Previews

Should Disney be proud of Epic Mickey?

We see how the legendary mouse is shaping up...

Disney's track record hasn't given them much to boast about. They're hardly going to put their name all over Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers, are they? ('Really Honestly Nothing To Do With Us Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers', perhaps.)


Question is: are they right to be so proud of Epic Mickey?

Warren 'Deus Ex' Spector's ambitious mash-up of mouse, Mario and Zelda has come on a great deal since its 2009 unveiling. Back then Mickey bounded through blocky levels while Spector promised revolutionary level-tweaking paint powers.

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Now he scampers through gothic-flavoured Disney dreamscapes, levels plucked from films, cartoons and theme park rides. And yes, his paint brush puts level design in our hands as obstacles are erased or materialised at will. What a difference a year makes.

BRUSH WITH DEATH
Paint and thinner are life and death; each has a place in the world. Spew splattering paint on Mickey's inky Blotling foes and he enlists them to fight by his side. Wipe them out with thinner and he may be rewarded with paint or sketches (more on them later).

Choosing between creation and destruction bleeds into all Mickey's actions. Do you trigger a pressure switch with a weight you've painted or by destroying the branch that holds a weight above?

Judgement calls extend far beyond one-on-one combat. One mission sees Mickey trying to liberate the pirates of Skull Island from a machine converting them into robots. Flood the machine with thinner and it implodes, earning you instant rewards and the trust of the remaining buccaneers.

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Choose to flood it with paint and there'll be no instant gratification, but you will save those pirates already converted - and in the long run they might offer you better treats.

Alternatively, you could play the callous card and ignore the entire task, leaving the whole rotten bunch to suffer in eternal robotic agony. Time saved through selfishness will come at the cost of potential interactions.

In this version of events Mickey returns to find Skull Island empty, missing key sub-quests and items. Having only seen tiny snippets of levels, it's impossible to judge how strictly Junction Point hold Mickey to his actions.

We get the feeling Epic Mickey will only truly make sense in its entirety. The snippets are great, however. The latest build takes us to the Gremlin Village, a decrepit carnival setting constructed from faded prototypes of now-popular Disney rides.

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Alice In Wonderland's teacup ride and Dumbo's flying elephants sit untouched. The It's A Small World theme music plays, only it's slightly off key, giving the scene a demented carnival creepiness.

Mickey's in the middle of all of it trying to restart rides and clear out a Blotling infestation.

Fixing rides is the fun part. Gaining access by melting down the Mad Hatter's giant teacups, Mickey is faced with rotating platforms. He doesn't handle vertical surfaces too well, so he must thin the platform's whirring cogs to halt them.

If a platform isn't aligned right, just paint the cog back in. Up until then we'd only seen the platforming potential - skimming the height off objects too tall to climb, for example - but this gives us hope for grander paint puzzles.

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SKETCH SHOW
We've also got to grips with sketches. Not your average powerups, Spector wanted these special items to get away from the typical 'use X on Y' formula. He sees items along the line of Link's - tools with surprising uses depending on where you use them.

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