Epic Mickey has been receiving plenty of buzz from the gaming community, but some of you probably still have some doubts about the quality of a 3rd party Wii game. I'd be lying if I said that even earlier this week that I was counting down the days until Epic Mickey finally hit store shelves and was legally able to come home with me, but after given an extended opportunity to really go in depth with the title I can say that it is pretty damn fun.
Disney Interactive hosted the Disney-fueled get-together and were kind enough to swap regular Nintendo Nunchuck controllers with Epic Mickey themed ones that resembled a paint brush... a paint brush with buttons. The devices were neat but are not necessary for playing the game, so we'd recommend only picking up this add-on if you are a collector or a Mickey Mouse enthusiast. Now we were ready to play and had a list of levels to try out from the menu. I chose the "Ticket Booth" level and my adventure began.
"Ticket Booth" is actually based off of Disney World. There's that awesome Dumbo ride and the Tea Cups, and of course the infamous Small World attraction. It's intriguing that they decided to go and turn a world that most of us are familiar with into a destroyed wasteland that you have the option of helping repair. I took the time to repair the Dumbo ride and Tea Cups, but it's completely optional and what you decide to do will alter how you are perceived by others inside the game's world.
Once the level begins the first batch of enemies come charging in and you have one of two options when they do; you can either spray them with paint and make them allies or you can erase them from the face of the earth using paint thinner. You decision on how you deal with the situation will affect the gameplay. Saving them gives you good points, but killing them is frowned upon. A more intense example of player choice consequences is in another level where you will have the choice of grabbing a treasure chest but doing so causes a pressure plate under it to release, launching a helpless trapped gnome into the stratosphere. Not your usual Disney kids affair.
After playing a few levels I realized that the game is actually surprisingly difficult. Jumping from one area to another meant I often found myself falling down into a pit of acid and into oblivion, and it wasn't the game's fault. Every time I died I had no one to blame but myself, even if the controllers were a little delayed, I could pass it off as not my fault, but they are tight and responsive. Of course the developers just blew through the levels like it wasn't even a problem so that was a confidence booster.
We also play-tested the level "Oh What A Knight" and it's one of the infamous 2D levels that Epic Mickey will allegedly be full of. The level was based off of a classic cartoon of the same name that originally starred Oswald the Rabbit (who some of you will be happy to know plays a pivotal role in Epic Mickey). The level was black and white, almost identical in every way to the old cartoons. I didn't expect Super Mario quality gameplay and for the most part I wasn't mistaken, but Epic Mickey still provides a solid experience with its side-scrolling action. The one issue I would call out is that the levels are short, but it's more of a fun and quick nod to Mickey's past then anything else.
In every 2D level there is a film reel that players can either ignore or go out of their way to obtain, but the one in "Oh What A Knight" took me roughly eight deaths before I could finally acquire it. Other 2D levels I played weren't nearly this challenging, but I'm sure there will be other levels similar to this one that will make you want to throw your paint brush shaped Nunchuck in rage.
One of the best parts I found about Epic Mickey is the sheer amount of collectibles found in the game. Completionists will have a very hard time collecting everything -- Warren Spector even told me that it will require at least three play-throughs if you want to collect everything in the game. Considering that Warren Spector told me Epic Mickey has 26 hours of gameplay in it, there's going to be a lot of time required to complete every part of the game. Now, he also claimed that he collected everything during his first play through, but even then that's not even wii-motely bad for a Wii game. Okay, I'll never try that joke again.
While we are on the topic of "Warren said," I should tell you about the one level that hasn't been seen yet or talked about. Mr. Spector casually mentioned that there was one level he was surprised Disney actually let him put in Epic Mickey. He wouldn't go into details about what the level contained, but he did assure me that when you see it you will say, "Oh Warren. This is it." I'm thinking that maybe we'll see something like a Disney Zombies level (that's the go-to game mode nowadays), but I guess we'll just have to wait a little while longer to find out when it comes exclusively to the Wii.
Of course not all Disney fans own a Wii so I had to pose one more question to fellow Canadian and Senior Programmer Sean Barton. I asked him if we could ever see Epic Mickey on something like the PlayStation 3's Move. He told me that at the moment they just wanted to complete the game and get it out the door, but that if it did well that would be a logical step -- it's in the hands of the higher ups. So at least it's a possibility that PS3 owners will be able to enjoy Disney's latest in the future.
Epic Mickey is a ton of fun and I can't wait until it makes its debut on November 30th for (the time being) Nintendo's Wii.
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