Gamescom: Disney Epic Mickey 2 - The Power of Two Preview
There was a lot to love about the original Disney Epic Mickey game, from its uniquely styled bric a brac world of Disney memorabilia to its clever cartoon-based paint and thinner mechanics. Unfortunately, a poor camera system and other wobbly bits stopped the action-heavy platform game from becoming a true classic. Thankfully however, all that seems to have changed as Disney prepares to release its sequel later this year.
It's not just about the little fixes though - Epic Mickey 2 also adds a complete co-operative game system, meaning two people can tackle the game's surprisingly vast challenge at once. There's also added emphasis on cause and effect as almost every action changes the game world in both small and significant ways.
In the latest game demo we've seen, for instance, an early tutorial stage has an optional side quest to use your painting ability to complete half-finished stars - and if you do, you create a Mickey-shaped constellation that can be seen from other areas of the game. There are also Guardian pools too, automatically changing to reflect the amount of paint or thinner you've used, permanently altering the layout of stages depending on your actions.
As this sequel is heading to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 alongside Nintendo Wii, there's a heap of added fidelity to proceedings, with developer Junction Point's animators creating a genuinely authentic Disney-inspired world. Every corner of Wasteland - the game's vast playground - is populated with relics of Disney's past. One new area, known as Disney Gulch, takes inspiration from the Disney theme parks' Western-styled Frontier Land. In the game, the red rock canyons and ramshackle saloons sit alongside other familiar sights, including the tiny train from Dumbo and the Mad Hatter's familiar headwear.
In Disney Gulch, we get to see another example of cause and effect as you're tasked with collecting batteries to power machinery later in the level. To get all three requires a bit of skill but you don't necessarily need a full set to proceed. The twist, however, is that the fewer batteries you collect, the harder the next area becomes as only certain platforms are activated to help you proceed.
Developing this idea even further are the 2D projector stages that make an overhauled return from the first game. Each projector stage is themed on a classic Disney cartoon, with Silly Symphonies short The Old Mill providing inspiration for the level shown in our demonstration. The original sees farm animals sheltering from storm inside a windmill - and it's been replicated in loving detail for this particular platform-based challenge. There's a twist though as your approach to the Gulch stage directly influences this area's difficulty - with a calm, pre-storm version acting as a reward for player that choose the tougher route while a tumultuous rain-blasted adventure awaits those that took the easy option.
There's more evidence of this kind of richness in other areas of the game. A boss battle featuring a parade float version of Pete's Dragon changes depending on your use of paint or thinner, for instance. It makes for a game that's packed with replay value, offering plenty of reasons to explore and experiment throughout the world. It all looks to be a significant step up from the already entertaining original game and we're looking forward to seeing more when Disney Epic Mickey 2 releases later this year.
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