Note: This is the very first review written by podcast crew member Laura. Be nice, but be sure to let us know if it’s really terrible so we can fire her.
With a lot of gaming franchises you’ll end up seeing a poorly-transferred version of a console game come out for the handheld device of the time, presumably for some easy money. Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion takes that idea and gives it more hope. While the game has quite a few flaws, it carries many of the same elements as the original console game but at the same time holds strong on its own. Disney Interactive Studios has created a whole new game for the 3DS that fits with in the Epic Mickey world, and instead of trying to recreate an entire console game and shrink it down for a handheld device, they used the transfer to their advantage.
Based on the Genesis Game “Castle of Illusion”, Mickey travels back to Wasteland to stop the evil witch Mizrabel (of whom Disney fans will recognize from “Sleeping Beauty”) from draining the Toons’ essences in order to escape. Mickey must venture through the Castle of Illusion to save trapped Toons in different wings of the castle, and each wing is based on a famous Disney movie such as Peter Pan, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. You’ll also recognize a lot of the Toons from various Disney properties— not just from those three movies. Being a girl who grew up on almost all of the Disney films, it was a fun way to bring back those nostalgic characters and feel a part of the Disney universe.
EM: POI plays a lot like its predecessor Castle of Illusion, the usual side scrolling adventure where you collect some sort of currency– in this case E-tickets– and beat enemies. It adds the Epic Mickey touch by allowing you to paint or use thinner on certain items to help you avoid traps or reach stranded Toons. When you paint, you use the touch screen to trace the item you are working with and you will be graded by how well you do. The better you do, the better the item will hold up when you use it. When using thinner on an object you simply erase whatever item or symbol appears on the bottom screen. Tracing can sometimes be difficult to do since it’s judged by precision, though you don’t need to have a “perfect” score to have a working item. This can get very repetitive and distracting when trying to get through a level smoothly. You constantly need be painting and erasing throughout the course. It didn’t help that items you paint disappear after using them a few times.
Items you can use paint and thinner on will be highlighted on the bottom screen when in side scrolling mode. It can be tricky to see some of them, and you often have to jump higher to see items that may help you. You may also stumble upon highlighted Toons that you can paint to have them assist you throughout the course.
You will also receive sketches as an extra way to help you through a level. You can pick a certain amount of sketches to use, and they each have their own features. Some will spawn a character you’ve saved to help you fight enemies, others will just let you paint and place a platform to help reach high up secret areas. One sketch I found to be a little unreasonable though: The “chest” sketch allows you to paint a chest that will give you three items and then disappear. It is a little bit cheap since you can keep using it over and over to gain virtually infinite e-tickets or hearts.
Every Toon you save will end up with their own room added to the castle which can be upgraded with stars. Upgrading doesn’t do much except change the scene or unlock more side quests though, and I found that there were way too many side quests for how much actual gameplay there was. You are always running from room to room or redoing completed levels just to find a character you’ve been asked to save or a golden chest with a lost item inside. It made replaying levels very tedious and almost unbearable. While I usually find side quests to be a nice break from the regular game, I ignored as many as I could with these.
There are a few different attacks Mickey can use to defeat his enemies. Simply jumping on enemies using the B button to jump then again before landing on the enemy can be very affective, and it can also help you get to high out of reach places. Pressing the B button to jump and then pressing it literally right before landing on the enemy gives you a big boost up into the air. It can be kind of tricky to get the hang of but once you do it is very useful. Mickey has a spin attack used by pressing the Y button. It can help plow through some groups of enemies and it can destroy some terrain to help you progress. Pressing the A button allows you to throw paint or thinner at enemies who are further away, and you can switch between using thinner and pain by pressing the L button. Using the two different projectiles can have the enemy leave a specific item. For instance, I found myself using paint to destroy enemies since they almost always leave a heart behind.
Overall this game stays true to its Epic Mickey title and delivers a Disney-packed adventure. While it can get very repetitive over time, it still has the charming and nostalgic feel of Disney while pulling of a unique side scrolling platform adventure that is completely unique from its console predecessor.
Buy this game if…
You enjoyed the previous Epic Mickey game and want a new experience with the same universe.
Don’t but this game if…
You get frustrated not being able to soar through a side scrolling level. It is a non fluid game that makes you stop and think about how to get through a course. Also don’t buy it if you hate Disney movies… It’s full of princesses.
This game is better than…
New Super Mario Bros. 2
This game is worse than…