Words by Ben Griffin and Iain Wilson
EPIC MICKEY: THE POWER OF TWO
Epic Mickey 2 - now a confirmed Wii U launch title - is one of the last bastions of the traditional 2D platformer, more traditional than Super Mario Galaxy's progressive take on the genre but no less worthy of play. And, thanks to drop-in/drop-out co-op, you can take a mate along for the ride. They'll play Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to your Mickey, capable of giving the mouse a ride through perilous canyons with his hover ears, and turning foes friendly through a magical remote control.
Cleverly, your actions - whether you choose to befriend the game's cast of characters, or opt to mess with their world - have implications, injecting light moral choices into proceedings. It's always easier to jump on enemy heads, but NPC's will start to respond to you negatively and the world will become more tattered as a result.
We didn't get to see the effects for ourselves during our hour-or-so time with the game, but it's clear that gaming legend Warren Spector maintains his same love for Disney lore. That love made the first game special, despite some issues, and warming references this time around include Club 13, a take on Disneyland's only adult attraction, Club 33,a members-only restaurant, and Float Yard, which is packed with discarded displays recognisable from the famous daily Disney parade. And at the end of our hands-on, who showed up as the final boss? Elliot from 1977 live action outing, Pete's Dragon.
Epic Mickey 2 doesn't reinvent the platformer, but perhaps the fact it's one of the only ones going means it doesn't need to. Spent too much time shooting AK47s? You need to spend some time double-jumping. BG
EPIC MICKEY: POWER OF ILLUSION
On the surface Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion may appear to be just another old school platformer, but developer Dreamrift has taken full advantage of the 3DS' capabilities to bring this latest adventure to life. Following on from 2010's Epic Mickey, the story sees you heading into the witch Mizrabel's Castle of Illusion to rescue Minnie Mouse along with host of other Disney characters who are being held captive there.
The controls hark back to the Mickey Mouse platform games of years gone by, with your character moving at a deliberately slow pace and armed with a double jump 'butt stomp' to defeat enemies and bounce to higher platforms. As with the previous Epic Mickey game, you are also equipped with a magic brush that can be used to fling either paint or thinner at enemies. You only have a limited supply of each, and which one you use to dispatch foes determines the type of power-up you receive from them.
What sets Power of Illusion apart is the puzzle elements that appear on the lower 3DS screen. Here you see an outline view of the level being played on the top screen, with objects you can interact with highlighted - tapping on these whisks you off to a drawing minigame where you can change the world around you.
For example, you find a big axe blade swinging on a chain in front of you that's blocking your path, so you hit it on the lower screen then use thinner to completely erase it. You can then move on unhindered, or use paint to draw the chain back in and swing on it to reach a new area. As we found during our hands-on preview, the quality of your drawing efforts also affect the outcome. The first time we sloppily sketched a cannon it backfired on us, but later when we took some time to trace the outline perfectly, the resulting howitzer targeted and destroyed the nearby enemies instead - result!
We also got to experience the Aladdin-themed area Agrabah for the first time, where we found the levels to be pretty challenging. Avoiding patches of quicksand and taking down scimitar-toting bad guys was tough, but thankfully Mickey has one more trick up his sleeve. At the start of each level you can choose up to three allies from the Disney universe, each with their own unique ability, who can be called upon at any point to assist you. Tinker Bell, for example, enables you to jump higher, whereas Scrooge McDuck bounces around on his cane dispatching enemies for you.
The overall impression we took from our time with Power of Illusion is that it's shaping up to be an entertaining and challenging adventure, providing nostalgic nods to classic platform gaming but also maintaining a deceptive depth to its puzzles. IW