Epic Mickey was a game that didn’t quite live up to its name; “Epic.” It was a game that was full of good ideas and lots of Disney charm, but somehow that all didn’t coalesce into a truly great, “epic” game. Instead, it was a merely decent platformer with some unique mechanics. Well the team over at Junction Point is acutely aware of the previous game’s shortcomings, and its excellent potential. They’re working hard to fix the former in order to help it live up to the latter.
First problem they’ve addressed in the camera. Let’s be honest, it was a bit of a chore in the last game. Well, the goal this time around is to make sure the player never even has to bother with it. While you’ll still have some camera controls to play with, the team wants to make sure you don’t really need them. They’ve completely re-written how the camera follows the action, making sure it’s always in the best spot to give you the best view of what’s happening regardless of whether you’re platforming, exploring, or engaging in combat. Cameras for platformers are always tricky to get right, especially for 3D platformers, so here’s hoping that Junction Point was able to solve this prickly issue.
The other big issue being addressed is persistence. While Mickey’s paint and thinner mechanic was a fun idea with some cool applications, it was rather disheartening to use it in an area to erase something only to come back later and see that everything is just the way it used to be (and therefore have to do everything over again). This time, when you paint something, it’s painted, and when you erase something, it’s gone. This should make for some interesting choices, especially when it comes to collecting things like golden tickets.
One final issue that’s being taken care of this time around is voices; the characters will all have voices this time around. In the last game, there was the very Nintendo-esque quality of having characters speak in some sort of mumblese while text scrolled on the bottom of the screen. That’s all fine and good for a Nintendo game, I suppose, but part of the charm of the Disney characters is their distinct way of speaking. Well in the sequel, all of the actual Disney voices are voicing the many characters in this game. Sweet. As for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Frank Welker (that’s right, Megatron himself) is providing the voice for his very first spoken role.
All of these tweaks and fixes sound great, although they have me wondering if perhaps Epic Mickey 2 will turn out to be “Epic Mickey: The Game It Should Have Been The First Time”. Fortunately, there are some new elements that could help keep it from feeling that way. For one, there’s cooperative play. You and a friend can play through the game, but if you don’t have a friend, Oswald is controlled by A.I. to help you on your quest (which could cause all sorts of new problems, but we’ll see). Another unique elements is music. Musical numbers have long been a classic part of the Disney tradition, and now they’re coming in a video game form. There aren’t many games out there willing to use musical numbers to help tell their story, but if it has that Disney feel to it, it could be a fun and uniquely charming addition to the game. I’m curious as to just how playable (will I have to dance using Kinect in these sections?) these sections will be.
The first game wrapped things up pretty tidily, which in and of itself was a nice change for a video game, but it was also a game that was a Wii exclusive. Coming up with a new story for a sequel and putting it on all the current consoles is a great idea, as it allows what could potentially be a really fun game that’s full of wide Disney appeal to reach a larger audience and to shine in HD. Should the needed fixes to the previous game get made, and should it avoid the “director’s cut” feel of being a game that’s finally living up to its potential without feeling like a true sequel, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two could potentially be the “epic” game it’s always wanted to be. I’d be happy with that.