…half-assed because I didn’t finish the game, and probably never will, which kind of shocks me. As a fan of all things RPG and Disney, the combination of the two usually equals instant obsession and a loss of several months for me (Kingdom Hearts…. ahh, now that was a good summer).
It’s not that I hated Epic Mickey, per se. There’s a whole lot to like about it.
The story is awesome, and would appeal to Disney fans of any age. Years ago, Mickey accidentally and unknowingly unleashed a horrible evil called the Shadow Blot on a world built for forgotten Disney characters (which looks like a mini-Disneyland). After being kidnapped and brought into that world, now known as Wasteland, he has to clean up his mess and win over the characters he alienated. Fans of old Disney cartoons will delight in appearances by vintage Disney characters like Horace Horsecollar and Peg Leg Pete, and fans of modern Disney works get to learn a little something about it’s history through all of the bonus materials and cartoons the game supplies as Easter eggs.
The controller. It’s the first game I’ve seen on the Wii that uses the controller in an appealing way (sorry, Wii bowling, your time has passed), though like all Wii games it helps to play on a bigger TV.
The art and the setting are the best part though – a dark, corrupted version of Disneyland with an art deco design reminiscent of the artist SHAG who’s been doing some cool Disney prints lately (no idea if he was involved, but check out his Haunted Mansion stuff here) As a Disneyland annual passholder, I go to the park more often than is probably socially acceptable, so it was a thrill to get to the outside of “It’s A Small World” and recognize the whole area.
That’s where the fun stops, though. Now for…
First, there’s the notorious “Goofy camera” as one friend called it. Often it feels like Goofy is following Mickey around with a video camera, standing in all the wrong places, getting distracted easily. If you’ve ever been to Disneyland, you’ve seen Goofy’s car crashed into the mailbox outside his house. If he can’t even park his car properly, you do NOT want him giving you directions while you try to jump across a ravine full of deadly paint thinner. This brings us to…
The super-sucky jumping mechanics. Because of the terrible angles, often you’ll go to jump across a gap that seems relatively easy, only to have the camera swing around and let you know that nope, it’s an impossible Grand Canyon. On top of that is the frustration that stems from not being able to jump on things if you’re too close to them. Out of paint? Bad guy chasing you down? Just jump onto this safe ledge. Oh, sorry, you didn’t realize you had to back up a few steps? Try again. Which leads to…
The inability to save. So I’m a wussy gamer. I really really am. I like games like Fallout 3 where I can save every damn second out of sheer paranoia, or Final Fantasy where there’s a clear save point every few steps. I get pissed off when I spend 15 minutes climbing a wall only to fall to my death and then have to do it all over again – many many times in a row (see the Goofy Cam and Stupid Jumping above).
A lack of direction. Much as I love puzzles, some of the areas (I’m looking at you, goblin city!) look very very similar wherever you turn, and it’s very easy to get lost. It would have been great to have a more informative mini-map always on screen (instead of having to go through a few Wii menus to get to the very undeveloped, unhelpful map). There were also spaces that felt endless. I know the “It’s a Small World” ride takes forever to get to when you’re in the theme park, but there’s no reason to keep us in there for that long in the game. Especially not without a mind-numbingly catchy song to sing.
But you want to know the biggest reason I’ll never finish Epic Mickey?
My roommate who owned the Wii moved out.
Really, it’s the fault of Nintendo as much as Epic Mickey that I will never finish the game. Even the relatively cheap price tag of around $200 for the system isn’t enough to tempt me to buy one – why spend $200 to just play one frustrating game?
Disney created a gorgeous, fascinating game, and really blew an opportunity to make it great. As much fun as the Wii controller was, the game would have been much more successful if developed for multiple platforms. I would totally have put up with some of the flaws above if the game had been available on the PS3, and not having to worry about waving a paintbrush around might have made those jumping and camera mechanics a bit more bearable.