Everyone who grew up watching Disney’s cartoons has a warm place in their heart for Mickey Mouse and his buddies, and their unique visual style. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two succeeds in reviving that love of cartoons with the help of a wacky sense of humor and a classic sense of adventure – it’s a game for your child, even if it’s your inner one. The second game sees Mickey’s return to the land of forgotten cartoons (The Wasteland) that stands before a new and terrifying threat. Together with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, our hero will travel all across the Wasteland, seeking the help of an expected ally.
Mickey’s journey begins at his home, where he gets an urgent message from the Wasteland, calling him to come and help out. After a series of events, involving a magic hat and some brooms carrying buckets of water (sounds familiar?), Mickey regains ownership of the magical brush he used to defeat the evil scientist in the first game. With it Mickey can paint the world around him to bring it to life, or erase it out of existence using paint thinner. Passing a sort of tutorial along the way, Mickey finally arrives at the Wasteland and meets up with his friends: Oswald, Ortensia (Oswald’s girlfriend) and Gus, Oswald’s gremlin assistant.
Epic Mickey 2’s mechanics are almost identical to that of the previous game, and is rather simple. Mickey wanders around the Wasteland and uses paint to reveal more of the world or befriend enemies, or thinner to defeat enemies or remove obstacles. By his side, Oswald is armed with a remote control that allows him to control electronics and machinery or stun enemies. Together, Mickey and Oswald learn more and more about the mysterious earthquakes that plague the Wasteland and about the horrible threat that looms above it.
There are two aspects of Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two that are worth expending on. Just from the title it’s easy to see that the game is made to be played in pairs. You can play by yourself, but the A.I. that controls Oswald isn’t the most clever or cooperative, so you won’t always get it to do what you want. However if you play with a human partner everything goes so much better, and restoring peace and harmony to the Wasteland becomes a pleasant, rather than tedious, endeavor. The second thing is the integration of the Move controller in the PS3 version. It’s a nice idea that lets you feel as if you’re actually using the magic brush yourself (great for younger players), but that’s about it. Controlling anything else in the game immediately becomes cumbersome and clumsy, from the camera to Mickey’s jumping and running. It’s really fun to imagine the Move controller to be a magical brush, but it’s really uncomfortable to play with.
So using the regular controller is preferable, and playing with someone is much more fun than going alone – but who can this someone be? Epic Mickey 2 is full of childish wonder that may not appeal to serious gamers, but the parents among you might want to consider playing the game with your kid. It’s a great opportunity to spend some quality time together in a wacky and funny world, and helps instill a fondness for the lovable and classic cartoons.
The Wasteland is full of hidden secrets and locations, and apart from the main story mission (you know, to save everybody) there is plenty of other stuff to do. Some of the side-missions are directly connected to the story. Let’s say Mickey needs to collect 50 steel plates to repair some broken down machinery; it just so happens that a store nearby offers steel plates as a reward for a simple mission. Epic Mickey 2 is full of such “coincidences”, other side-missions that are there just for fun, or hidden puzzles that can only be solved cooperatively.
Epic Mickey: The Power of Two isn’t just a family-friendly adventure that will make you nostalgic for a simpler time; it is also a musical. You read correctly– a musical. Characters will burst into song without warning throughout the entire game just to deliver a crucial piece of information, whether it’s the mad scientist or any other of the many amusing individuals you meet along the way. The funny singing bits fit in well with the overall sound of the game. The background music is playfully appropriate, and Mickey and Oswald’s cartoony noises work together with the brush’s almost magical sound to create the required sense of whimsy.
The game’s graphics are somewhat plain, without any distinctive features. All environments have that “forgotten wasteland” vibe with some extra color thrown in the mix, but don’t offer anything that truly stands out visually. What does pop out is the reoccurring theme of “Mickey and Oswald”, or at least stuff that look like them: clouds in the sky or the shape of a billboard, for example. The game encourages you to find these objects and even provides you with a camera to take pictures of them, rewarding you with something special for each photo.
In the end, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is a likable game for the whole family, especially ones with young kids and gamer parents. It’s a good chance to spend some time with the kids or nieces and nephews, or just reminisce on Disney’s classic cartoons and characters, listen to some funny music and have a good time. A 3D platformer with some nice tricks, that gets its power from two things: its settings and its atmosphere.
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