Epic Mickey 2 Preview: The Power of Co-op

epic-mickey-2-preview

A while back, Erica and I got a chance to try out co-op mode in the Wii version of Disney’s Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, the sequel to the critically controversial Epic Mickey. Going into our play of the game, we had three major questions on our minds: Does co-op mode enhance the game? Have the camera controls been improved this time around? Can the Epic Mickey concept keep itself fresh?

Find out our answers to each of those questions by clickity clicking your way inside.

Alex’s Analysis

The demo plops you down in Yen Sid’s Tower, an homage to beloved musical classic Fantasia. You’ll have to find the sorcerer’s hat to awaken his stock of broomsticks before you can progress. As you wander through the workshop, you’ll stumble upon a magic mirror that leads to a mysterious plane where the paintbrush can be found. From there, you’ll have to paint and thin your way through the parallel world to resume your adventure.

On the surface, Epic Mickey 2 feels very close to the first game in terms of visuals and controls. If you’ve played the original, you won’t have to worry about things having changed too much. You still run and jump and double jump to get around; the B button still controls your Paint and the Z button still unleashes thinner. The game still revolves around interacting with various objects using your magical paintbrush to either fill them in or thin them out.

I enjoyed how quickly the game threw dynamic uses of the paint/thinner combo my way. A series of floating orbs can be thinned out from the bottom to send the top half crashing down to the floor below. This allows you to fill the now-missing half back in to create a makeshift platform that you can use as a levitating stepping stone. Nothing groundbreaking, but I did notice that this particular puzzle caught a lot of the demo players off-guard.

It takes a closer look to reveal some of the subtler changes. Perhaps it’s just my crummy box TV, but I felt as though the game offered a richer and brighter color palette, better textures, and more interesting interactions with the objects scattered throughout Wasteland. The camera has been improved, and is designed so that for the most part you won’t have to adjust it at all, but still isn’t quite perfect – I encountered some issues with the pointer not recognizing the object I was pointing it at due to troublesome camera angles towards the end of my play.

The demo put forward a couple moments where how you approached a puzzle made a difference in the rewards you received. Should I repair that wall, or thin it out the rest of the way to grab the treasure chest behind it? These choices have consequences, both positive and negative, and you’ll have to use your judgement to decide what to do. We didn’t get to see this for ourselves, but the game’s creators told us that, unlike the original game, the changes you make to Wasteland are persistent and will remain in place even after you’ve left an individual area. This should work to at least somewhat heighten the level of impact that making those changes has on the world.

Once we entered the game’s first side-scrolling world, the Old Mill, the game let us shift over to co-op play. While two players work together, the game goes into split-screen mode. Play for Mickey is largely the same, except that he can grab onto Oswald for some unique combo abilities. For example, while jumping, Oswald can twirl his ears like a helicopter to glide over the stage – and while Mickey’s holding onto him, the two can travel together. These abilities will remain available even in single-player mode, where Oswald is computer-controlled.

If I had to sum it up, I’d say it’s Epic Mickey with a few improvements – co-op mode sticking out from the rest – and a truckload of new content. If you enjoyed the first game and are hungry for more, this will be right up your alley; if you didn’t like the original, there’s not much here to convert you.

I’ll let Erica describe gameplay as Oswald as well as the demo’s boss battle. Take it away!

Erica’s Exploits

I can feel the pressure.

As Alex said, I didn’t get to join into the game until a few minutes had passed.  For my experience, I was given a special Oswald “remote” nunchuck accessory to play the game.  It is modeled after the remote seen in the game, and it was a rather interesting little bonus for me.

The controls for Oswald are similar to that of Mickey, but at the same time different. Oswald does not have the ability to paint, but instead uses his remote to send electrical charges and attacks.  He stuns enemies, and has to recharge his weapon by picking up batteries. Oswald has another attack that made me laugh as well.  He uses his arm as a boomerang; taking his arm off and throwing it for a long ranged attack.  That’s one way to slap around your enemies!

Oswald doesn’t have the double jump that Mickey has either. As said earlier, he can use his ears like a helicopter to reach farther distances. Mickey has height, while Oswald has distance to make their teamwork even more important.  He can also manipulate electrical devices with his remote, which adds more importance to his character.

After the side-scrolling world, the Old Mill, Alex and I were shown a small cut scene before a rather long and entertaining boss battle began. This boss fight was against a robotic version of Pete the Dragon.  It’s based off of the one that appeared in The Main Street Electrical Parade in Disney theme parks.  It was a three-part boss battle, and I really had to learn Oswald’s abilities in a rather hectic situation.

The boss battle had multiple roads for defeat.  Alex could either use paint or thinner as a strategy, and I honestly was too busy running around and doing my part to really care how he defeated the dragon as long as it went down. We were able to run around on a circular path, with the dragon sitting in a pit of lava in the center.  The dragon would pound on the platforms, causing them to break or shift.  He also had a fire breathing attack, and I had Alex constantly fixing the platforms so we could dodge without falling off.

Disney's Epic Mickey Concept Art JLWTo work together, I could stun the dragon by stunning his hand when he struck the platforms, and give Alex an opportunity to attack the dragon without worry of being hurt.

After dealing enough damage, the top of the dragon’s head popped off to reveal the master controller.  The machine collapsed into the lava, showing only its head.  We continued to attack for a few moments before he disappeared even further into the dragon, and the machine sprung back to its feet to reveal more weapons; including a buzz saw tail.

It was a rather dicey situation, and we had to run away from the spinning blades as well as more spitting fire to avoid being killed.  He would slam his tail onto the platforms, which gave me the similar way of stunning as before.  Alex continued to attack as well, while I did my best to stun the dragon.

When this phase of the battle was done, we thought it was over.  We were wrong though, for the third phase started quickly with the level falling on top of us.  The lava began to rise, and we had to scurry to a higher level where giant metal machines were placed.  Alex had to restore the machines and switches, and I then had to recharge them to set them off and destroy the dragon machine.  They would blow up, and then we would have to move on to another while the dragon and other enemies attacked us.

We were triumphant in the end, and rather pleased with the sequel to Epic Mickey.  I have seen a lot of improvement from the first title, and the addition of co-op makes the game so much more.  I know I will be buying this as well when it comes out, and plan on enjoying it with friends.  As Alex said, if you enjoyed the first game you will love this one.

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two debuts on November 18 for Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC/Mac platforms.

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