Review: ‘Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion’ for the Nintendo 3DS
This handheld spinoff of the Epic Mickey games features Mickey Mouse as Mario in an old-school side-scroller with cel-animation style visuals. What he’s doing in a 2D game with 2D visuals on a console with “3D” in its name is a mystery.
I’m sorry. That came out a bit grumpy. You see, I really liked this game. Up to a point. Then that point came and I was very disappointed in it. This made me re-examine the game a bit more harshly than I expected, but it all really is sour grapes.
Story and characters
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit calls Mickey back to Wasteland, the land of forgotten toons, because a mysterious castle has suddenly appeared. This castle is ruled by the evil witch Mizrabel, and her evil plot has her kidnapping unforgotten toons in order to steal their heart power. Because forgotten toons lose their hearts; toons we remember are full of heart power, and it can be stolen.
No, it doesn’t make sense. This is a video game about a talking mouse.
Anyway, Mickey, must rescue the lost toons from the castle, which is under a spell that causes different areas to be illusions of different Disney movies. Hence the “Power of Illusion” subtitle.
Jiminy Cricket tags along, mostly because that’s what Jiminy Cricket does. He doesn't provide helpful hints, dialogue for a mute protagonist (Mickey is not voiced, just like the rest of the characters, but he does have his own dialogue text), or even act annoying. The makers of the game figured they needed an annoying sidekick type character, forgot the Epic Mickey games already had one, then forgot the whole thing completely.
Over the course of the game, Mickey rescues toons from levels themed around Peter Pan, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. Rescuable characters are not just from those films, though the furries get the shaft. Sorry, Mickey, your castle has yet another princess. Robin Hood is completely absent, as are 101 Dalmations , The Jungle Book, The AristoCats, both Rescuers movies … you know what, I’m just listing furry movies now. Let’s move on.
There are rescuable Lion King characters, but not Nala. Completely off topic, but why is Nala not considered a Disney Princess? Seriously, she’s a princess who is in a Disney movie; blatant speciesism, that is.
Jumping in the Wii's Epic Mickey looks considerably more epic
The game is basically a classic 2D side-scrolling platformer, and it works well enough. The game falls to the simple fault of not being Mario, and I’m not just being facetious. Mario’s jump height, air time and run speed are, by design or accident, just about perfect for 2D side-scrolling platformers. Games that rip off this timing are generally remembered more fondly; Mickey does not rip off Mario jump for jump, and suffers just a bit for it.
Just like in the big boy console versions of Epic Mickey, Mickey has a magical brush that sprays paint and thinner. This manifests in game play as a simple shooting attack (attack an enemy with thinner, you get more money to buy various upgrades; paint, you get health) and the ability to paint out or paint in various objects on the bottom touch screen. This is a gimmick straight out of an early DS game.
Oh, and by the way, The Little Mermaid equals underwater levels, which equals frustration.
The gameplay is much better than I made it sound; it is by no means perfect, but it gets the job done. The real fun is seeing which lost Disney toon is hiding around the next bend. You don’t realize how much you really love a lot of these characters until you get severely overexcited to find Timon and Pumbaa.
Graphics and visuals
The visual look here is very simple, with sprites rather than actual models. This fits the animated look very well. It is not a graphical wonder, but it does not need to be. The characters are iconic. Just show us a picture of them, and we’re happy.
The 3D is completely missing the point. Turn it off.
The problem with this game, and why it got me so grumpy, is the ending. It just ends. You beat the third boss, and that’s the end of the game. I was having fun, and then, oh, we’re done. It feels like the first third of a decent game.
Don’t you just hate abrupt ends?