Posted by J. Bradshaw on Jun 13, 2012

Epic Mickey 2 – E3 2012 Hands On Preview

Few things get children and adults more excited than Mickey Mouse and videogames.  Epic Mickey combined both those ideas a few years ago, and now they are back again in Epic Mickey 2.

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two takes place exactly where the first game left. Mickey has returned home, but without his magic paintbrush. However, it is revealed that the Wasteland is once again in peril, and it is up to to him to fix it.  Luckily this time around he has Oswald to help him, as these two characters are now friends instead of rivals.  Mickey is able to find the paintbrush and together with Oswald, they will travel through 80 years of forgotten Disney characters and memorabilia to restore Wasteland.

With Oswald present, there is naturally a co-op element in play.  For example, to reach high ledges, Oswlad can use his long ears as a helicopter, or he can throw you. Oswald can also command electricity through a remote control.  There are a variety of co-op elements, especially during battle. Best of all, Epic Mickey 2 has drop in/drop out coop, meaning that you will never have to quit during the game and use a menu to add new players.

Of course, the main focus of the Epic Micky series is using your paintbrush and thinner to get from place to place, solve puzzles and battle enemies.  This is a very interesting mechanic.  One the one hand, you can use the brush to “paint in” some things, like a hidden rock, to get over a gap. Or you can use the thinner to reveal hidden areas, like a secret room in Mickey’s house.  In most cases, the game offers you the choice to decide whether you’d like to use the paint or thinner, but either one will usually get you to where you need to go.  However, in some cases, you have to choose whether to “thin out” the world, or “rebuild” it and there is only one option, with different results depending on your choice.

In addition, the 2D platforming elements return, forming a bridge between each level of gameplay. Plus, the game is fully voiced and the music will affect the gameplay quite a bit, as Warren Spector states: “We wanted to take the opportunity to have some songs to further the plot, tell the story, and talk about what people are feeling and stuff. There are going to be several moments where people break into song.”

Graphically, this game is really colorful and bright. I loved the enemy variety, and just the general art direction of the game. In the demo I played, I fought a gigantic dragon that was really neat looking and had a ton of detail. Animations are smooth and fluid; they really add to the experience of the game.

Gameplay-wise, I found the game to be quite fun, although there were some elements lacking.  For example, the aiming reticule seemed to always be wandering around and I had a tough time seeing where I was shooting.  In addition, some of the platforming felt wonky and loose.  For example, when jumping around, I often thought I would hit a ledge just right, only to find myself falling instead.  That said, these controls are much better than the ones from the previous game, and although they still feel a tad unresponsive, I think the rest of the gameplay will more than make up for this small quibble.

I died quite a lot during my playthrough, which I blame on the reticule problem mentioned above. However, I am excited to play through the game when it launches, and I bet there is an option setting that will allow me to adjust how fast the paintbrush moves.  I enjoyed watching the world come to life through my paintbrush, and battling lots of awesome enemies is always fun, especially when you get to use a paintbrush to do so.   Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two launches on November 18 for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.

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