There’s something special about playing an Epic Mickey game on a PlayStation 3 - maybe it’s the controller, the crisp display, or simply feeling a little more like an adult while reliving my childhood. Whatever the reason, I was more than ready to delve into the sequel to one of the more creative titles released in 2010.
The demo began with a tutorial level in the realm of Fantasia and it's obvious Disney went to painstaking lengths to recreate every last inch of the full experience within Epic Mickey 2. In one of the most breathtaking moments, the animate brooms are silhouetted against the wall as they trudge along with buckets of water, completely channeling the original iconic scene.
Translating this game to a singular controller takes a little getting used to, so the tutorial level is a lifesaver, but overall it feels much more natural than Nintendo's angle of having me wave my arm in a fashion one can only describe as “modern awkward.” If you are a fan of the 1-to-1 movement of a Wiimote, you can use the Playstation Move to relive that experience, but I’m sticking with the controller.
Gathering the paintbrush from its resting place in Yen Sid’s workshop, I opened a portal to the next level of the demo, which was a 2D section inspired by the classic cartoon “The Old Mill.” With a few puzzle aspects and so much to explore, I realized I couldn’t go this one alone. Luckily, I was able to get by with a little help from my friend.
The most impressive leap forward for Epic Mickey 2 is drop in/drop out co-op with Oswald, which I had demoed live while I was playing “The Old Mill.” The kind gentleman running the show demonstrated me how easy it was to pop in and out of the game without any interruption in my gameplay whatsoever.
Whereas Mickey was simply the reuniter of Oswald and his rabbit-lady in the first Epic Mickey, the sequel features real interaction between the two within the game. The relationship they have is incredibly similar to the one between Sega BFFs, Sonic and Tails, except Oswald can do so much more. He acts as a flight device, helping Mickey reach higher ledges, presumably also secret areas, and has an electricity weapon that can stun enemies giving both players more breathing room.
The external relationship between Mickey and Oswald is also quite interesting, so bear with me here as I nerd out a bit about animation. Oswald was created by Walt Disney FOR Universal before Mickey even came into existence. In the late 1920s, Walt tried to parlay a trade for Oswald, but the price was just too high for the times and on his disappointing train ride home, Walt began conceptualizing Mickey. Finally in 2006, Disney acquired the rights to Oswald via a trade with Universal in which some sportscaster that no one really cares about was sent over to Universal. Wow. We traded a human for a cartoon. These really are “the days.” /history lesson
After some two player puzzle solving, I hopped through a portal and was transported into the next area. To finish off the demo in a grandiose fashion, Mickey was dropped right into a giant boss fight - meaning the boss was of considerable size AND the fight was lengthy. The boss was Elliot, who you might know better as Pete’s Dragon, but he isn’t the sweet character you may have originally known him as. He’s been transformed by the Mad Doctor into a fire-breathing menace who just wants to see Mickey burn.
To defeat Elliot, I had to complete four different stages, each requiring me to paint in or thin out portions of the dragon’s body. Even though the end goal was the same in each stage, the obstacles thrown at Mickey and Oswald differed heavily from one to another. Initially, I didn’t really notice Oswald in the battle, but toward the end, he played a crucial role in keeping grunts from swarming me, allowing the opportunity to transform Elliot back into the cuddly dragon he used to be. Overall, the battle was satisfyingly difficult. Sometimes games based around IP intended for children water down gameplay until it is painfully simple. Epic Mickey 2 doesn't hide behind relaxed mechanics and forces the player to actually work for the win.
The demo was well constructed and gave a wide range of what players can expect in The Power of Two. The variety of levels, ramping up in difficulty, and new feature integration gave attendees a large helping of the overall experience. Based on the look and feel of Epic Mickey 2, Disney fans - young and old - will have quite a lot to look forward to this fall.
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two will be released on November 18, 2012 for the Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and both Windows and Mac OS.