- Developer - Junction Point Studios
- Publisher - Disney Interactive
- PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [tested], Wii, Wii U, Mac, Microsoft Windows
- Release date - 23 November (30 November, Wii U version)
- Price as Reviewed: £29.99
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
It's easy to look at Epic Mickey 2 and decide it's a great game for kids. It's colourful, it's easy to learn; it's Disney. But there's more to it than that. With its focus on creation and choice, Epic Mickey 2 is a great entry-level game for anyone, regardless of age.
Its lustrous colour palette is instantly ingratiating, and once it sucks you in, Epic Mickey 2 teaches you just how smart games can be.
You play Mickey Mouse, who's recruited to put Wasteland - a colourful cartoon world populated with Disney characters - back together after it's struck by an earthquake. Using a magical paintbrush, you can shoot paint at destroyed or damaged structures to refill them with colour.
You can also shoot paint thinner, which destroys obstacles.
Paint and thinner are used for simple puzzles, like having to colour in a section of electric cable to power a generator. They can also be used to tackle enemies, to varying effects. Thinner will zap bad guys and kill them, but paint, if sprayed liberally, turns the goombahs into good guys who won't attack you.
Epic Mickey 2 sets a great precedent for kids, or first-time gamers, using the paint/thinner mechanic to show that games can be about creation as well as destruction, and that killing isn't always the way.
It's typical of Warren Spector, the game's director, whose previous work has often centred on choice; Epic Mickey 2's paint or thinner dichotomy is akin to Deus Ex, which offers players a choice between a tranquiliser gun and a sniper rifle.
It has a kind of Portal vibe, too, especially when played with someone else. Additional players can control Mickey's pal Oswald, who can hover across gaps, stretch his arms to reach objects and use a remote control to zap things with electricity.
A lot of Epic Mickey's puzzles require some basic co-operation - if a gap is too big for Mickey to jump over, he can grab onto Oswald to glide across.
Again, it's a great model to set to children. Epic Mickey 2 is by no means some boring education tool, but it encourages players to think while they play and work together.
It's really cool - Epic Mickey 2 isn't a patronising "down with the kids" style teacher; it really cares about its audience. Any parent will tell you that children know if they're being talked down to, so Epic Mickey 2 never does that.
Some of the puzzles are genuinely tricky and the small portions of Wasteland that you can explore take some getting to know, often requiring you to find secret areas and hidden sidequests before you can move on.
Epic Mickey 2 gives you just enough nudges to get you in the right direction, but holds enough back to keep you thinking, and experimenting of ways to work together. The Portal comparison is an apt one - Oswald and Mickey have a funny Atlas and P-Body dynamic. But where Portal is very much for gaming veterans, Epic Mickey is a superb entry point.
And it looks and sounds great. The Disney/Mickey Mouse aesthetic isn't just there for mass appeal - there's been real care and attention put into making Epic Mickey 2 really feel like a Disney movie. The Mad Doctor is the standout character, spontaneously bursting into song to explain his schemes.
There are also cameos from Donald Duck and Goofy, and a few nods to other Mickey Mouse films; barely ten minutes go by before you're joined by walking brooms to the tune of Fantasia.
The only real sticking points in Epic Mickey 2 are the camera, and the controls, which both feel sluggish and unresponsive. Mickey and Oswald move quite slowly and both have big, awkward turn circles. It takes a long time to move the reticule around, too, and although that may be intentional to help steady your brush as you aim it, it slows Mickey's quick, platforming gameplay.
Those are just niggles, and Epic Mickey 2 still has a good feel. There's a definite Sonic and Tails appeal with Mickey and Oswald, but Epic Mickey most closely resembles the old Spyro the Dragon games on PS1.
The small Wasteland hubs that you can potter about in are reminiscent of the Artisan's Homeworld, where you quickly chat with characters, scoop up collectables and breathe in the beautiful, colourful backdrops. It doesn't sound like enormous praise, but Epic Mickey 2 is just kind of nice.
It's fun to play, pretty to look at and really clever, subtly teaching you not to kill and blow things up.
It's such a cool game; among a Christmas line-up of muscular, blockbuster shooters, Epic Mickey 2 is much more hip, letting you experience its non-violent gameplay at whatever pace you like.
It's just lovely - it's really sweet - and as a starting point for first-time gamers, regardless of age, Epic Mickey 2 is a great example of how mindlessly killing and destroying is not all computer games are about.
- Gameplay: 8/10 - The paint/thinner mechanic is very smart and subtle. The camera and movement are a bit sticky
- Graphics: 9/10 - Epic Mickey 2 is a great looking game, full of cartoonish charm
- Sound: 8/10 - Wonderful voice acting and dialogue, especially from the Mad Doctor
- Replay value: 7/10 - There's plenty of life in Epic Mickey 2's co-op gameplay, but the puzzles really only work the first time
- Overall: 8/10 - Clever, colourful and just kind of lovely, Epic Mickey 2 is a fantastic starting point for children and first time gamers. For cranky veterans, it's a breath of fresh air.