Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two Review

By Matt Keil - Posted Nov 19, 2012

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two continues the dark and compelling story of forgotten toon inhabitants begun in the original Epic Mickey. A new threat looms over Wasteland, and the famous mouse must return to set things right with the help of his new ally Oswald.

The Pros
  • Brilliant art design finally in HD
  • Top notch presentation and voice acting
  • Oswald's abilities allow for more varied and complex puzzle design
  • Much-improved camera
  • Tons of stuff to do
The Cons
  • Oswald's AI can be frustrating in time-critical situations

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two Review:

Nobody knew quite what to make of Disney Epic Mickey when its strange and unusual concept art first hit the internet years ago. Upon release, Junction Point’s compelling exploration of lost and forgotten cartoon characters inhabiting a dark reflection of Disneyland called Wasteland suddenly being rediscovered by the most famous cartoon character of all time was one of our favorite games of 2010. Thankfully, Disney saw fit to greenlight a sequel, this time on all console platforms, and Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two continues what will hopefully be a long series of fresh takes on familiar material.

 

 

Musical Therapy

The Mad Doctor, a villain from the first game, has returned to Wasteland. He has had an apparent change of heart and a newfound tendency to turn everything into a musical number, which Oswald and his friends amusingly find very strange. Oswald believes the doctor deserves a second chance, which is a major theme throughout the game, and possibly a self-referential one. Still, something is rotten in Wasteland, and so Oswald’s friends summon Mickey to save the day with his Magic Paintbrush. This time he teams up with Oswald rather than competing with him, and the rabbit becomes an integral part of the gameplay.

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As before, Mickey’s paintbrush can paint in “toon” objects to create platforms, befriend enemies, and create mostly beneficial or constructive effects. It can also fire streams of thinner, which dissolves said objects and generally causes destruction if you’re not careful. Also like the first game, which type of magic substance you use more often will impact the world around Mickey and how characters see him. Unlike the first game, many of your decisions are irreversible. Thin a building to the point that non-toon parts of it collapse, and that’s it – that building will be damaged for the rest of your game. Some may find this restrictive, but I found it added a nice layer of depth to the paint/thinner balancing act, and caused me to think about the results of thinner-oriented actions before just dissolving everything in sight to get to a treasure chest.

Oswald’s abilities are not morally significant, but they do change the way the game is played. His remote control can electrify things, stun enemies and operate control panels. He can also fly short distances with his helicopter ears, and even give Mickey a ride across gaps. A constant presence throughout the game, Oswald can be controlled by a second player at any time thanks to drop-in/drop-out split-screen play. The co-op does not support online play, but Epic Mickey 2 somehow feels like it should be a side-by-side experience. Each character plays uniquely enough that both players contribute in different ways to the puzzle solving and platform traversing.

Epic Mickey 2

Power of Two, Irritation of One

Oswald sticks around when you play solo, and that’s when problems arise. Because of the tandem nature of the level design and puzzles, Mickey and Oswald must work together frequently to surmount obstacles, defeat enemies and make progress. When you don’t have a buddy handy you have to rely on the AI-controlled Oswald to help you out, and this can be a risky proposition in some circumstances. You can call him over and give him close-range commands to activate his propeller ears or open an electrically-controlled object, but there will be times when you’d really like Oswald to activate that switch that’s only accessible due to the pressure plate you’re standing on while dodging incoming thinner attacks, but he’s too busy shocking offscreen enemies or staring at a wall.

Epic Mickey 2

The squirrely camera of the first game has been heavily overhauled, and requires very little babysitting or adjustment. Using an analog stick to aim Mickey’s paint is obviously a much more reliable control solution than a Wiimote, and it’s a joy to navigate Wasteland without worrying about Mickey’s positioning versus where the camera wants to point independently of your in-game actions. The welcome addition of a “hold the button to leave areas” feature also prevents accidental entering of shops and unneeded load times.

The main story is a bit on the short side, but tons of sidequests and optional tasks await Mickey and Oswald, and there is no lack of things to do. There are outfits for both heroes to collect, photos to take of hidden Mickey and Oswald heads all over the game’s levels, multiple paths and bonus items to gather in the classic cartoon inspired 2D levels, the ever addictive pin trading, and even some post-credits intrigue to investigate. The multiple solutions to many of the game’s puzzles and quests adds a strong element of replay value on top of all that.

Epic Mickey 2

Visual Justice

One of the few downsides of the first game was that Junction Point's brilliant reimaginings of classic Disney properties were not in HD, because the game was a Wii exclusive and thus trapped in standard definition limbo. Epic Mickey 2 is multiplatform, which means Wasteland is finally available in HD on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U, and it is a true treat for Disney fans. Homages and references are packed into every frame of the game, and some truly obscure pieces of Disneyana (yes, that’s a real term) await discovery. You know they’re digging deep when there’s a prominent enemy based on The Black Hole.

Epic Mickey 2 once again pays heartfelt tribute to animation history, and does it with style and sincerity. As with the original game, anyone who loves Disney, Mickey Mouse, or just animation history in general will find something to enjoy here, and the fact that the game is a superb platformer and co-op title is icing on the cake. Here's hoping for many more adventures in Wasteland courtesy of Junction Point Studios.