Epic Mickey: The Power of Two PS3 review – There’s a rabbit loose about this house
Stepping into the world of Wasteland in the overly large shoes of the eponymouse himself is a lot like entering the gates of the Magic Kingdom. Although this is Walt’s rejected toy pile, full of all the Disney magic that never quite made the final cut, it’s an enormous universe that’s stuffed to the big ears with Technicolor charm and huge environments to explore.
Epic Mickey: The Power of Two PS3 review
Deus Ex designer Warren Spector has taken his passion for the House Of Mouse and applied it thickly, as if he’s holding the magical paintbrush of Mickey himself and squeaking “Oh, boy!” at the same time. Every bouncy step towards eradicating the evil Blotlings reveals a new reference for fans, be it an alternative version of a beloved character, a sneaky Hidden Mickey – that’s three circles arranged in the shape of His Mouseship’s noggin, for non-Disneyphiles – or a whole set-piece from a cartoon classic.
PlayStation missed out on the rodent’s first paint-spattered adventure, but The Power Of Two wastes no time in filling you in on the backstory. Giving you the power to paint parts of the world into existence – and use thinner to erase the bits you don’t like much – Mickey’s brush is a unique tool, smoothly implemented with a trigger dedicated to each liquid. Whether you’re using Move or DualShock to cover the world in ink, it’s a satisfying mechanic and one that fits snugly into a narrative based firmly in a world that came into being via pen and paper.
While paint-firing handles well as you solve puzzles, other controls sadly feel a little awkward. If you’re using Move, camera controls can become cumbersome as you juggle splashing colour around with finding a comfortable angle. Mickey also has the ability to make items float. Sadly this tool – known as the Fairy Sketch – is frustratingly inaccurate and makes the few puzzles that use it far more painful than they should be. So many of the puzzles are intelligent and imaginative – dipping Mickey in invisible and indelible ink, for example, is fabulous – but the lack of accuracy for such a vital control is disappointing.
This is The Power Of Two, and thus you aren’t alone in your quest. Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, Walt’s previous creation to Mickey, is your co-op partner – and is pretty handy with an electrical remote and boomerang. Yet in order to play as him, you need a friend: it’s impossible to switch between the characters.The Lego games have shifted our expectations with regard to multiple characters, but there’s little more annoying than hearing the quippy rabbit announce “I’m on this” before watching him have all the high-voltage fun.
This is Oswald’s world: Mickey’s just visiting. While drop-in drop-out co-op is amiably smooth and fast, constantly having to wear the mouse ears becomes painful around the chin. Oswald’s AI is good, and crossing gaping chasms by jumping and holding on to his legs looks charming but isn’t without risk as you occasionally miss and launch yourself into the abyss.
Spector was adamant that this wouldn’t just be a simple 3D platformer, and the elements of choice are a pleasant surprise. Upgrades can be bought with in-game currency, there are plenty of side-missions to complete, and puzzles can be completed in a variety of ways. Not everything in the world can be erased or rebuilt, but you are able to dissolve or tame enemies depending on your mood. (Naturally, every kid ever will opt for ‘dissolve’.)
Given that choice is meant to be taken into account, the game oddly rewards the destruction of your foes with collectibles, while befriended enemies just wander away happily neutered by paint. Pin badges are earned for good behaviour, but morality sails out the window as you hoover up the instant gratification of loot. Wasteland is directly affected by your actions, letting you fix areas as you progress, or just leave it in pieces. Not that you would, right?
There’s a wealth of Haribo-sweet content to experience here. While brightly coloured 3D exploration makes up the majority of the gameplay, charming side-scrolling is present in a series of mini-levels based around the early 20th-century Silly Symphonies shorts. Fiendish platforming also awaits in the warm-hued depths of Wasteland. Like a Disneyfied LittleBigPlanet, underground routes are filled with stacked books, enormous figures and mouse paraphernalia. They’re visually impressive, but without the solidity of LBP’s platforming they can be tiresome as physics go slightly awry.
Despite the odd frustration, Epic Mickey 2 is a brave platformer. It’s intelligent, full of humour and, in typical Disney style, the cut-scenes are musical. Like the theme parks, environments are rich, and characters are OTT and full of enthusiasm. It’s an enjoyable journey through the past century of Disney, and despite the pitfalls there are some beautifully created levels and moments of pure magic. Plus, where else can you unlock a door by bringing together Snow White and her Prince for true love’s kiss?