Second Impressions: An update from Wasteland

Minor spoilers ahead.

I originally jumped into Epic Mickey without reading any reviews or recent comments; I still don’t really know what the rest of the Infendo crew thinks of the game (according to post comments, I’m on one side of a rift. Really?) The first hours of of Epic Mickey were amazing: As a Disney geek, I got my money’s worth by the time I hit Mean Street.

Many more hours into Wasteland and nowhere near finishing (this game is huge), here’s a quick update before a final review.

I still like Epic Mickey—A lot. But, a few worlds later…and considering the near-infinite possibilities of a toon-based world…I’m getting a wee bit tired of fixing machines.

What began as novel and ingenious is becoming a bit  repetitious. If this was any other game world…any other story…I might be tempted to say, “Okay…I’m full. Next.”

But that’s the game’s saving grace: This isn’t just another world. The story is involving and even a bit heartbreaking. Running around as a perfectly-animated Mickey is still a hoot. The settings are still amazing. Imaginative villains keep popping up. The spot-the-obscure-Disney-reference aspect just keeps getting better.

I can sum it up like this: Epic Mickey’s story is more captivating than I expected. Epic Mickey’s gameplay is not as consistent as I hoped. Some folks might call the gameplay “meh.” I’d call it “meh +”…with occasional phoenix-like bursts of brilliance and amazement.

Why do I keeping enjoying this game? Because of moments like this: There’s a point on Mickeyjunk Mountain (which is literally a mountain of real-life Mickey merchandise crappola) when you suddenly realize you’re standing on giant discarded cartridges of NES Mickey Mousecapades and SNES Magical Quest. And it’s beautifully rendered, sad and strange all at the same time. These discoveries keep me going between the outstanding cinemas and terrific side-scrolling pathways.

But, just to prove I’m not completely blind to this game’s faults, let me mention my two favorite broken moments in Epic Mickey so far:

First: I love it when Gus Gremlin makes a big show of telling you to press 1 to see the world through Mickey’s eyes. So, naturally, when Gus is done you immediately press 1 and…NOTHING HAPPENS! You soon learn that you can only go to first-person view at certain points. I think I’ve determined the secret: It only works when you don’t need it.

My Second Favorite Broken Moment: When I had to jump sideways to a ledge in Tomorrow City, but kept getting knocked back and injured by an off-screen thinner-spraying villain who remained offscreen, because the camera chose that exact moment to dig in its heels and not budge in any direction at all.

I’ve coped with the camera issue by imagining it as an unseen villain who keeps trying to kill me. In fact, I’ve combined two adjectives and named it Bustard. Bustard the camera.

I still love the paint & thinner mechanic. I still admire the multiple paths through worlds and the fight-or-solve story branchings. The constant backtracking? Not so much.

So, midway through, do I still recommend Epic Mickey? For Disney fans, absolutely. For everyone else? At the very least, rent it. The story might hook you.

I’m just hoping this quest ends with a finale that lives up to the title.

Full review coming soon.

(Note: I just Googled and discovered that the bustard is an actual bird, found in parts of Europe and Asia. I did not know that.)

6 Responses to Second Impressions: An update from Wasteland

  1. EdEN says:

    Finally picking up my CE pre-order tomorrow. Love me some Disney and Mickey on the Wii.

  2. Chelsea says:

    I love the idea of the in-game camera as an enemy with an actual name. lol. Gives new meaning to the time-honored concept of fighting the camera.

    I do think it’s a little cheap for game developers to slap an established, beloved franchise on a game, knowing that the fanbase will run out in droves to buy a game with their favorite characters no matter what. I never played the Kingdom Hearts series but I know countless people played it (when they otherwise wouldn’t have had any idea what it was) simply because it had Disney characters in it. Is this really all it takes to get people to buy a game these days? I guess that’s why there’s so many video games based on movies. Why bother making up new characters and stories when you can just borrow someone else’s.

    And I remember reading about all these people saying that when the movie Ratatouille came out (which I thought was mundane and awful), they HAD to go see it, because it’s about cooking and they like cooking. Really? The movie’s about cooking so you have to see it? Do you have to see every movie with a dog in it if you like dogs? Or every movie starring Brad Pitt if you’re a fan of Brad Pitt? Unfortunately, I think this is what the modern mentality of the American consumer boils down to.

    Not to imply that Epic Mickey is a bad game (I haven’t played it), but it bothers me when people overlook a movie or game’s flaws simply because of who’s starring in it. We should demand quality, dangit!

  3. Richard says:

    Aw, Chelsea, you just slammed one of my favorite movies…but that’s okay: I’m beginning to suspect I have a bias toward films and games starring rodents.

    Kingdom Hearts is another good example of inconsistent gameplay and an evil camera saved by story and art direction.

    From what I’ve read on Disney forums, there are quite a few non-gamers buying Wiis just to play this game. Maybe they’ll be intrigued enough to try SMG2 afterward.

    About Bustard…there are times when this demon camera actually seems to be aggresively fighting back at any effort to move it: There’s amost a feeling of physical force at work. It’s almost funny.

  4. bananaoomarang says:

    @Chelsea

    For some people, having something like a wealth of something such as Disney references in a game, is enough reason to enjoy the game. People still buy games based on films, even if they are crap. If there wasn’t demand for such things, they wouldn’t exist.

  5. baelnic says:

    Hah. I watch just about every movie that revolves around chefs/restaurants/cooking. I watch them to see how they edit scenes, light kitchens, frame shots. It’s a passive watching experience that ties to an active hobby for me.

    I understand people that like to complete their collections, even if that collection is watching or playing every appearance of something.

  6. Paul says:

    @Chelsea It was Disney who approached Warren Spector about making the game. Warren is a HUGE Disney fan and so this is a loving homage to many lesser-known Disney lore along with being a Mickey game, who we haven’t seen have his own game in a long time. The story in the game, however, is wholly original, just involving Disney characters and set pieces (that have been turned upside down).

    It’s okay for a game to be better than the sum of its parts if its in part because of the world. I’d rather have interesting gameplay than characters I know and like, but the rich history of Disney allows for a deeper story than, say, a game based on Avatar (ie. generic fantasy universe). This wasn’t a game developed just to sell to Disney lovers, it was meant to allow you to experience a portion of the world of Disney in a way you hadn’t before. Not everything has to be new, and just because a game is based off of a movie or a book or whatever doesn’t mean the devs are lazy and there isn’t anything new and unique to be had.

    @Richard Your pre-review comments mirror those of reviewers I follow. The camera can be junk, the gameplay can be pretty lackluster and uninspired, but the story is pretty damn good and the Disney love is infectious at times. I myself believe all those things to be true.

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