'Epic Mickey' for Wii spotlights classic funny animal characters
Nintendo's Wii has been pretty good to furries who enjoy "Zelda-esque" 3-D platformers. The console shipped with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, featuring a lupine Link, followed shortly by the generally considered superior port of ?kami. The console's backwards compatibility also brought the ridiculously furry Star Fox Adventures to the table.
Epic Disney begins with a cutscene showing the titular mouse entering a magic mirror to the old wizard from Fantasia's workshop. Seems the old wizard is using magical Paint and Thinner to create a world for forgotten cartoon characters.
Mickey tries his hand at it, and ends up royally messing everything up, spilling Thinner all over and creating a horrible Blot that eventually kidnaps him and sends him into this world, now known as Wasteland. So, Mickey has to find a way back out, and probably fix a few of his mistakes on the way.
Probably is the word, as the game is definitely in the vein of Fable or Knights of the Old Republic, where morality is stressed. Mickey doesn't have a morality meter, as such, but his only weaponry is a magical paintbrush with which he can fire streams of Paint or Thinner. The only way to increase his ability to fire this weapon is through moral acts, which increase Paint, or mischievous acts, increasing Thinner (think of that horrible Dip from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?). If the player so chooses, Mickey can leave Wasteland as is.
The story, about the consequences of Mickey's at first seemingly minor accident, and his redemption (or further fall from grace) is the highlight of the game. The "forgotten characters" aspect of Wasteland is used to good effect; though characters like Goofy and Donald make rather unique cameos, the game spends more time on obscure, but classic, funny animal characters like Big Bad Pete, Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow.
Of course, the ultimate example is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey's opposite number in Wasteland. He's not a big fan of Mickey's, as Mickey replaced him in the real world (quite literally – Disney created Mickey when he lost the rights to Oswald); their relationship to each other becomes increasingly important as the story progresses. Rounding out the important characters is the tagalong Gremlin Gus, who plays Navi to Mickey's Link (and is not anywhere near as annoying as that comparison would suggest).
On the Wii, control can be a gamekiller. Luckily, motion controls are at a minimum; just a simple shake to do a spin attack. The pointer is used to control Mickey's streams of Paint and Thinner; how accurate this is depends on how accurate you are, though smaller television screens will, of course, suffer. All in all, good controls.
It's the camera that becomes problematic. Moving the camera around is a bit of a chore, and occasionally counterintuitive. Unfortunately, left to its own devices, the camera would probably max out its Thinner upgrades. Occasionally, fixed angles are applied, but the game designers didn't always find the best solution there, either. Larger enemies in enclosed spaces (and they usually are enclosed spaces) are cheaply hardened.
A word of warning; this is a very difficult game. The storyline is a bit short, but due to the stress on moral decisions, replay is recommended. That being said, camera difficulties mixed with actual difficulties may stop players who aren't digging the storyline (which would be a shame).
On the art side, the graphics are Wii great; after all, this is a highly stylized cartoon land. Photo-realism isn't needed. The music is a wonderful mix of old Disney tunes with new instrumentation where appropriate. An early boss fight set to "It's a Small World After All" may have been worth the price of admission alone. Character design is pretty much pre-ordained, but classic.
All in all, a good game with one glaring flaw in the camera: 4 out of 5 stars.