Mickey Mouse is probably the most iconic cartoon character to ever be created. As the flagship for Disney it was to no surprise that Mickey eventually appeared on current-gen consoles with Epic Mickey, and the subsequent Epic Mickey 2. Now, a few months after its original release, Epic Mickey 2 has bridged the gap to the PS Vita.
The console versions of the game didn’t receive that much praise, with review scores failing to reach that of the first game. The Vita version, with added touch screen features, sets its goal to amend the flaws encountered on consoles.
In typical Disney fashion the world of Epic Mickey 2 is wonderful. It’s charming, vibrant and bundling with enthusiastic characters, which we all know and love. The cutscenes are joyous, and often musical, and have that unique Disney feel to them.
Wasteland has fallen victim to a series of earthquakes leaving the land in peril. The villain of the previous game, The Mad Doctor, returns to Wasteland pledging to help repair the damage after realising his wrongs of the past.[drop2]Oswald reluctantly accepts his offer of aid, only for the earthquakes to strike again leaving him no choice but to call on Mickey for help once again. With suspicions being raised at the Mad Doctor’s real motives and his involvement behind the earthquakes, both Oswald and Mickey set out to get to the bottom of the mystery.
The story is, of course, quite childish but an enjoyable adventure from start to finish is guaranteed. The various cutscenes are sure to bring out a few smiles and chuckles here and there, especially the Mad Doctor’s musical notations, which were a personal highlight of mine.
However, Epic Mickey 2 never seems to make its mind up on how to present the story. Along the way there’s a constant switch from real-time cutscenes, cartoon strips and fully blown CGI. None of which match up to the visual prowess of the opening scenes either, which was a delight. A bit of consistency wouldn’t go amiss.
The main story path glides along at a fast pace too, which sees you being pushed away from new areas as soon as you’ve entered them. This means that the characters you meet along the way aren’t that memorable. With only a few minutes in the limelight some of Disney’s classic characters feel a little forgotten.
Mickey’s magical paintbrush makes a return allowing you to use either paint or thinner. You can paint in new structures to repair damage from the earthquakes, or if you’re feeling a little mischievous you can thin entire buildings and walkways to leave them old and perilous. This decision has quite a large bearing which becomes clear at the end.
This paint and thinning ability has a larger role as platforming tool. Many a time will you have to remove obstacles from your path in order to progress or paint in a new way to hurdle over a gap that’s too far to jump. Although the game gives you a prompt for an object that you can paint it doesn’t give you any idea of the objects you can thin, leaving you a little stumped if a wall is hiding a hidden pathway.
The thinning tool is also quite dangerous as it’s your primary weapon against the blots you’ll encounter along the way. By splashing enough thinner on a blot you will send it to a green and gooey grave. Or you can paint them in an attempt to befriend them.
You can control the paintbrush via the touchscreen but I immediately found myself reverting back to buttons. The touchscreen aiming wasn’t at all convenient for me. My hands felt out of place on the Vita and the splashes of paint were simply not going where I had pointed.
Apart from the magic paintbursh Mickey can also use sketches. The fairy sketch, for example, allows you to cause objects to float in the air for a short period of time. I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to use sketches as it revolves a lot of touchscreen finger work. It’s a bit hit and miss, similarly to the paintbrush. At this moment you get the feeling the touch screen features are more of a gimmick than actually being of any use.[drop]Even with the magic paintbrush and sketches you won’t get far without Oswald. He carries a remote which allows him to control electricity. You’ll need him to open doors and control contraptions. He also comes in handy in combat as the remote bursts out electricity at enemies and can cause an EMP blast. His rabbit ears act as though they are helicopter blades which gifts you and Oswald the skill to glide across long distances.
Oswald is controlled by the AI, unless you’re not playing through multiplayer, which is immensely frustrating. For example, you will find a lot of hidden objects which need to be activated by Oswald’s remote but it’s near impossible to get him to activate it. No matter how long you stand near the device or prompt him to come over he just won’t activate it.
You also need his help to defeat certain enemies, with an electric charge the only way to stun the foe. Yet again Oswald will be completely idle, oblivious to what he needs to do.
Despite these minor annoyances, none of which you’ll find to be game-breaking, I found the interaction between Oswald to be really entertaining to play when it all fits together. A bit of patience is key.
There are also a handful of boss fights, where again you can either use the paint or thinner tool to defeat them. These sadly aren’t that challenging at all really, but provide a nice break to the usual blots, and engage you in both a bit of platforming and combat simultaneously.
One of the commonly expressed flaws of the first game were bad camera angles. From my time with the Vita version it’s a shame to see this hasn’t been fully addressed. In some areas I had a few problems with depth of field, meaning I would misjudge a jumping distance time after time. The camera would also fully zoom into Mickey if I strayed close to a wall. Although this is again nothing game-breaking it does detract from the overall experience.
Visually Epic Mickey 2 could look better. The game is vibrant and hosts a variety of different environments, but the textures and outlines are jagged, especially those of the character models. There were also a few dips in frame rate from time to time.
Epic Mickey 2 also features multiplayer via ad-hoc mode, which I haven’t had the chance to experience. Players can play as either Mickey or Oswald as part of a co-op campaign.
- Charming story
- Musical at heart, the Mad Doctor’s part is wonderful
- It’s Disney!
- Touch screen features feel gimmicky
- Oswald’s AI is frustrating at times
- Camera angle issues
- Jagged outlines and textures
Despite the flaws of Epic Mickey 2 I’ve found myself enjoying the game more than I would have thought. The story is charming enough to keep encouraging you through Oswald’s idling and the poor depth of field, with the Mad Doctor’s songs arguably the best moments of the game. The touch screen abilities don’t quite work and you’ll find yourself quickly reverting back to old fashioned buttons.