Disney's Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion (Nintendo 3DS) - Review by Andrew
Like most gamers of a certain age, I first encountered Mick ey Mouse in video game form way back in the heady days of the Megadrive. This was gaming at it's best and I can recall wasting a huge amount of time on Castle of Illusion drawn to it's classic take on the 2D platformer genre. Since then things have been a little quiet for Mickey and while there's been a handful releases, and numerous cameos in other games, there's been nothing come even close to the type of experience Castle of Illusion delivered. That was until a couple of years ago when famed game designer Warren Spector announced that he was working on a stylish and unique platformer for the Wii which would re-launch Mickey Mouse (and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit) in a cartoon wasteland. The game did well with the press and public alike and a sequel was inevitable. What no one expected was a 3DS release and while this only has a passing resemblance to the Wii version it does at least allow gamers to sample the World of Disney in a 3D, handheld format.
While Power of Illusion is a platformer at heart you'll also be required to do some exploration in order to locate a number of 'missing' Disney characters. Why you ask? Well, to give the game it's plot of course. The characters in question have been imprisoned by the evil Witch Mizrabel who has placed them in various locations in her Castle and it's up to you to free them all. This is not a frantic 'against the clock' affair and the multiple-path levels allow you to wander around without fear of damage until you come across one of the many enemies. Disposing of these isn't generally a problem though, and usefully, they don't re-spawn either.
Should you manage to rescue any of the imprisoned characters you'll find them later in the ever-expanding Fortress. This is an area of the game, which not only fleshes out the story but also acts as a hub. You can spend your credits here in Uncle Scrooges shop on extra health, extra damage or even 'paint efficiency' not to mention undertake a number of quests. This is not the most entertaining task you'll undertake in the castle as this not only sees you travelling from one room to another but also replaying levels in order to discover missing items. Even more frustrating, you may have to do this more than once and while this extends the gameplay the same is not true for the enjoyment.
Actually moving the main character of Mickey is not only intuative but also incredibly responsive and navigating the various levels poses little problem. It needs to be too because, after all, this is a platformer and there's absolutely nothing more infuriating than poor controls and collision detection in this genre. In addition to getting around Mickey will also have to bounce on enemies or use the rather useful 'spin attack' in order to dispose of them and release all-important credits. Oddly there's no double jump and while the game works perfectly well without this you'll still feel like there's something missing.
Disney fans will be delighted by the games visuals with each level faithfully modeled on a classic movie. The rooftops from Peter Pan, the backstreet bazaars from Aladdin and the underwater world of The Little Mermaid can all be explored and, given the games slow pace, enjoyed. The animation is also incredible and watching Mickey run, jump and interact with the various characters and worlds represents some of the best 3DS visuals we've seen for some time.
The soundtrack perfectly accompanies the on-screen action with developers Junction Point employing a full Disney themed score to make you feel as if you were playing the game right in the heart of the Magic Kingdom. The sound effects are also up to scratch and there's even some mutterings (although not all fully understandable) from Mickey and some of the other main characters.
Like the Wii version gamers are encouraged to interact with their environment in an attempt to alter their outcomes. This is done by painting objects on the touch-screen which, in turn, appears in the main gaming area. A great deal of these can aid Mickey in his quest such as huge crashing boulders to dispose of enemies and even Tinkerbelle's fairy dust to allow you to glide effortlessly from one platform to another. There are cannons to propel you to higher areas, moving platforms and you can even uncover some missing characters if you look hard enough. Unfortunately this all gets a little repetitive and you'll find yourself tracing over the same objects just to complete the current level. It's a shame because this does all start out as very enjoyable and, with a little tweaking, it could have been one of the games unique and strongest features.
After a year or so of 3DS games we now know what does and doesn't work in 3D and while some of the more frantic action titles have suffered on the system, slower paced games have been allowed to take advantage of the consoles extra dimension. Power of Illusion is one game, which really does benefit from the 3D and like Renegade Kid's Mutant Mudds; the various levels are given a greater sense of depth thanks to their clever design. It's pleasant to actually see this effect working well on a game providing some evidence that it's not just a gimmick or something to mess with children's sight (according to the tabloids).
While Epic Mickey is an entertaining platformer you do quickly get the felling that the whole experience is dogged of missed opportunities. Useful power -up's, other playable characters and a few more levels would have helped to make a good game a great one. There's also the problem with the draw mechanic, which isn't actually broken but rather is one of the main reasons that the whole experience becomes far too repetitive for it's own good. It's still one of the better examples of platforming on the handheld and fans of Mickey Mouse are in for a platforming trip through the Disney classic movies.
Pro: Looks and Sounds Wonderful, Loads of Disney Characters To Unlock, Entertaining P
Con: Very Short With Annoyingly Repetitive Paint Mechanic.
Final score: 7