Review: Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is the best Disney game in a long time
As a huge, huge, huge fan of everything Disney, all I want is a really good platformer with everyone's favorite mouse. Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion provides exactly that, while serving as a great tribute to Castle of Illusion and World of Illusion. When the evil witch Mizrabel and her Castle of Illusion reappear, Oswald summons Mickey to the Wasteland -- where forgotten cartoon characters are. These characters are disappearing, and it's up to Mickey to enter the castle to find those cartoons, defeat Mizrabel and save Minnie. The story is progressed by a great platforming experience, but not one without its flaws.
The first thing you should know is that despite its cute appearance and the presence of Disney characters -- like Mickey Mouse, Peter Pan, Ariel, etc. -- Power of Illusion is no cakewalk. The level design is superb, and it makes for some truly difficult, yet satisfying platforming moments. There can be those moments where you get stuck dying numerous times in an area, and with no checkpoints, you have to start at the beginning of that area over and over. The levels aren't too long, but this can become quite annoying. Mickey is equipped with a few abilities to dispose of enemies with. Besides bouncing off their heads, he can use a spin move to take them out, as well as fire paint or thinner at them (with each having the enemy drop something different). Unless I need health (from a paint attack), I usually bounced off their heads, and if you wait to use your bounce until the last second, you'll bounce off them higher, gaining access to secret and tough-to-reach areas.
The castle is divided into four wings, each being based off of a different Disney franchise -- Peter Pan, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King. Each have a unique feel and elements to them. For instance, the rooftops of London for the Peter Pan levels features a lot of jumps, and later in that wing, cannons on Captain Hook's Jolly Roger fire at you. Aladdin will have you facing off against the sword-wielding guards of Agrabah. And The Little Mermaid levels have your jumps making you float a little more (since you're under water), with tight tunnels and drops, as well as floating jellyfish enemies. The game does an excellent job of easing you into the difficulty, as each themed wing gets progressively more difficult and expects more out of you.
As previously mentioned, the Epic Mickey paint brush aspect is present, and this is where the 3DS touchscreen comes into play. The bottom screen shows outlines of objects across the level, and objects already covered blue. With the outlines, you can tap on it and trace that outline with the stylus using paint make that object appear in the game. This is also how you find characters -- like Wendy, Peter Pan, Goofy, Donald, Aladdin... the list goes on. If you want to get rid of an object -- like a cannon that keeps firing you up in the air when you're trying to drop down -- tap on it and use the thinner to erase the object's shape, making it disappear in the game. You get graded on how well you do these, and that will determine a bonus for you (amount of time where you can jump higher, get paint and thinner back, etc.). Most of the time, you'll be doing these to add a block to jump on, get rid of an obstacle, rescue a character, or help defeat a boss. The Jafar fight especially uses this mechanic.
The problem with the paint and thinner aspect is that it gets really repetitive -- and quickly. You're constantly tracing or erasing the same objects to the point where it feels more like a chore and you just want to get on with the game. The most annoying ones are where you have to use the thinner on something, and then paint it to have it come back. After a while, it just puts a lull to the great platforming that is present.
Rescuing characters with the paint brings us to our next big portion of the game. When you rescue a character, they're sent to a saft spot in the castle known as The Fortress. Think of it as a hub. Each character gets their own themed room based on the film they are known for. By visiting them, you can unlock quests, which have you either visit other characters in the fortress or revisit an already-played level to find an object. You get rewards for these quests, like money and stars to upgrade each character's room. There's also a nice, little character progression element to the game. Characters like Scrooge McDuck set up shop in The Fortress where you can buy upgrades for Mickey's paint or thinner brush -- like how much you use -- upgrade his health, or his attacks. Also, before each level, you choose which sketches (kind of like a loadout in a Call of Duty) you want to use for that level. Sketches are characters that come to your aid by performing different actions, or objects like a block that falls on enemies. Simply tap on the sketch you want to use and then trace the outline.
I did get annoyed a bit with the questing. Whenever a quest popped up, I wanted to complete it. You can ignore the quests and just continue the main story, but I just felt that I had to do them. I mean, when Jasmine asks you to find Raja, you don't say no. But after beating some levels, especially those that have a difficult part where you died repeatedly, you don't really want to replay them. I just wish that the quests were for a level coming up, or one that I am about to go to.
Visually, the game has an awesome hand-painted look to it that looks and feels like Disney. It's all reminiscent of the two games that inspired it, Castle of Illusion and World of Illusion. The music brings a Disney charm to the game, and you'll hear certain sounds and words from characters that they've become known for.
Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is a great platformer that fans of the Sega Genesis games that inspired it will love. It has some elements that prove to be repetitive and tiresome over time, but ultimately, the platforming and action is too good to hold Power of Illusion down.