Epic Mickey 2 Hands-On Preview
Mickey has a new partner in crime.
I’m in London this week to check out Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, and after our press reveal a short hour ago, I’m standing in front of an Xbox 360 build of the game to see just what the world’s most love mouse is up to in his latest adventure.
While Epic Mickey 2 is a continuation of the Wii original, this version will now be expanded to include the Xbox360 and PS3, along with souped-up graphics for each console. I hit the start button and gawk at the introduction cinematic – it’s a colorful and Disney-approved hit number, complete with singing. Yes, singing cinematics – this is a Disney game after all. After the great introduction I find myself in Yen Sid’s workshop, the ‘tutorial’ level of the game which shows me the basic controls and allows me to experiment with such magnificent feats such as double-jumping. I’m then re-united with the magical paintbrush from the first game, which can shoot out streams of paint or thinner to dynamically change the game’s environments.
A hop through a portal and I’m in another demo level, but I’m paired up with the adorable Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald makes more of a statement in this game rather than being a mindless companion. In fact, Disney thought it best to give the little guy a remote control so he can harness the power of electricity in the game. Surely no harm can come from giving a slightly deranged rabbit that kind of power?
The duo works well, as crazy as it may sound. Mickey and Oswald work as a team whether controlled by players or the AI. The advantage of having two players controlling the two is that you’re able to toss the other player to higher areas to reveal hidden bonuses, something which you can’t do when you’re playing with the AI. Combining Mickey’s paint brush abilities with Oswald’s maniacal love for kilowatts provides some worthwhile entertainment, not to mention some nifty abilities.
But is this just another run of the mill platformer with the occasional puzzle that barely scratches the surface of your imagination? Thankfully, it’s not. The game has a few aces of its own that guarantees a fun experience for any age group. For one thing, the puzzles here aren’t as simple as they make out to be. In one demo level where I had to find and recharge three generators, I had to ask one of the Disney guys to come over and help me out as I just couldn’t seem to find the damn things. In the end I had to ‘paint’ one of the buildings to restore it and then jump onto a newly created platform to drag the generator down. It may sound like a simple puzzle, but the crafty way in which most of the puzzles have been setup will post at least some kind of a challenge to gamers.
The other thing that the game is proudly stating is its use of ‘persistence’ – often at times in the game you will need to make choices, and these choices stick with you for a good part of the game and often change the course of future events. Yes, it’s a mechanic as old as Walt Disney himself, but it’s something that Warren Spector is passionate about. He wants gamers to feel the consequences of their actions – not necessarily in a morbid way, but at least in a way that they feel that what they’re doing in the game has a lasting effect on how things play out in the end.
While the game doesn’t have any online playability (Warren elaborates on this in our interview with him), the local co-op does really shine through the game. You’re often tempted to bring out your competitive streak and zap at your friend of just go the opposite way to frustrate the crap out of them. Of course it’s all part of the Disney magic, which is given a huge boost this time around with the introduction of a full voice cast. Characters sound exactly like they’re supposed to, and the talented Frank Welker provides a stellar voice for Oswald.
If this early tech demo is any reflection of what’s in store, then gamers are certainly in for a great time with Epic Mickey 2. It’s clear that the studio is taking no chances this time around and has paid a lot of attention to community feedback based on the first game. We’ll keep our ears posted for future updates on Epic Mickey 2, but in the meantime stay tuned for our interview with Warren Spector, who dishes a bit more about Epic Mickey 2.