When a great opportunity falls in my lap, I’m not one to say no, so when we were asked if we’d like to give the new video game Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two a whirl, my kids and I remembered how we’d spent many hours exploring the dark Disneyland doppleganger Wasteland in the first Epic Mickey adventure and said “you bet!” The game — for the Xbox 360 — arrived a few days before Thanksgiving, so the break was a perfect time to hook everything up and give it a try.
Those of you new to my blog might not know that during regular school weeks our video game systems (Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360) are packed up and hidden in the closet. No video games during school, and not even TV or movies during the school week itself. Works for us, helps avoid that 7-hours/day average the kids now sit staring at screens. Seven Hours. Per Day.
Anyway, the Xbox is primarily the domain of my 12yo son G- and his favorite games to play are Madden NFL Football, Need for Speed and Halo Reach. Tough competitors for Epic Mickey 2, no doubt, as they’re very different sort of games and have a lot of action but precious little story. He’s also achieved a considerable number of milestones and levels since owning an Xbox 360. In particular, he’s quite a menace in Halo!
But still, we wanted to give Mickey Mouse a fair shake, so we inserted the game disc and were immediately impressed by the gorgeous HD graphics. It looks stunning. You can see that in the screenshots I’ve included in this post. The visuals are just terrific!
Since we’d played the first game extensively, we knew that Mickey’s paintbrush was his weapon and that even the most unlikely area can dramatically transform with the wave of the brush. We quickly moved off for some exploration and adventure. The problem with the game, though, is that there’s not much of a back story (even though the Wasteland setting should be quite rich) so the purpose of our quest was a mystery. It was exploration for exploration’s sake, as far as the kids could tell.
My 16yo was most engaged by the original Epic Mickey game and as someone who knows the layout and rides at Disneyland pretty well, she was also enthralled by the twisted neo-goth of Wasteland. This same design sensibility, with everyday Disney imagery deeply twisted and sometimes even macabre was terrific, but that was only interesting for the first few minutes, then, like many exploration games, it seemed to become boring to the kids and their attention started to wander.
While we had the best of intentions on jumping in and really enjoying Epic Mickey 2, since my kids knew that they only had a finite amount of time to play video games, it didn’t take very long for them to start lobbying for other games that they already knew. My son wanted to switch to Halo and my girls wanted to switch to Sports Resort on the Wii.
We’ll doubtless explore Epic Mickey 2 further as the weeks go on (and particularly around the Christmas holidays) but I have to say that while it’s beautiful, the game certainly wasn’t engaging, and didn’t pull us into either the story or the initial quest, whatever it may be. Might that change if we spend more time in the game? Undoubtedly. But for now, even with Mickey and his buddy Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, we didn’t find it a compelling experience.