Oh, Mickey and Oswald. I wish I could quit you… nah, nevermind.
I didn't know how much I actually knew about the magical world of Disney until I was at Disney World a few weeks ago to preview this game. We were all told to meet at the "giant birdcage" in the lobby of the hotel, and after looking at it for a split second, I realized it was actually the "lucky cricket" cage from the movie Mulan. From then on, I should've figured I was in for a big-eared ride. And then they showed me Power of Two, and I was surprised all over again.
With something happening in Wasteland, Mickey is called on once again to wield control of both paint and thinner to fix or destroy the world to solve puzzles, discover tools, and even unlock new outfits for both Mickey and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (as soon as I could, I had them wearing "Steamboat Willy" attire everywhere). Between searching for unlockable threads for the clothing shop, finding different pins scattered throughout, and completing all of the minor quests to help townspeople, Power of Two can be a lengthy experience.
I've always had a little trouble with three-dimensional platform games, but Power of Two's levels aren't too much trouble. The controls are exactly what to expect: On the PS3 and 360, the left analog stick is for movement, the right is for the camera, and the triggers are for either paint or thinner. And that paint and thinner comes in handy outside of fighting enemies and solving puzzles, mostly in creating platforms and thinning to uncover hidden items.
The Wii (and the PS Move, if you're into that sort of thing) uses the D-pad for adjusting the camera and the analog sticks for movement, and just pointing the applicable remote to the screen to aim and fire either thinner or paint. And it works. I don't really have a good joke for that, it just kinda… works.
Pins are pretty much everywhere, and to be honest, they don't really… do anything. They're just for the sake of collecting them, like the people who collect 'em in real life. But the ribbons and costume pieces scattered throughout are pretty cool, representing different eras of Mickey's existence and branching some of those out for Oswald as well. Since both pins and ribbons—especially ribbons—are all over the place and easy to find, they're almost a "notable" part of the game. They're fun to unlock and dress up with, though.
Since this is the first Epic Mickey that's fully voice-acted throughout, I just have to say I've heard better. Don't get me wrong, the voices are mostly fine, but there are a bunch that can really grind your nerves. Ortensia stands out as a character that's just adorable, and yet I wish Amy from the Sonic universe could smash her with that massive hammer. Other minor characters are a little generic, like they came straight out of any other story in the kids game pantheon. For just about any child-oriented game, I have to hold the voice-acting to the Toy Story 3 scale, and this just doesn't stand out.
But it sure is gorgeous, so that makes up for some of the bland bits. Hell, it's even pretty on the Wii version, though notably watered down overall, especially in the paint and watery bits… which is disappointing for a game that centers around paint. Go figure.
The game is technically a multiplayer experience, but really, it's more like an exaggerated version of Sonic 2. A second player can drop in and out easily to play as Oswald (or Tails, as we could call him) to help with puzzles and the occasional "falling off the small platforms that require teamwork" sections. I swear, as an AI character he's so slow in figuring what you might want him to do and falls to his death more times than I care to count that I started simply using thinner on him to get him to go away when he wasn't necessary. He makes a better melted puddle than he does a sidekick if you don't have any friends around to pick up the controller.
But akin to everything I heard about the first Epic Mickey, it's the camera that's a notable problem here. It's not bad 100% of the time, except for the occasional self-adjustment in a corner or certain claustrophobic spaces, but where it gets frustrating is during the later battles that require a certain view. I remember fighting a mechanical boss that shot thinner throughout the area, opening up spaces on the ground I was running across, and the camera kept adjusting to a "flat with the ground" view that not only screwed with my aiming at the boss itself, but I couldn't see the possible open floor I was running over. With many platformers this would be a pain, but it's even more so when I have to be aiming at the boss, then the floor, then the boss again… and no way to "fix" a possible view so I can focus on the battle instead of where I'm running.
Except for a still-finicky camera (and Oswald being an adorable pain in the ass), I really enjoyed Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. The Rainbow Caverns stage is one of the prettiest I've ever seen, the animation style for the cut-scenes is simply beautiful FMV, and the puzzles—while not terribly difficult—are fun to solve. It's a bit more work than one should expect as a kids game, but it's really designed for adults looking to recapture some of that childhood Disney fun, and it does the job well enough. Not perfect, but not a terrible way to spend time in front of the TV.