Game Review: Epic Mickey for Nintendo Wii

Epic Mickey

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an avid gamer.  Prior to my having a Wii, the last console I owned was the Sega Genesis back when our roommates at the time and I would waste hours and hours playing Mortal Kombat or Earthworm Jim (still one of the greatest bits of absurdity I have ever had the pleasure of playing).  And quite frankly, I didn’t even want to get another game system… Mrs. Blahg, who prior to the Wii was always glaring at myself and the aforementioned roommates while we played either Mortal Kombat or Earthworm Jim or any other game being played for that matter, had been wondering about getting the WiiFit in order to do yoga.  Yoga.  As though it requires a video game system and a balance board… as opposed to… I don’t know… a mat?  Anyway… the irony was lost on no one, and for Father’s Day a few years ago, I got my very own Wii with WiiFit!

The majority of the games I have played since we got the system have been either nice wholesome exercise/sports games with the kids… and for this I love Fit as well as Sport’s Resort… or still wholesome, and very entertaining games such as Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart and various Lego games. Most of the time I find myself playing at the behest of one of my girls… the only other times I play are Rock Band and I played Call of Duty: World at War for a bit, but I don’t want to play those when the kids are running around…. I know…. I’m a square. Just not sure if little girls should watch daddy snipe a Nazi general… perhaps they should. I don’t know. Rock Band is fun for all… they just don’t know the music (other than the Beatles… they love to sing to that). Which brings me to the review of Nintendo Wii’s new Disney video game Epic Mickey… I may not play this as in depth as others may, I can only tell you how it is to play on behalf of 8 and 5 year old girls.

Immediately, the game is gorgeous. The opening intro video (shown below) lays out the basic plot of the story… Mickey Mouse enters the workshop of Yen Sid, the sorcerer from Fantasia, as he has completed making a world that looks suspiciously like Disneyland with his magic paint brush. He then proceeds to goof around as young mice are want to do and screws everything up… and in the process, destroys the magic land, creating Wasteland as well as creating the Shadow Blot, long time Mickey nemesis. Mickey manages to escape back into his (our?) world and blissfully forgets his mischief. Months pass… and the Blot finds him and drags him into the Wasteland.

That is simply the intro… once you enter the Wasteland, game play takes over and this is where it hits a few snags. The challenges I have encountered so far (I’m not too far into the game yet) have been enjoyable… difficult enough that it isn’t immediately clear what has to be done without a bit of thought and not so difficult that frustration takes over. But many of the camera angles and the attempts to switch angles is dodgy at best. I’ve found myself having to take various leaps of faith for no other reason other than not being able to see where I needed to see. At one point I had Mickey staring at me and having to jump towards myself (it didn’t work). The only work around seems to be going into Mickey POV, find which direction you wish to see and go back to normal view… a bit clunky and even that doesn’t always work.

Visually, it’s dark. I’m not referring to the much ballyhooed personality change they gave Mickey in the game… I’m referring to brightness… it’s very very dark and that at times has been a bit of a hinderance. Maybe if I were playing at night with all the lights out it would be easier to see at times, but I’m playing with the kids… and they want to play at 11am. The only downside to plasma TVs I suppose. At times the visuals don’t seem as complete as they could have been either… and with that I’m not sure if it’s due to the Wii’s limitations in that department or a fault of the game makers themselves. It just seems as though things appear and disappear for no reason and with different angles you can get strange views. It wouldn’t be as big a problem if it weren’t coupled with bad angles and trying to figure out which way is up in the dark.

Conceptually though… the game is awesome. When Mickey arrives in the Wasteland he discovers an old Disney cartoon rabbit Oswald and many other forgotten Disney cartoons. Armed with Yen Sid’s magic brush and with the help of Gus the Gremlin, Mickey has to help rebuild the Wasteland and defeat the Shadow Blot. In the process, we do in fact see a different Mickey emerge. Like his surroundings, he has a bit of a darker edge to him… obviously an attempt to make the aging mouse seem more relevant and appealing to today’s greater appreciation for anti heroes and flawed protagonists. As he moves through each level, shades of Disney history and theme park rides and attractions color each quest… and ink pours upwards from Mickey’s body is a cool Daliesque touch. Armed with paint and thinner, you can either rebuild or destroy as necessary. At one point I got a little pissed at one of the Gremlins and in a bit of vengeance I hit him and his house with thinner… erasing the house and melting the Gremlin. Seemed a reasonable response at the time… but bothered me afterwards. Why was I even able to do that?? I don’t know if I like having to have moral quandary’s while playing Mickey Mouse.

Overall… I’m digging this game. It’s not without faults, but it is a fun and at times challenging game. Clever story and beautiful imagery saves the game from bad control. I’m looking forward to exploring more of the Wasteland and seeing where the story itself takes us… if anything swings my opinion one way or the other as I continue with it I’ll be sure to let you know. Until then…

No quarters necessary,
Cornelius J. Blahg

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