While the original Disney Epic Mickey was well received by critics and consumers alike, the ringing of tills didn’t present as strong an argument for the continuation of Junction Point’s Mickey Mouse extravaganza. Thankfully, Disney Interactive has taken the welcome and unusual move of looking beyond this, ignoring hurdles such as revenue and rising costs of development and instead arguing that the premise is strong enough to birth a second title. Electronic Theatre isn’t about to argue with that logic.
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two sees the return of the Mad Doctor from the original title, however this isn’t simply a case of recurring tyranny ala Dr. Robotnik or Bowser. The Mad Doctor professes that he’s a changed man, warning of a great evil about to exert its wrath on the Wasteland, compelling Oswald to travel with him and summon a hero to help them: Mickey Mouse. The adventure begins as Mickey makes his way from his reality to the Wasteland, acquiring his magic paintbrush and meeting with Oswald.
It’s at this point that the key mechanics of Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two are explained. Mickey and Oswald each have their own unique abilities that compliment one another. Mickey has a double jump, basic attack and is able to use his magic paintbrush to both add and remove detail using paint and thinner (R and L triggers respectively. Oswald has a double jump which leads to a hover ability, spin and boomerang attacks, and an electric stream that can be launched from his remote. Players can toss one another into the air and Mickey can grab Oswald’s legs during a hover manoeuvre to cross lengthy gaps. Both players can revive one another if need be, and take picture of the environment once the camera has been acquired. It’s a simple toolset that allows for a great range of challenges, harking back to the majesty that is Super Mario 64.
When playing solo the twin character system works much like that of the original Banjo-Kazooie, though players must wait for Oswald to approach (or call him directly) before using the abilities he offers. This results in an experience that was clearly built for two players to enjoy together, but nonetheless is entertaining in single-player mode.
For all of the hugely enjoyable gameplay that Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two does provide, there are many flaws accompanying the action. The most immediate issue is with the pacing of the videogame, stuttering at the start and taking far too long to allow the player to put into practice the skills they have learned. Exploration is welcoming; littering these areas with identikit characters with very little in the way of interesting commentary is an age-old problem that the current-generation had all but eradicated. So too are the camera issues, far too numerate to list here, and while Mickey and Oswald’s feet feel comfortably firm against the ground, the distances that may traverse in air are surprisingly short. More annoying than game-breaking, these issues are another area in which Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two reflects back on Super Mario 64, but fails to update that which became passé over a decade ago.
The visual quality of Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is certainly comfortable, but some may argue that the presentation was hamstrung by the co-development of a Wii version. There are many areas in which the world feels as though it was simply given a quick tidy-up for high-definition (HD) gaming rather than redrawn entirely, and yet the overall standard is still better than many of the lower budget productions the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 receive. To the contrary however, the sound quality is simply fantastic. The voice cast are clearly well versed in the world of Disney, not just what is expected of them for the plot of Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two but what their character means for the all encompassing universe. Disney Interactive are clearly hoping that the Disney Epic Mickey franchise becomes adopted into the wider Disney universe, and were such an invitation to be offered based on the lead characters alone Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two would make exclusion nothing short of criminal.
The popularity of the platform genre has consistently diminished since the 16-bit era, with many adapting its lessons to wider scoping adventure videogames. As such, it’s pleasing to see studios still willing to invest in the ideal of progressing the genre and even more so to see publishers ready to back them. Sadly, the obvious effort made by Junction Point – and Blitz Games Studio in the HD editions – has fallen flat, with not so much innovation as it homage to pioneers of years past. Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two may not mark a bright new future for 3D platform experiences, but it does provide bountiful entertainment for young families enamoured with traditional videogame experiences.