The original Epic Mickey was a cracking little Wii game, one that used a simple painting mechanic for basic puzzles throughout. It was charming, had character, and, having been built around the Wii's control system, was a joy to play (dodgy camera issues aside). The sequel, however, became a multi-platform affair and with that came the possibility that Warren Spector's vision would be spread too thin. Sadly, it has.
Epic Mickey 2 sees the world's most famous mouse returning to the Wasteland, the murky world in which forgotten Disney toons dwell. A massive earthquake has just rocked their home and the Mad Doctor - the villain in the first game - asks Mickey and Oswald to help him sort it out. He approaches them through song, mind you, this being a videogame musical and all (even though the songs are few and far between and are generally Nickelback-bad).
The problem is that Mickey and Oswald decide to sort it out together, which is all well and good when you are playing the game in co-op, but the single-player experience is essentially one annoying, extended escort mission. Each character's abilities are needed for different situations, leading to rather too many irritating moments in which you have to wait for the AI-controlled Oswald to get in position before commanding him to do something.
Remote Controlled Aargh
Even more infuriating is the game's refusal to let you control Mickey with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Considering the first Epic Mickey was built around the ability to point at things and use paint or thinner on them, it's insane that the Wii U version forces you to use the GamePad's right stick instead for some clunky aiming (especially when the PS3 version lets you use its imitation Wii Remote, the PlayStation Move).
Infuriatingly, Oswald can only be controlled with the Wii Remote, even though the weapon doesn't really require any pointer ability. You find yourself dreading combat encounters, knowing that wonky paint controls will make them ten times more complicated than they need to be. Playstyle matters says Warren Spector, but so does basic playability. Power Of 2 forgets this.
It's a shame, because the game has character to spare and a veritable Space Mountain of things to see, do and collect. Each environment is a treat for the eyes (dodgy framerate aside) and it's fun meeting long-forgotten Disney icons and taking on their goofy side missions. Particularly Goofy's side missions.
The one advantage Wii U has over the Wii is the GamePad map. It won't set pulses racing (unless you're a kinky cartographer) but it's the best one we've seen on the Wii U so far, letting you tap icons to locate different areas and hidden items.
It's rare we'll say this - put it down to a lack of launch day readiness - but if you want Epic Mickey 2, pick up the Wii version instead. It may look considerably worse, but the Wii Remote controls make it the best version of a sadly underachieving game.
Epic Mickey 2 isn't a catastrophically bad game by any stretch of the imagination. It's a perfectly respectable effort let down by a cameraman who needs to lay off the virtual booze and a control system that ignores the controls the game was originally designed for. Not a total disaster, then, just a frustratingly flawed effort.