Disneyland has the slogan, "The happiest place on earth," but you won't find much joy in Mickey's adventure through this Magic Kingdom. This evocative trip through Disney's hallowed history offers clever twists to the characters and imagery that have become ingrained in the popular consciousness, but these artistic touches are not enough to salvage the rest of the dour experience. A number of fundamental design flaws derail this colorful adventure before it ever has a chance to get going. Sloppy controls and a woeful camera continually stand in the way of your progress, but it's the preponderance of dull objectives that smothers any whiff of enjoyment. It just isn't fun to play Epic Mickey; even though the thoughtful story and imaginative visuals do their best to urge you along, it's not worth trudging through the uninspired and frustrating set pieces to get there. Epic Mickey uses nostalgia to suck you into this world, but its reliance on antiquated gameplay makes it a difficult game to endure.
6284630The power of paint compels you.None
Mickey has made a terrible mistake. Among all of the characters that have been created in Disney's illustrious history, a few of them have fallen to irrelevance along the way. These forgotten critters have retired to The Wasteland--a retirement home of sorts where characters from yesteryear exist far away from the outside world. But that darned mouse couldn't leave well enough alone. He spilled ink into this world one fateful day, drowning its citizens in a sea of black that ruined their peaceful existence. This is not a happy story, and the characters you meet along the way embody their decades of neglect in striking ways. It is this story that provides the strongest reason to experience Epic Mickey because it not only circumvents what you would expect from a Disney product, but it also provides heartfelt moments. The visuals suffer from low-resolution textures, but the artistic touches are certainly there. From the shabbily constructed Ventureland where sad pirates live out their existences to the neon bright Tomorrow Land, each area has its own personality.
It's just a shame that the gameplay in this 3D platformer doesn't do justice to this insightful look at Disney's history. You run and jump in a sluggish manner, so even though you eventually get where you want to go, there is no joy to the movement. The one element in Mickey's repertoire that separates Epic Mickey from other games in the genre is a magic paintbrush that has the power to create or destroy specific objects. This is a neat idea and does lead to a number of interesting situations. For instance, you can remove a piece of a mountain to find hidden treasure inside or paint a bridge to cross a dangerous lake. But even though this feature is used well at times, there isn't nearly enough freedom in how you use it. You can only interact with specific objects, and it's not always clear what you can and cannot spray. More troubling is the lack of permanence. Every time you exit and reenter an area, all of your hard work is erased, so even if you paint every object into existence, it disappears as soon as you leave the screen. Furthermore, your aiming cursor isn't always accurate, which means you have to line up your shot multiple times before the ink hits the right spot. Thus, this cool concept loses its impact as soon as you realize its limitations.
A gorilla boxing a robot: now that's entertainment.
Unfortunately, Mickey's magic paintbrush is the only gameplay element that is even marginally unique. The rest of the game is a retread of countless games that have come before it. Your objectives are particularly stale. In each location you visit, there are characters you talk to who give you tasks to complete. But these boil down to tired fetch quests that are incredibly dull and time consuming. For instance, to help a pirate find true love, you have to travel from Ventureland and Ozland to the Mean Streets and then back to Ozland before you finally return to Ventureland where you complete your quest. While you dutifully walk from place to place, there aren't any fun jumping sequences or interesting battles, either; you just walk until you find the correct item and then return. And that's how much of Epic Mickey plays out. Its lifeless experience is further hampered by the bland 2D platforming levels between each section. The first time you play one of these stages, it's a treat because it looks like an old Disney cartoon. But the level design and controls are so stuck in the past and the collision detection is so poor that they aren't any fun to play, and once you slog through the same level a half-dozen times, you'll wish you could skip these portions entirely.