Second Impressions: An update from Wasteland

Minor spoilers ahead.

I originally jumped into Epic Mickey without reading any reviews or recent comments; I still don’t really know what the rest of the Infendo crew thinks of the game (according to post comments, I’m on one side of a rift. Really?) The first hours of of Epic Mickey were amazing: As a Disney geek, I got my money’s worth by the time I hit Mean Street.

Many more hours into Wasteland and nowhere near finishing (this game is huge), here’s a quick update before a final review.

I still like Epic Mickey’A lot. But, a few worlds later”¦and considering the near-infinite possibilities of a toon-based world”¦I’m getting a wee bit tired of fixing machines.

What began as novel and ingenious is becoming a bit  repetitious. If this was any other game world”¦any other story”¦I might be tempted to say, “Okay”¦I’m full. Next.”

But that’s the game’s saving grace: This isn’t just another world. The story is involving and even a bit heartbreaking. Running around as a perfectly-animated Mickey is still a hoot. The settings are still amazing. Imaginative villains keep popping up. The spot-the-obscure-Disney-reference aspect just keeps getting better.

I can sum it up like this: Epic Mickey’s story is more captivating than I expected. Epic Mickey’s gameplay is not as consistent as I hoped. Some folks might call the gameplay “meh.” I’d call it “meh +””¦with occasional phoenix-like bursts of brilliance and amazement.

Why do I keeping enjoying this game? Because of moments like this: There’s a point on Mickeyjunk Mountain (which is literally a mountain of real-life Mickey merchandise crappola) when you suddenly realize you’re standing on giant discarded cartridges of NES Mickey Mousecapades and SNES Magical Quest. And it’s beautifully rendered, sad and strange all at the same time. These discoveries keep me going between the outstanding cinemas and terrific side-scrolling pathways.

But, just to prove I’m not completely blind to this game’s faults, let me mention my two favorite broken moments in Epic Mickey so far:

First: I love it when Gus Gremlin makes a big show of telling you to press 1 to see the world through Mickey’s eyes. So, naturally, when Gus is done you immediately press 1 and”¦NOTHING HAPPENS! You soon learn that you can only go to first-person view at certain points. I think I’ve determined the secret: It only works when you don’t need it.

My Second Favorite Broken Moment: When I had to jump sideways to a ledge in Tomorrow City, but kept getting knocked back and injured by an off-screen thinner-spraying villain who remained offscreen, because the camera chose that exact moment to dig in its heels and not budge in any direction at all.

I’ve coped with the camera issue by imagining it as an unseen villain who keeps trying to kill me. In fact, I’ve combined two adjectives and named it Bustard. Bustard the camera.

I still love the paint & thinner mechanic. I still admire the multiple paths through worlds and the fight-or-solve story branchings. The constant backtracking? Not so much.

So, midway through, do I still recommend Epic Mickey? For Disney fans, absolutely. For everyone else? At the very least, rent it. The story might hook you.

I’m just hoping this quest ends with a finale that lives up to the title.

Full review coming soon.

(Note: I just Googled and discovered that the bustard is an actual bird, found in parts of Europe and Asia. I did not know that.)