All eyes may have been on Wii U at this year’s E3, but that didn’t mean there weren’t still a few Wii games to check out at the show. Beyond XSEED’s highly-anticipated RPG, The Last Story, which is due to hit North America in less than a month (and has already been available in Europe for the better part of the year), Wii owners still have Disney’s Epic Mickey 2 to look forward. And if my hands-on time with the game was any indication, they’ll want to keep their eyes out for this upcoming adventure.
Like its predecessor, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two takes beloved Disney icon Mickey Mouse on a journey into the heart of the Wasteland, a secret world filled with forgotten Disney characters and attractions. The tutorial level on display at the show began in a similar fashion to the first game, with the story kicking off in Mickey’s house, but this time around players will actually have a chance to explore the mascot’s home. The controls are also just as you remember them from the first game, with the A button allowing Mickey to jump (or double jump if tapped a second time), and the B and Z buttons allowing him to fire paint and thinner from his magical brush (which you’ll need to reacquire before the game can begin in earnest).
After exploring Mickey’s home and recovering his Paintbrush from Yen Sid’s workshop, I soon came across the game’s first side-scrolling level, which acts as a junction point between its free-roaming worlds. Like in the first game, these areas are inspired by classic Disney films, drawing their look and design from the company’s long history of animation. It was also here that a second player, taking on the role of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, got to join the adventure. Like Mickey, Oswald comes equipped with his own pointer-based weapon, but rather than wielding a second paintbrush that can create or erase objects around him, the rabbit brandishes a special remote control that gives him the power to command electricity. Oswald also has the ability to briefly hover in the air using his long ears as a helicopter, allowing Mickey to hitch a ride to otherwise-inaccessible platforms. Players will have to use these powers and work together to solve puzzles and defeat bosses, adding a unique twist to the Epic Mickey gameplay.
This cooperative aspect of the game was quickly put to the test in the demo, which culminated in a boss fight against a giant mechanical dinosaur. The representative at the booth informed us that there were a number of different ways that players could tackle the battle, but the strategy we devised was to use Oswald’s electricity to distract the robot while Micky used his paint thinner to erase the steel beams supporting the ceiling, causing it to come crashing down on the boss. The battle was quick and frenetic, even with both characters running around the area simultaneously, and it felt incredibly rewarding to finally take down the mechanical beast after coordinating a strategy and acting it out.
It also bears noting that I had no problems with the camera during my short time with the demo, which was one of the most prevalent criticisms of the first Epic Mickey. While it may yet be too early to call this a triumph over the original game, the representative at Disney’s booth assured me that greater pains were being taken to ensure a smoother camera this time around, which is certainly a promising sign for those who many have been turned off by the first game.
While it may have been overshadowed at E3 by Nintendo’s next-generation home console, Epic Mickey 2 is shaping up to be a fine swansong for the aging Wii. It may still be too early to tell whether or not the game will address some of the other complaints about the original, but fans of 3D platformers (especially those who were weaned on the likes of Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie) will find a lot to like in this upcoming sequel, which is set to hit the console this coming fall.