As great fun as Disney Epic Mickey was on the Wii, the game did have a few issues. Granted, the innovative gameplay that allowed players to paint in or remove chunks of the game world meant the Wii was doing some spectacular calculations behind the scenes, but the game camera suffered in too many areas. That and the game could have used a bit more in the way of actual voices for its cast, especially as it captured a wide range of Disney history that demanded to be heard as well as seen. Yes, James Dooley’s fantastic score carried the aural experience to new heights, but something was still missing. For the sequel, I’m happy to report that not only are PS3 and Xbox 360 owners going to get in on the fun, those camera and sound problems are gone and Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two should be on your list of games to dive into when it hits retail in mid-November. I finally got to play the E3 demo of the PS3 version at a Disney event here in NYC and as good as the first game was on the Wii, the new camera system absolutely sings using the Move and /Navigation Controller setup.
As in the first Epic Mickey, the element of choice comes into play via the player’s use of Paint and Thinner, with Paint being used to create or restore objects and Thinner used to destroy or change them. The demo showed off how both could be used in “good’ ways in terms of uncovering secret areas or hidden treasure chests, and there was one key moment where using one or the other decided how the boss battle would play out. I played through the first game three times, taking different paths through each time, and it looks as if the sequel will get just as much or even more play time, as the game is looking to be even bigger than the original.
While original developer Junction Point is ably handling the Wii version,veteran developer Blitz Games is tackling the PS3 and 360 versions.Visually, these two versions of the game adds HD resolution and improved shadows and detail in the cartoon-like 3D characters and environments. On the audio front, the fully voiced characters and dynamic score should make any Disney fan a happy camper. While I didn’t get to experience any of the new musical numbers from the game, I have complete confidence that they’re going to be true to the Disney legacy and are going to be making us all laugh and smile at the right moments. I’d imagine we’ll be seeing some sort of soundtrack CD in the game’s collector’s edition, as I can’t see all those songs just staying inside the game only to be heard during gameplay.
While you can use the standard Dual Shock 3 (or Xbox 360 controller, if you’re getting that version), the game controls flawlessly using the Move. Gamers who use the peripheral frequently will be able to hop in and get through the fun tutorial with ease, but novices shouldn’t take more than a few minutes (or to the end of the tutorial) to see how intuitive the motion controls are. The camera works so well, that even when I tried to get a bad angle, it was more focused on making sure I was headed where I needed to be. This time out, the game has a split-screen co-op mode with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit as your fellow traveler, but as an AI controlled character in single player, he’s no brainless drone at all. He’ll grab pickups, distract or fight enemies and he’s got a few cool moves that can help Mickey out in a jam.
The demo was broken up into a tutorial, brief side-scrolling level and an intense but amusing boss fight against a mechanical parade version of Elliot (the kooky-looking dragon from Pete’s Dragon). I first watched the demo being played then got to try it out in co-op just to see the difference a second player and split-screen format would make. In the side-scrolling stage, Oswald appeared on the opposite side of the map and he and Mickey needed to meet up somewhere in the middle, tackle a quick puzzle that required both characters to operate before moving onward. Co-op is drop in/drop-out, and Oswald’s talents are more action-oriented so you don’t need to worry about needing two Move setups at all.I’d actually recommend playing the game in as many control configurations as possible just to see how they mesh, but I’ll save that for the review down the road once I have the chance to do so.
Teamwork was key to taking down Elliot, as he was big, immersed in a pool of lava and had the pesky tendency to bash away parts of the circular platform Oswald and Mickey were running around on attempting to put him out of commission. In solo play, Oswald went after Elliot’s minions (those annoying blot creatures from the first game) while Mickey took on the dragon by painting in tainted portions and then transforming the blots operating the mechanical beast one by one when they popped out of assorted openings in the robot. There was a bit of fun dodging Elliot’s double buzz saw tail, followed by a quick bit of deft platforming up some broken steps to the final part of the battle. In co-op, it was a bit trickier with two screens, but dividing the dragon’s attention and taking the same Paint route as before did a good job at making sure he was down for the count again.
So, the good news here is that Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two looks fantastic and absolutely works on the PS3 using the Move or standard controller. The bad news is you can’t play the game at all until November 18. Well, it’s not so bad news, as time marches on and the months are zipping by too quickly for my tastes, so maybe that cancels out any negatives there. Get set to get your mouse and rabbit on soon enough (and I say start bugging Disney Interactive to get Oswald his own game at some point)…