never before has a Disney game been so creatively ambitious and modernized--morality choices, cameos dozens of classic Disney characters, and non-linear gameplay flesh out what can possibly be one of the greatest Disney games recently made.
However, is this game worth your time and money? Disney fans cover a pretty wide age range, so is Epic Mickey targeted toward children, or older core gamers? Though Epic Mickey provides a great experience, there are a number of issues with the game that prevent it from being the flawless masterpiece it tries to be.
+ It's a must-have for fans of the Disney universe
Epic Mickey is clearly Warren Spector's love letter to Disney, and his passion for Disney shows in the game. The amount of detail Junction Point Studios put into the characters and levels based on Walt's older cartoons is amazing, and it creates a very immersive experience that makes each world "feel" unique and true to the source material.
Disneyland fans are in for a treat as well! Many of the theme park's most recognizable locations make an appearance in the game, but in a new, twisted way. Even the famous bronze statue of Walt Disney himself is there.
+ The game looks VERY, VERY GOOD
Epic Mickey is one of the best looking games on the Wii, and makes great use of the system's technology.
The atmosphere of the game and the attention to detail are amazing. Wii owners will wish more games had production values as high as this.
It has brilliant art direction and music, on par with the great Disney games of the 8-bit and 16-bit era.
+ There's something for everybody
Despite it being a licensed game, this isn't just for kids. Like Disney movies, Epic Mickey is intended everyone; whether you're a gamer or not, male, female, young or old.
Older core gamers can appreciate the game for its maturity, depth, and its amount of replay value.
+ The morality choices in the game create a story-rich adventure
The ethical choices that you make in the game (similar to the Fable series) ultimately affect the landscape and story of Epic Mickey.
The core gameplay mechanic of Epic Mickey is the choice to create or destroy using paint or paint thinner, respectively. In almost every mission, the choices that you make will have a positive or negative impact on the world and its inhabitants. Make evil, selfish choices and Mickey's appearance will change, and he'll look like he's melting away. Heroic and selfless choices will result with the guy looking like a heroic knight.
+ It's a great platformer
Epic Mickey is a great platformer at its core. When the camera actually works (read CONS section below), the platforming is top-notch. The paint spraying mechanic works perfectly with the Wii remote, just point and shoot. Fans of Super Mario Sunshine will be pleased. This clearly is a game designed to take full advantage of what makes the Wii unique.
+ Great value--there's plenty to do in this game
Epic Mickey is a deep, lengthy game with plenty of secrets to uncover. There is plenty of content to keep you busy for quite some time.
- Annoying camera!
As a platformer, it's extremely important to have a functional camera. Unfortunately, the camera is typically uncooperative most of time, making the platforming sequences a nightmare. The camera would often get "stuck" on walls, resulting in a a confusing mess when there's a lot of action going on.
- The ethical choices don't have much of an emotional impact
It's true, many of the choices that you make in Epic Mickey will have an impact on the game world and its inhabitants. However, these choices don't hold much of an emotional resonance. So you've just destroyed Clarabelle Cow's garden, and the only thing that will make you feel guilty about your actions is a few words? Each character is given such a limited amount of time in the spotlight, that it's hard to feel like you're making an impact on these characters.
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- The missions quickly become mundane
Many of the side missions in Epic Mickey feel tacked on in order to extend the length of Mickey's adventure, and they can become a bit repetitive. Challenges that simply involve shooting a certain number of objects can become mind numbing over time.
Despite the minor flaws of of the game, Epic Mickey is an exceptional game that fans of Disney and animation should experience. The game's mechanical issues can easily be forgiven, for the amount of depth, charm, and high production values clearly overshadow them. It's a shame that there aren't more Wii titles that are as ambitious as Epic Mickey.