Epic Mickey is the closest Disney has come in well over ten years to matching the quality of action platforming they mastered on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo consoles. There was a time where a new Disney game was an event. Their side-scrolling platforms starring Mickey and Donald through original worlds completely removed from the Disney oeuvre were fun, challenging, and well-made. Then they lost their footing. The games were either targeted at only the youngest gamers or poorly-produced money grabs based off of a new franchise.
With Epic Mickey, the action takes place in a looking glass version of Disneyland. The rides are all there; they’re just broke down, faded, and in desperate need of repair. You play as Mickey, forcibly dragged into this alternate reality after accidentally unleashing an evil ink monster bent on destroying everything Disney. You solve puzzles and fight with a paint brush that can shoot two substances. With the wiimote, you control paint to rebuild broken paths and convert the ink monsters to good. With the nunchuck, you control paint thinner to tear walls apart and erase the ink monsters.
The good/evil dynamic between creation/elimination is the game’s biggest strength. Every puzzle has at least two solutions and rewards you in favor of your choice of weapon. Using paint thinner gives you green sprites that fight for you; paint, blue. The decisions you make against other characters really alter the game’s story. If you choose to side with one character in a conflict, you might find out that the other character was the actual victim. If you go for a piece of treasure, you might accidentally punish a character who can make your life easier later on. It’s a delicate balance to play the game how you want. Harder still is the realization that you have to use paint and thinner or you’ll never complete the game.
There is a major issue with the game. The camera is horrible. You’re constantly fighting against it, either pressing the “c” button to center it behind you or using the D-Pad to manually move the camera. The camera placement also forces Mickey to turn at unfortunate times so you can’t reach something with the brush. You have to do a lot of platform jumping in confined areas and it’s almost impossible to get it right on the first try because you can’t see where you’re going.
The actual gameplay and concept of Epic Mickey is so strong that the poor camera angles don’t ruin the game. They, sadly, put a haze on its shine and stop it just short of being a great game experience.
Thoughts? Love to hear them.