The moment you see the high quality CG opening cinematic, replete with heaps of character and Disney charm, you know you are in for a treat, grabbing the player from the very start. Mickey walks through a mirror into a different world, plays around with a wizard’s creation and manages to make a mess of it all, even managing to make a nasty looking monster in the process. Plagued with worry due to his mistake, Mickey returns back to his world and, for many years, we see how famous Mickey became, with a montage of Mickey Mouse images erupting on-screen. It isn’t until many in-game years later that we see the return of the monster, who grabs Mickey through the mirror and pulls him down into the wizard’s creation, now known as Wasteland.
It’s here in Wasteland you discover a bleak and darker tone to the game and meet the forgotten characters and concepts never used in cartoons by Walt Disney. This will likely be fabulous for Disney fans - but also great for anyone, of course. Players get to see the return of Walt Disney’s original famous character for the first time since the 1920s, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
It is up to Mickey to help those in Wasteland from the infestation of the Blots that have invaded just about every area within world, gaining trust from Oswald and other sidelined characters. Armed with his magical paintbrush, you’ll need to help and solve quests for a number of different characters to progress through to the next area. Quests range from simple activities, like delivering items to characters, to ones that span out throughout the entire game. Some may find the idea of continuously doing errands for a variety of different characters to be repetitive and it is, to a certain degree, but overall the mix of long and short quests and the inclusion of cut scenes in-between, keeps things interesting.
To complete quests you’ll also have to travel to various areas through projector screens. Once through a projector screen you’re thrown into 2D platforming sections, which are based on old Mickey Mouse and Oswald cartoons. These are mainly simple to get though and provide a nice break-up in the gameplay. They also host some items, which you can collect. These items can also be collected within the 3D sections of the game to unlock a ton of extra content, including concept art and even a Mickey Mouse and an Oswald cartoon. There’s also money to collect which can be used to buy items within the game.
Pair the quests with the creative nature of the gameplay though and it all becomes very enjoyable. Using Mickey’s paintbrush, you have the ability to erase environments and enemies away with thinner. You can also use paint, which makes the environmental elements reappear, as well as turning enemies friendly. Where this gets interesting is how you use these powers and how this can affect elements of the story and its outcome. It repeatedly makes you think about how you want to tackle certain areas of the game. Being a friendly Mickey will earn you trust and happier outcomes, whilst using thinner may lead to bad consequences. The use of thinner and paint is used within puzzle elements too, and thinner can be used to find hidden chests and items behind or inside the environments.
It’s while using Mickey’s paintbrush powers that unfortunate camera problems can occasionally crop up, though. You may want to aim your paint somewhere high, but the camera isn’t panned down enough. This can be adjusted by simply using the D-pad to move the camera to a suitable position, or you can also point the Wii Remote pointer near the screen edge and it will automatically move the camera upwards. You also have the choice of going into a first person view, where you can still shoot paint and aim more precisely.
These problems unfortunately also carry over to platform styled sections, as well. The camera will sometimes move into a position where your view will be obstructed or into a place where you don’t want it to move to. There is a button to centre the camera behind Mickey, which does help on most of the occasions, but sometimes this fails to work, unless you manoeuvre Mickey into a different position to suit the player. Or again, you can use the D-pad to manually adjust the camera. The camera issue is a flaw, but it generally works well, and it’s easy enough to look past it, because the superb quality of the rest of the game outweighs the negatives.
This quality is carried through into the presentation, with visuals that have a unique and surreal look to them. Detailed environments are cluttered with old Mickey Mouse and Oswald memorabilia, from lush forests to a ghost-infested mansion. Character models look perfect and the animation is spot-on and full of charm. It can also be said these are some of the best visuals you’ll see on the Wii, and what makes this even more impressive is that there are only minuscule amounts of slow down. Another stand out feature are the cutscenes, which come in three forms: one has a gorgeous classic cartoon art style, another uses in-game visuals, and lastly there are the CGI clips. In addition to this, Epic Mickey boasts an excellent soundtrack, composed by James Dooley and performed by an orchestra arrangement. Old style music, with distortion and blurred effects, play on 2D stages and it fits them perfectly.
Epic Mickey is bursting with content, and can last up to 15 - 20 hours. If you want to collect everything, it will push the play time up even more, and if you want to discover the various outcomes of the narrative, then you’ll need to play through multiple times - which is something you won’t mind doing if you enjoyed it.