At first I was fairly impressed: Mickey Mouse saving other Disney characters from an evil witch with a punny name (âMizrabelâ), coupled with the paint system - it seemed like a good mix. Several hours of painting-based gameplay later, not so muchâŚ
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is a side-scrolling 3DS spin off of Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. It takes place in the castle of illusion - which may sound familiar to old folks, as the Mickey Mouse game Castle of Illusion for the SEGA Megadrive featured many of the same enemies and the main villain.
The story is fairly generic â the evil witch Mizrabel has been banished to the Wasteland, so she formulates a plan in which she captures the Disney characters of old - including various villains who serve as bosses â and drops them in her illusionary castle as a means of returning to Toon Land. So, Mickey sets out to stop her and rescue his friends.
Epic Mickey POIâs story centres on a fortress in the middle of the castle. It serves both as a place to acquire quests from rescued characters, and as a shop to upgrade Mickeyâs health, paint reserves, and abilities.
The quests themselves can be as simple as fetching an item from one character to give to another, or playing a level to find the item, which is usually placed close to the levelâs end and within easy reach. As you rescue characters they will return to their rooms â in some cases expanding the fortress by establishing new rooms - and sit tight while you rescue the rest of the cast.
Painting plays a prominent role in gameplay, allowing you to paint objects such as cannons and platforms based on pre-set patterns. In addition, Mickey gains numerous objects to equip and take into levels.
Unfortunately, a few hours in and it becomes extremely tedious. The paint mechanic is overused; even platforms you shouldnât need to paint require it. There are times you need to draw multiple cannons in, and erase several obstacles on the fly. Moreover, you can only use said cannons a few times before they disappear and you have to repaint them so it becomes a repetition of drawing until you manage to get it right. Take away the painting and you are left with an interesting platform title in design alone with the ever-expanding fortress building up to reveal more levels and quests.
On the other paw (get it?), boss battles make good use of the paint and erase features, with various arena hazards such as bombs or nets to delete. Using it is essential, unless you want a long fight. Itâs also good that the game is quite forgiving in stylus accuracy when it comes to painting - you donât need a particularly steady stylus hand to get great results.
Visually, Epic Mickey: POI uses the 3DSâ 3D feature reasonably well, considering itâs a sprite based game. Although not essential to gameplay, it gives some depth to the backgrounds, so stairs and so forth actually seem like they go somewhere else. If youâve ever wondered what a 16-bit title would look like on a 3D display, here it is.
In the end, Epic Mickeyâs âpaintingâ feature was designed to make it a standout title, and to a point it succeeded; unfortunately, itâs not in a good way. There was a lot of wasted potential here. To its credit though, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion looks fantastic.