What We Know: Disney Epic Mickey is poised to tickle the platforming nostalgia-bone inside of every fun-loving gamer. What? That's not an actual body part? Well, it should be. This game takes you deep into Disney's past, where you play as Mickey Mouse trying to track down your estranged brother Oswald the Rabbit to find out why he's mucking around in the history books.
What We're Seeing Now: In Germany, the Disney Epic Mickey team consisting of Warren Spector himself unveiled an entirely new area in the game called "Ticket Booth," which is dilapidated, run-down version of Disneyland. It's basically the Magic Kingdom done Oswald-style, which is drab, dull, and fairly depressing. But fear not, Mickey is there to try and do some good.
Gus the Gremlin is in the area, and you'll encounter him at the ticket booth (very appropriate) after you take out some of the Spatters in the area. Those are the enemies that you can erase with paint thinner, or paint over to turn into your friends. Thinning them is relatively satisfying, but when you turn the paint hose on them to befriend them, little Mickey ears float up from them like heart,s meaning they're in deep with Mickey. That's the route I preferred.
Once you clear out the Spatters and speak to Gus, you'll get a new miniquest, which consists of looking for his wrench. It seems like the rides are malfunctioning in the area, which is no surprise, given that it looks like a maintenance nightmare. Gus absent-mindedly left his wrench over by the Teacups ride, and you have to search through the cups, thinning them out until you find it. Once you give it back to him, you can either continue your pursuit of Oswald, or you can stay and help Gus out.
Given my neurotic obsession with all things Disney, I decided to stick around and help old Gus out. He fixes a nearby Dumbo ride, which you can then climb on platform-style to access some of the higher areas in the level. It seems like the pipes behind the creepy Oswald version of It's A Small World are malfunctioning, so you have to perform some clever navigating to make it back there and fix things. There's a long drop into the Small World "river" if you slip off, and of course that river is full of paint thinner which is very dangerous to Mickey.
They also unveiled four new short film levels that you can jump into, based on:
- Oh What A Knight from 1928
- Alpine Climbers from 1936
- Clock Cleaners from 1937
- Plutopia from 1951
I jumped through Oh What A Knight, which continues that extremely fun transition from a black and white film to a platforming, playable level that we saw with Steamboat Willie. It's still uncanny to basically be inside an archival Disney short, but it sure is fun. But hands-on, my favorite one of these was Plutopia. It's based on a dream that Pluto has in the short, and it's all rendered in a gorgeous, jazzy, neon landscape, complete with giant fire hydrants, bones, and the like. Great fun, even if the level is a bit too short.
The gameplay in Disney Epic Mickey is fairly simple: lots of running, jumping, and deciding whether to thin or paint things in the world, and when you get to those film-based levels, it's just platorming: jumping and avoiding damage. Mickey has a nifty little spin move by shaking the Wiimote when you're in 2D, but the controls are still (thankfully) very easy.
What's really impressive about this title is how deep they've gone into the Disney archives. Most people today haven't seen any of these Disney short films that many of the levels are based on, and it will be a very fun introduction from them. Every time I see this title, I get more excited, and it still has plenty of surprises left in store.