Epic Mickey – so much imagination and yet so little imagination.

I wanted to love Epic Mickey…..maybe more than any other game in recent memory. I’m an unashamedly huge fan of all things Disney and was hugely excited when the news broke that Warren Spector was developing a videogame based on the exploits of one Mr Mouse. I mean, c’mon, this is the guy who made Thief and Deus Ex. Surely – if Warren Spector was involved in a Mickey Mouse videogame, he must have had something pretty special planned.

And something special is clearly what was planned; the early concept art released pointed towards a creative approach to the Mickey Mouse license that oozed imagination and suggested a brave new take on arguably the most recognizable face on the planet.

Things got even better when the first glimpses of gameplay were shown. An innovative painting system that pushed forward the explorative 3D sections of the game showcased a seemingly brilliant use of the Wii hardware while the 2D platforming sections suggested a fantastic method to get the very best out of the Mickey Mouse license. Needless to say, Epic Mickey was looking pretty freakin’ special.

Then the game was finally released……and it all went a tad pear shaped. Despite the games outstanding visuals, sky high production values and fantastic use of the Mickey Mouse license, the actual gameplay holding this visual tour de force together turned out to be….well, for lack of a better word – garbage. Although home to a few moments of brilliance in which the games visual genius are matched by tight gameplay mechanics and inventive level design (the Tron inspired boss battle being a standout moment), for the most part, Epic Mickey’s mechanics, level design and mission structure feel like they were ripped wholesale out of the 1998 edition of how to make a platformer.

The missions in particular are hugely unimaginative and at times downright unforgivable – honestly, it beggars belief how many fetch quests are involved in this game. Despite the obvious opportunities for inventive mission design, the fact of the matter is, Mickey is relegated to the level of delivery boy for a large portion of the adventure due to the sheer lack imagination on the part of the development team. To make matter worse, the basic controls are spongy and unresponsive and while the use of the Wiimote to add and remove paint from the environment was a great idea on paper, its implementation is consistently infuriating due to a combination of its limited effectiveness and the awkward and inaccurate aiming of the Wiimote.

Worst of all though has to be the camera. Even if you can see past the lifeless objectives and infuriating controls, I’d be amazed if anyone could come away from Epic Mickey without aiming at least a handful of f-bombs towards the twitchy, awkward and often downright terrible camera. Be it battle, exploration or platforming, this camera will go out of its way at every possible turn to make life as difficult as possible for you – honestly, we’re talking Sonic Adventure bad here. The only positive I can take from it is that it reminds me of just how great the camera in Super Mario Galaxy is – A good camera system will often go unnoticed but by God, Epic Mickey once again proves that a bad one can all but ruin a game in its entirety.

Epic Mickey isn’t the worst game in the world, not by a long shot, it’s just so utterly, unforgivably disappointing. Epic Mickey could and really should have been one of the Wii’s standout exclusives, instead, it represents one of the biggest missed opportunities of the generation. Visually and in concept, Epic Mickey is everything I could have wanted it to be but as an actual videogame, it’s a bit of a disaster. Don’t get me wrong, there is enough to Epic Mickey to suggest that a sequel could be something very special indeed but for the time being we’re left with a raft of broken promises and only half of the game we all wanted to see.

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