Game Review

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Port by numbers

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two should, on paper, be an excellent game. The original Wii-exclusive title showed a great deal of promise but flawed execution, so optimistic logic suggested that the sequel would resolve those issues and build on the strengths found in that début, making some Disney fans very happy. Not only does Epic Mickey 2 fail to build on its predecessor, but it takes the series backward, while this Wii U port is the epitome of sloppy and rushed work.

We've already played through this title on Wii, so our Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two Wii review will also have a lot of relevant detail as, ultimately, these are both the same game. This new entry aims to introduce mandatory co-op into the mix while bringing musical moments to the storytelling. While the plot may be simple and predictable — this is a game suitable for children, let's not forget — the way it's told is often exceptional. A mixture of CGI, game-engine and gorgeously animated cutscenes are fully voice-acted and positively dripping with charm, with these moments providing the primary motivation to continue. Throw in excellent music and, at times, this title is an audio-visual treat.

That brings us to one clear advantage that Wii U has over its smaller predecessor, with its HD output giving us crisper, more defined colours and images that make a notable difference to gameplay. At times the muddy visuals on Wii — though they are rather decent in their own context — made some particularly poorly designed areas hard to figure out, and we even stumbled onto some optional objectives while playing on the new system that we'd missed on Wii, such as a blurry floor area that actually turned out to be a lift. With that said, the resolution is the only improvement here; while that may sound like a strange and obvious thing to say, it's clear that aside from upscaling assets little else has been done to reflect the greater available resources. At times there's a tiny bit of added visual flair, but much of the time the engine looks overly primitive and occasionally ugly under the harsh glare of high-definition visuals.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of the evidence that suggests this is little more than a half-baked, rushed port. The most egregious issue is the framerate, which defies the simplistic graphical approach to deliver a particularly choppy performance. It's woefully inconsistent, with some areas pleasingly going along at an acceptable — though not exceptional — rate, only for it to dive to frustrating levels with little obvious cause. There's a fair bit of poor level and boss design in this title, so when the framerate decides it's joining in with its own sub-par performance it's enough to put the safety of your GamePad at risk.

In terms of the GamePad, it's been utilised in the minimal possible sense. On the positive side the touchscreen permanently displays a map with useful hotkeys; you simply tap a key or on the map to zoom the view or see the locations of objectives, exits and side missions, as well as quick access to some abilities. It's a little chunky and laggy, in truth, but it's functional and the map element is actually useful. That's it on the GamePad positives, and it's the missing features that expose the lack of care and effort in this title.

For starters, aiming your crosshairs to fire paint as Mickey uses the right analogue stick along with ZL or ZR, which makes sense. The problem occurs with the aforementioned framerate problems, which causes your aim to move as smoothly as treacle, while the juddery camera movement exacerbates the issue. This isn't a problem in every area, but there are bottlenecks where the issues combine to irritate gamers of any level of ability; it can be a mess. We did discover a new tactic for fighting enemies because the paintbrush aiming is so wonky, but that involved kamikaze charges at enemies to execute a spin attack, whereas we preferred a tactical, shooting approach beforehand; that flies against the idea of choice that's supposed to be core to the series.

It's also a staggering oversight that player one is forced to use the GamePad, when it's not even doing anything that special, as we know full well that the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination can do the job, arguably better; only player two can use the Wii control scheme. Off-TV play is also posted missing, meaning that local co-op still uses a split-screen despite that handy screen on the GamePad. It's frustrating, it must be noted, as it seems to strive to maintain graphical fidelity on both halves at the cost of dropping more frames — in our experience — whereas the Wii version seemed to have the common sense to drop detail in order to maintain a playable framerate.

In these respects, the Wii U version surprisingly fails to offer the optimal version of the experience. Like the Wii title this game is at times a pleasure, with areas that feel well constructed and gameplay that feels natural — the short 2D levels are obvious stand-outs. The same problems exist, however, with open arena-style areas that suggest a lack of understanding of what should make a 3D platformer tick, with enough frustrating jumps and confusing puzzles to send many to the nearest walkthrough, and others looking for the power button. As for Oswald, our AI co-op buddy, he can be occasionally helpful, often useless and on a few occasions an actual nuisance; the co-op concept feels like a mis-step, overall.

Conclusion

Ultimately, this Wii U version of Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two fails to utilise the potential of the system or its controller. There's a small mercy in the form of a useful map and hotkeys on the GamePad screen, yet other elements of the controls feel worse than on Wii due to performance issues. The slight advantage of having a HD resolution is lost once the engine decides it can't handle the action, and it says much that we yearned for the relative stability of the Wii version. This isn't how a game port to a more powerful system should be, and if you absolutely have to sample Mickey's latest adventure we suggest looking to your old system or the Wii Menu.

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User Comments (43)

MrWalkieTalkie

#1

MrWalkieTalkie said:

I already got it and the frame-rate is horrid. But I'm stil dedicated to finishing this ordeal of glitches.

Shiryu

#2

Shiryu said:

I will endure the terribleness and buy it soon, what can I say, I keep giving Disney money in hope they release a new "TRON Uprising" video game...

PinkSpider

#3

PinkSpider said:

God if I read one more review of a Wii U game that has poor frame rate I'm gonna kill myself. (bit extreme) I'm sick of it why is this happening is the Wii U really that hard to program for? Is it the same for the other hd consoles?
This is beyond a joke now

cornishlee

#4

cornishlee said:

@PinkSpider
I suspect it's just its newness. I can only hope I'm not wrong but I'd expect it to become increasingly more rare as more games appear which were developed with the Wii U in mind from day one.

PinkSpider

#5

PinkSpider said:

@cornishlee I think the Wii is gonna be the platform that is gonna get the ports unfortunately. I think what annoys me more than anything about epic mickey is that the original was a big Wii exclusive, this should have had alot more care and love for fans that ownedthe original not just a shoddy port with no thought for the new features and capabilities of the Wii U. I remember seeing interviews with Warren Spector for the orifinal and how much love he had for the original Wii game. Seems to not care now what a shame

SpaceKappa

#6

SpaceKappa said:

This port is so bad my wife was almost in tears she was so disappointed. We both loved the Wii original and decided to wait and get the sequel on Wii U because Epic Mickey feels "Nintendo" to us and we could get the new HD resamalutions that the original Wii couldn't do. Needless to say we're not happy with the purchase.

I think it would have been a lot better if Mickey used the Wii Remote and Nunchuck while Oswald used the GamePad, which both suits his controls better as well as kept his action off the TV so they wouldn't have had to resort to split screen.

Awful, awful port.

ThomasBW84Admin

#8

ThomasBW84 said:

@SpaceKappa Jeez, sorry to hear that Joe, it's a real pity.

I think the issue with this one is the publisher, not Junction Point (Warren Spector's studio). Granted, I gave the Wii game 5/10, but I genuinely hoped this one would resolve performance issues and score something like 6. It does the reverse, and that's down to the separate studio that did the port, and Disney (as publisher) for hiring them and signing off on the final product.

SammyOfMobius

#9

SammyOfMobius said:

You know what? Why doen't Disney ditch this game series and make a black & white cartoon on Disney starring Mickey and Oswald? That would be a dream come true... :)

cornishlee

#10

cornishlee said:

@PinkSpider
I'm hoping for a lot of multi-platform titles but that's different to ports and, if done right, shouldn't effect the quality since the console would be a part of the development process from day one. We'll see though, I can't really imagine a platform surviving on ports alone.

SpaceKappa

#11

SpaceKappa said:

@MultiMariosonic I want them to do a Christmas special about Oswald coming home to his brother Mickey's house and re-joining the family. There will not be enough tissues in the WORLD to contain the tears.

9th_Sage

#12

9th_Sage said:

I've heard that the development time of this port was very short all things considered. That said, I'm sure in this case it's not the fault of the WiiU so much as an awful, awful port. It's so disappointing. I really really wanted this to be good.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#13

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Big fan of the series and actually bout the Wii version at launch as it was £17 cheaper at launch! HD isn't worth that much especially when the Wii versions of the series always look decent anyway. Thought the actual "proper" game was lacklustre anyway compared to the first game.

Nintenjoe64

#14

Nintenjoe64 said:

@PinkSpider It's just rushed porting and lack of experience with the hardware. The PS3 has had the same issues with many games.

I got a chance to compare my cousins PS3 and Xbox versions of AC3 and BO2 and the xbox versions are noticeably smoother on the intense parts but not to a game changing extent. The graphics occasionally looked different but not any better or worse.

rjejr

#15

rjejr said:

So Thomas actually played thru this entire game twice - once on Wii and once on Wii U? Poor poor man.

I could never finish the first game, which is a crime b/c open world platformers are my favorite genre of game, and I do like Disney stuff, but it just never felt right. Elebits was better and that game came out 5 years earlier. I did try the PS3 demo but knew right away that 2nd player - AI character was never going to work.

I'm not holding anything against the Wii U for this one.

Knux

#17

Knux said:

So...is the Wii or PS3 version better? Because I'm still planning on getting it. ;)

WanderingPB

#18

WanderingPB said:

Regardless of the bad reviews the original Epic Mickey got i thought it was a very good and enjoyable game and was very excited when the sequel was announced…Epic Mickey 2 for the Wii U i must say like many others is a rushed game that doesnt really implement the gamepad very well. I would've preferred a choice to use either the wiimote &nunchuk or the gamepad

Off TV play would've been nice. Or even having some puzzles or quests for players to utilize the game pad to achieve a task or goal.

The frame rate is bad at times but if u love this game it wont affect u as much though i truly hope they make a patch because the true fans who bought Epic Mickey 2 deserve it

Ichiban

#20

Ichiban said:

I always thought this looked a bit sloppy before it was released. A real shame though, the potential the Epic Mickey games hold is.....well....epic!

NintyMan

#21

NintyMan said:

This is really too bad. I actually find some enjoyment with this Wii U version, but of course there's flaws. Oswald's AI is my biggest gripe. Otherwise, the cutscenes, music, and atmosphere pulls through for me.

Even if I got the Wii version, I think the AI deal would've still been a problem. Overall, it's a shame that this sequel didn't fully meet potential, especially after making a few improvements to the formula.

Kirk

#22

Kirk said:

Good.

I thought the last game was very disappointing and yet a lot of reviewers and gamers gave it far more praise and attention that it deserved imo.

It seems that people are finally looking at these games without the beer goggles.

WhiteTrashGuy

#23

WhiteTrashGuy said:

Warren Spector stated last summer that EPIC MICKEY 2 was not being ported to the Wii U. And then 5 months later there it is. MASS EFFECT 3 was a year in development and I have it and it runs great. I really hope that the 'secret' Square/Enix game they're porting is SLEEPING DOGS: SE. Looks to me like EPIC MICKEY 2 was a shoddy rush-job from the get-go.

Drobotic

#24

Drobotic said:

Dang,and so much coverage,too.Hopefully,three is actually the charm when Epic Mickey 3 comes around.

Phle

#25

Phle said:

I'm planning to get this game and I was thinking to get the Wii U version. I'm not all that surprised about the score, although I thought it would get about the same as the Wii version. I think I will be able to enjoy the game, but I'm not expecting it to be epic (bad choice of game name Disney or whoever made up that name) anyway. I just want music and nice colors, while I run around painting stuff. Hopefully the story isn't complicated or important (I never remember what happened last time I played whenever I load a save file) and the puzzles doesn't have time limits.

MagicEmperor

#26

MagicEmperor said:

I was very disappointed by the first game on the Wii. I mean, I can understand why it's so beloved and has so many fans, but the thing is I'm the biggest Disney fan I know, and yet I could not turn a blind eye to the awful camera, mediocre gameplay and just how repetitive and bland it all was. :( But, again, I do understand why it's nonetheless very popular; the fact that the game is polarizing is better than if it was universally disliked, I'd wager.

That said, I am surprised this game is considered by most critics to be even worse than the first game. I seriously expected Warren and Junction Point to take the criticisms to heart and really make a better game. scratches head

GreenDream

#28

GreenDream said:

Holy crap, what happened to Warren Spector? He used to be the "legendary guy" who everyone loved for heading the System Shock and Deus Ex teams. He's even said himself, that he so looked forward to putting his best effort into the Epic Mickey series. With his pedigree, expectations were high... but they're mere shadows of his previous work. I wonder if there's a personal reason for this...

Gridatttack

#29

Gridatttack said:

Its sad really. Epic mickey looked nice, and I expected TPo2 to be superior, but its a shame to see how it turned at the end... :/

WaveWarlock

#30

WaveWarlock said:

I'll nab the first Epic Mickey on the Wii someday, but will definitly be skipping on this most haneous sequal. :p The all mighty and wonderful W.Spector Dissapoints again! The same could be said about Power of Illusion...

WaveWarlock

#32

WaveWarlock said:

@Sun

Power of Illusion would of been a lot more tolerable
had they ditched the akward stylus paint mechanic that breaks
the flow of the game...Plus they should of eased down on the character dialogue. A game as slow paced as this doesn't need to be slowed down anymore. :p It needs straight up action like the original Castle of Illusion!

X-Conor-X

#37

X-Conor-X said:

If the game is such rubbish, why do these people rush to get it after reading this review? Are there that many die-hard Disney fans?

Sun

#38

Sun said:

@X-Conor-X Because Epic Mickey 1 was nice except for the disastrous camera which is the worst I've ever played with.

Banker-Style

#39

Banker-Style said:

I got it on Wii because it was only £25,and the Wii U version was £50.
And tbh the Wii version looks fine,on the Wii U.

anthony999

#40

anthony999 said:

I too must say, that I did not like the Wii U version, and so I broke down and purchased the Wii version instead...it is much better...this game is MEANT to be used with the wii-mote and nunchuk....

Deadstanley

#41

Deadstanley said:

In spite of all the negative press on this one, I had an impulse buy because the retailer I got it from had it mislabeled as $9.99 (as opposed to their POS system which said the SKU was registered as $29.99).

I think for that price it was worth it.

DonkeyDolck

#43

DonkeyDolck said:

I will most likely buy the wii version second hand some day. I really love the wii motes to play with.

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