When a jaded adult is commissioned to write a review of a candy-coloured adventure designed for children, it’s often hard to appreciate how juvenile imaginations can be captured by videogames that older players find garish, repetitive and dumb. But while this latest outing for Disney’s legendary rodent is clearly aimed at preteens, there’s no doubt that most kids will be disappointed by this latest take on Mickey's illustrous legacy.
Like the original Epic Mickey, The Power Of Two is brought to life by an ingenuous story that riffs on Disney history and thrusts the high-pitched hero into the sprawling Wasteland that's inhabited by forgotten heroes and villains from the House Of Mouse’s remarkable past. Moreover, the action itself is also wildly inventive as it's intrinsically linked to classic cel animation, allowing players to wield a paintbrush that can be used to solve a myriad puzzles, access new areas, and daub enemies in gaudy colours to make them friendly, or use thinners to literally paint threats out of history.
But while the premise is fascinating, Epic Mickey 2's execution is awkward and clumsy. For starters, Mickey is accompanied on his fantasy romp by Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, who's steered by the computer in single-player games, but can be controlled by a second human gamer at any time. However, while adding a second human player makes the action and exploration more fun, the game becomes deeply irritating when Oswald is driven by dumbass AI, which often sees the floppy-eared cutie running aimlessly against walls, falling from platforms, and generally getting in the way.
The addition of Oswald aside, Epic Mickey 2 is also disappointing as it fails to correct the mistakes of its forebear, with the original game's ambitious action stripped back to simple platform-hopping with only the odd puzzle punctuating the action, an objectionable in-game camera that still struggles to follow what’s going on, and cruelly repetitive gameplay that even the youngest players will find grating after only a few hours.
With its affectionate references to Disney's bygone era, charming musical numbers and a structure that confronts players with interesting moral dilemmas, Epic Mickey 2 is a game that promises fans an experience to cherish. But with poor design and series of flaws that soon become deeply irritating, it’s hard to recommend The Power Of Two to anyone except diehard Disney aficionados.
Reviewed by David McComb