Earlier today I was able to spend some time playing the Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion demo. How did my experience with the game measure up to my expectations? Well, they fell a tad bit below my expectations.
The demo begins with a few comic style stills that shed light on the plot. Oswald contacts Mickey and informs him that a large Castle has appeared in Wasteland and that many cartoon characters are being abducted, including Minnie Mouse. Mickey grabs the magic paintbrush and heads back to Wasteland, while Minnie Mouse enters and wonders what happened to Mickey, the game’s first twist. Mickey arrives in Wasteland to find Mizrabel awaiting his arrival with what appears to be an illusion of Minnie. Mickey then sets off to rescue Minnie and the rest of the Disney cast.
After a longer than expected opening, which features a cinematic soundtrack, you get to play the game. Mickey controls like many platform heroes before him, which is a good thing. His movement feels great and the jumping feels solid. You jump with B and need to press it again to stomp on enemies otherwise Mickey will get damaged, an interesting choice that I believe is brought over from Castle of Illusion. You will be doing a lot of standard platforming in the game, but you do get some unique abilities to experiment with.
As you know, Mickey has also brought the magic paintbrush with him which means you will be using the paint and thinner mechanic quite a bit. The paint and thinner mechanic is used more sparingly in this game, at least early on. At certain points you can switch to the touchscreen, comparable to Okami/Okamiden, and use the paint to trace objects to make platforms appear, and the thinner to make them disappear. The tracing itself is a bit bland, but the possibilities for the mechanic as a whole are exciting.
Of course, there are more things to interact with, like a Thwomp inspired enemy that features the face (and voice) of Pete. You also get a sketch power-up that allows you to activate certain powers using paint, one of which happens to be Thwompy Pete. There’s a moment where you have to use Thwompy Pete to destroy an enemy that’s out of reach to open a path. I’m excited to see more of these sketches and how they affect the puzzle element in Power of Illusion.
You can also throw globs of paint and thinner at your enemies by pressing A. You can switch between the two with L, but each has a meter so you will need to pick up paintbrush items to refill the desired power. You don’t have to rely on the paintbrush though as Mickey can also use a spin attack to defeat enemies.
You will also need to find and rescue plenty of Disney characters which are scattered around each level. The rescued characters go back to a place called the Fortress. After rescuing characters they each settle down in their own room. Sometimes the characters will have quests for you which are mostly item fetch segments. You may have to run to another room and retrieve an item from another character, other times you can find the item in one of the game’s levels.
Rooms can also be upgraded but it doesn’t seem to affect the gameplay much, other than the upgrades you can buy from Scrooge’s shop. In a way it feels like the Fortress is a tactic to increase your playtime, but I can sense that it may affect the ending depending on your involvement in the quests. This may be good if you need to see all of the 20+ endings, but might seem a bit lackluster to those that just want to play through the levels.
While the platforming and story are good, I wasn’t blown away like I thought I would be. The gameplay isn’t bad, but I was expecting a more creative and exciting outing. The level design and challenge are underwhelming, granted, I only played a small portion of the game so there’s plenty more waiting to be experienced. I’ll still be a buyer when the game is released because it’s shaping up to be a good platformer, and everybody knows I like a good platformer.
One last tidbit I should mention are the graphics. Power of Illusion is a gorgeous looking game with awesome sprite work and art all around. Also worth mentioning are the 3D effects, and even though I’ve said this about five or six times now, layered 2D platformers look awesome in 3D, this game is no exception.
Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion will be available at retailers (and in the Nintendo eShop) on November 18, but you can check out the demo on the Nintendo eShop now.