Monday, February 21, 2011

Disney Epic Mickey

Disney Epic Mickey, video game for the Nintendo Wii console. Rated: E (everyone), Cartoon Violence. 2010 Disney Interactive Studios, Junction Point. $49.99

The core of this game has you as Mickey Mouse who must journey through a dark, twisted land that is an amalgamation of Disney theme parks and Mickey’s animated shorts on a quest to restore that land to it’s non-dark, non-twisted state. In Mickey’s arsenal are paint which crates/restores things and thinner which erases things. The proper land is much like a mirror of familiar places, the home of forgotten stories and characters with Oswald the lucky rabbit, one of Walt’s original, pre-Mickey creations, as it’s hometown hero in place of the Mickey of our world. As such, Mickey’s Toontown, for example, is called Oztown.

For a Disney fan, the art direction and design is a hoot, as you pick out elements inspired by the parks or some of the dozen or so best of Mickey’s filmed appearances. Through the game, Mickey has the opportunity to save a number of Gremlins who can in turn do things to help Mickey’s progress. The Gremlins as characters from a few World War II era Disney shorts, have little prior association with Mickey, but for the purposes of the game are magical beings that can be endlessly reproduced and re-named.

Game play consists of a lot of standard video game running and jumping in the 3-D world as Mickey solves puzzles, takes on missions and collects E-tickets, the currency of the land, and other items. Midway through, however, all of this action gets a little repetitive, and the missions that Mickey takes on upon the request of other characters pile up and aren’t easy to keep track of. 2D game play is introduced as Mickey jumps into movie screen as portals between different provinces, but a few of these become tedious when Mickey has to traverse them forth and back repeatedly.

The story structure does have the appearance of being somewhat flexible and affected by the choices that Mickey makes, the most basic being two: 1) the use of either paint of thinner producing different results; and 2) of whom Mickey chooses to help or not which plays out as gaining friends or foes. It may be interesting, although doubtfully very rewarding, to play the game a second time making “bad” choices.

As a Mickey game, players should not expect to encounter non-shorts characters to pop up - and with the inclusion of the wizard Yensid from the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a rare few do. But fans may be disappointed to only see animatronic versions of Donald, Goofy and other characters.

Even with all the lesser aspects mentioned, which in the end are minor annoyances, in all, it’s very playable and just challenging enough that after dying and returning to a save point a number of times, you learn to try different strategies and are usually rewarded by going on to the next mission.

Rating: (7/10) D D D D D D D - - -

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