June 10, 2012

E3 2012 – Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

Disney Epic Mickey 2 the power of two E3 2012
Sitting down to discuss a game with any publisher is going to involve bullet-points, often with the razor sharpened and deadly efficiency of marketing power working to drill said points into your skull. So when I say that meeting with Disney to discuss the sequel to Epic Mickey involved a long list of bullet-points, you’ll likely thank me for pointing out the obvious.

In the case of Epic Mickey 2, Disney’s bullet-points begin with hitting the obvious – the 2012 release of Epic Mickey on Wii was an awkward one, sailing onto the Internet sea to find itself quickly smashed against the rocks by disgruntled waves. This wasn’t the result of the game simply falling short of its ambition, but of control problems that made appreciating what was accomplished consistently difficult and frustrating.

So Disney wants you to know that Epic Mickey 2 works diligently to resolve the camera system that garnered so much criticism the first time out, and that the game has added depth to the impact of player choice and how decisions affect the unfolding play of the game along the way. Disney also wants you to know that when you change something within the game, it remains the way you left it when you return – so no more painting the same house twenty times.

When these points have been hit, Disney wants you to know that Epic Mickey 2 is all about the power of two, encouraging players to tackle the game together as Oswald and Mickey.

It’s awfully tempting to believe in the goal again. Clearly the second swing of the bat on this release represents a matter of pride for Disney and Junction Point, the want to achieve the original vision and vindicate the entire idea.

But as with that first release, it’s impossible to know how successfully every issue has been dealt with short of playing through the entire game, and given the matter of cause and effect with regard to choice, probably playing through the game at least twice. I certainly didn’t anticipate how aggravating the camera was the first time out by simply playing the introductory level, and though my time with the demo this time was problem free on that front, as I say, we weren’t sitting down to play the entire game.

So while Disney was talking, I thought about another thing they’d like you to know, which is that Epic Mickey 2 looks significantly better in the visual department on the PS3 and 360. What particularly held my attention was the simple act of making Mickey jump again. Of how he expanded while leaping in the air and contracted on the landing like a spring – exactly how I would expect him to move in any cartoon that cared about the detail of movement – which is sort of a big deal if you’re making a cartoon, and a huge deal if you’re making a game about cartoon characters.

That would likely serve as my key bullet-point – hoping as I do for a game that demonstrates the joy of movement inherent to the content that made those cartoons so special for their time, and that said movement conveys the same sense of joy to my fingers that it does to my eyes. My short amount of time with the game so far seemed to grasp the idea within spaces designed to encourage my appreciation, but as always, the proof is in the pudding, and we’ll have to wait for Disney to serve that dessert later this year.

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