November 27, 2012

Failed Review – Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 11:32 pm

Review Epic Mickey 2 The Power of Two
Given how much work goes into creating the elements that bring a videogame into existence, even releases that fall short of their goals tend to offer minor points of interest. I’ve often maintained that even the worst releases have good ideas seeded somewhere within their core – why else would people work so hard in the attempt to flesh them out?

But Disney is determined to prove me wrong, offering a disheartening view into the business side of game creation with the multiplatform release of Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, a game that feels as if it were assembled by machines in a subterranean dome. And while that may sound like an extreme appraisal of a project that clearly had human hands involved in its creation, anyone involved that ever had a love for playing videogames was clearly discouraged from expressing said love here, I assure you.

Any logical sense that guides the creation process has been abandoned in the bizarre effort to race the original Wii release to the bottom while selling you on the idea that the exact opposite is the case.

There are a lot of more fanciful and poetic paths toward opening a discussion about the game, but the simple fact is that I can’t be bothered.

Life is too short to expend the effort on Epic Mickey 2.


November 8, 2012

Demo Report – Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion

Demo Report Disney Epic Mickey Power of Illusion
With Disney now offering up a demo for Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, we all have an equal opportunity to finally sample the 3DS title, which has held my curiosity since the company revealed that the game serves as a sequel to the fondly remembered Castle of Illusion that hit the Sega Genesis way, way back in 1990.

And while on one hand it’s surprising that Disney would commission a 2D sidescroller in the here and now, the 2D elements of their Epic Mickey series make it a tad less so. It’s certainly far less surprising that the game ties into Epic Mickey at least, and this short taste offers players a chance to see how the relationship bleeds into the 3DS outing.


November 2, 2012

Review – Wreck-It Ralph

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — Jamie Love @ 12:51 am

Review Wreck It Ralph
As glorious as working in the videogame industry is said to be, the titular character of Disney’s latest animation feature is suffering from an extreme case of low job satisfaction.

From the glow of an arcade screen, Wreck-it-Ralph spends his days smashing up an apartment complex like a human Donkey Kong, all so that players can trade a quarter for the chance to fill the shoes of Fix-It Felix Jr., repairing the damage with his magic hammer while scaling to the top of the building, leaving Ralph tossed off the side and laying in the mud below.

When the arcade closes each night, Ralph is also left to watch Felix celebrated as a hero while living the solitary life of a videogame villain.

As with Pixar’s Toy Story series, Wreck-it-Ralph creates a world where familiar characters come to life when no one is watching. Here however, they are free to leave their arcade cabinets and socialize with one another, traveling via the electrical cord of their machines to a central hub, the power bar connecting all these games and characters.


October 21, 2012

The House of Mouse

Disney Epic Mickey 2
It’s hard to believe Warren Spector hasn’t always worked with Disney.

Spector visited Toronto last week along with writer Marv Wolfman to discuss the upcoming sequel to 2010’s Disney Epic Mickey, taking a moment to show off his Disney themed socks before demonstrating his extensive knowledge of the company’s animation history.

From documents and sketches hidden away in the Disney vault to pointing out the three rare instances where Mickey Mouse appeared in releases with differently angled ears, there’s no doubt that Spector has the deepest of appreciation for the source material painstakingly analyzed by Junction Point in creating a game that balances the need to chart their own course for Mickey while still honoring the years of work that have made Mickey the icon that he is today.

As impressed as I often am by passion, labors are not forgiven for shortcomings because of the love poured into them. But while Epic Mickey 2 carries the weight of criticisms regarding the original release, it’s very easy to believe that Spector’s motivation remains fixed on the earnest attempt to create a game worthy of the respect he continually pays to the house of mouse. And while Spector isn’t shy about pointing out that the original Wii exclusive sold quite well despite the critical reception, he doesn’t shy away from addressing complaints about the camera system and choice driven narrative that this sequel needs to improve upon on the road to realizing the original vision.


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.


December 20, 2010

Derezzing Tron: Legacy

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — Brad Johnson @ 4:59 pm

Tron Legacy
I didn’t exist when Tron hit theaters twenty-eight years ago, but elements of the film so permeate pop culture that it’s impossible not to be familiar with it, even if you’ve never seen it. When Tron: Legacy trailers began to disperse across the internets, intriguing me with their dark Daft Punk soundtrack and impressive amounts of shiny, I made it my business to go seek out the original film, so that I might be prepared to digest the sequel. Having seen Tron Guy and lightcycles and old jokes from The Simpsons and Family Guy, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

It was weird. My impression was distinctly that the film would have been received very different in 1982, but now, as a twenty-something in 2010, there was a real problem. Nevermind dated effects; Tron was a film that only made sense in the loosest way, with simplistic and sometimes unclear ideas. The world of Tron was one that it wasn’t easy to grasp, because the film doesn’t really tell you what that world is. There’s no mythology there, only the bare bones of a concept to fuel a special-effects adventure.

I walked into Tron: Legacy looking for the concepts and ideas of the original film to be expanded and developed into a modern story that would satisfy my need for detail, for understanding, and for a mythology that simply didn’t exist in the original film. Sadly, Tron: Legacy makes a tradition of vagaries and half-ideas, equally unformed and unsatisfying.


December 1, 2010

Review – Disney Epic Mickey

Disney Epic Mickey
The Wasteland is a refuge, a place where forgotten cartoon characters can live on within Junction Point Studios’ heartfelt tribute to the house that Mickey Mouse built. Freed from ownership by Universal Studios, even Oswald the Rabbit can find new purpose in this place, acting as both mascot and ruler for this world, providing shelter for his fellow ‘toons while obsessing over the popularity of Walt’s favorite son.

The sincerity drips from every digital brush stroke, and remarkable seems like a word worth using to describe the amount of attention given to the details. Junction Point has created a living, breathing world for characters few players are likely to readily remember. But the devil in those details is whether this labor of love offers an opportunity and incentive for players to truly immerse themselves in this world, or if this epic undertaking merely offers a lightly pulsing museum, one which assumes that the care of content can counterbalance significant design problems, which Disney Epic Mickey unfortunately offers in spades.

If this quick appraisal leaves you making a sad face beneath your Mouseketeer hat, join the club.


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