|Dev: Junction Point|
|Pub: Disney Interactive Studios|
|Release: November 30, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: 480p||Cartoon violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
June 17, 2010 - Ever since its reveal earlier this year, Epic Mickey has been a hotly-anticipated title. With a visual style that recalls a steampunk sensibility and some very dark images of classic Disney landmarks, this title certainly represents a change of pace for the house of Mickey. We went hands-on with this title at E3 and were definitely expecting a lot from Epic Mickey's first playable offering. We weren't disappointed.
The level we were able to check out is based on Skull Island, which is originally from the Peter Pan animated series. Smee, Captain Hook's faithful (if bumbling) second-hand man has a ship that is stuck in the harbor, and Mickey has to help him free his ship by finding the anchors that are weighing it down and destroying them.
The World of the Wasteland (which is basically where cartoons go to die) is very beautifully realized, and right off the bat I was surprised by the level of detail in the game. I know its cliché to say that something looks good "for a Wii game" but Epic Mickey is one of those few titles that just looks good period. The visual styling of the game is very dark, but at the same time it features a uniquely Disney signature that helps the content feel "familiar" to Disney fans.
As we went through our Demo, a member of the development team explained that the Wasteland was comprised of two separate but equal components: toon and non-toon. Toon elements are the interactive elements of the game that look like they have been pulled from a Disney movie and can be anything from cartoon enemies to buildings and structures permeating the landscape.
The distinction between toon and non-toon is quite important, as it governs how you can interact with the elements around you. If you encounter toon elements, you can use paint as well as paint thinner to interact with the element. Paint thinner is Mickey's way of erasing things from The World of the Wasteland, and it is generally used to dispatch enemies or erase obstacles in your way. However, if you are feeling less destructive, you can use paint. Paint is only really used on enemies and can change them to allies. This is a particularly effective means of fighting the enemy, as you can tackle a bunch of enemies by coloring half of them with paint and allowing them to attack the non-painted units.
There is also another reason to use paint instead of thinner; thinner turns Mickey dark. Though Mickey never quite takes the plunge in to absolute darkness, he does take on darker attributes, and NPCs will react differently to Mickey if he has been using too much thinner in one area. This is a very interesting aspect of the gameplay, and I was advised by the developer overseeing the demo to think about how I was defeating enemies, not just why.
Of course, the game also gives you a third option when confronting enemies: items. One thing that was new in the E3 demo was the presence of distracting elements (such as a TV that shows a Steamboat Willie cartoon) that can be used to draw enemies' attention away from you (and not waste valuable paint and thinner). Although you can find many of these items just by walking around, the game also uses a currency system which allows you to purchase more supplies and items.
In addition to the regular action-platforming levels, there are also short side-scrolling minigames that facilitate transit to the game's hub world. The side-scrolling level we saw took on the form of the Steamboat Willie cartoon and saw an old-school Mickey jumping around black and white obstacles on what looked like an antiquated celluloid reel.
Epic Mickey is definitely shaping up to be a cool game and could give Super Mario Galaxy 2 a run for its money this year for best Wii game. In addition to the content I was able to play through on the show floor, it was confirmed that classic Disney theme park locations like the Enchanted Tiki Room as well as the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse will all be playable in the final product. Though the game has always had a high "cool" factor in my book, my hands-on time with the game has cemented it as one of the must-play titles coming this fall. Though there is no firm release date yet, I have been assured that the game will be available before the end of the year.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor