Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (for 3DS) review

Disney's Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion tries to be a call back to a Sega Genesis classic, but it loses its appeal with its limited environments and unnecessary touch screen mechanics.

Disney’s Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion for the Nintendo 3DS is a throwback platforming game that recalls Capcom’s 1990 Sega Genesis classic Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. Mickey is called back to the Wasteland, the world of forgotten Disney characters from the original Epic Mickey, to rescue Minnie from Mizrabel, the witch from Castle of Illusion. Mickey has to fight through several wings of the castle, each of which represents lands from Disney movies like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Peter Pan. As Mickey fights through the different levels, he rescues characters and takes them back to the Fortress, an area in the castle where Mickey can upgrade his abilities and talk to characters for hints.

Retro Looks
The game looks like it came straight out of the 16-bit era, offering some of the best graphics ever seen from that age. The action is side-scrolling and sprite-based, and while the resolution is low enough that pixels can be clearly seen, the animation is as fluid as the best Disney games that appeared on either previous system. The backgrounds are lush and show depth thanks to the 3DS’ screen, but like so many side scrolling games on the handheld the 3D effect consists almost entirely of the background appearing further back and the foreground appearing closer, with no real interactivity between the two planes.

Action feels like the original Castle of Illusion with a splash of Epic Mickey’s paintbrush mechanic thrown in. His magic paintbrush lets him paint “sketches” by drawing outlines on the touch screen or erase them by scribbling over them, which can create useful objects or remove obstacles like platforms and enemies. It’s an interesting idea at first, but it quickly wears out its welcome by the time you draw the tenth sketch in a row. It throws off the platforming rhythm of the game, which could have felt smooth and entertaining if you didn’t have to draw or erase things every minute to move on. The sketch mechanic gets some credit from me because of one sketch of Scrooge McDuck in the game. You can summon him in battle where he uses his cane as a pogo stick to jump on enemies, a nice nod to Capcom’s Ducktales game.

Small Game
A handful of wings in the castle offer limited environments to explore, and the illusory worlds of Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Peter Pan quickly wear out their welcome. Unfortunately, there aren’t many locations besides those three worlds, each with less than ten levels. You can come back to the levels as much as you want, and side quests in the Fortress will have you do just that. The side quests almost always involve playing through the level again and finding a specific character or item, and there’s nothing new or fresh in each additional playthrough. Other side quests are even more tedious, forcing you to run between different characters in the Fortress to talk to them and then return. The side quests have few useful rewards, and feel like they’re just trying to pad a game that doesn’t have much to offer.

Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion had a lot of potential to be a callback to the classic Genesis game, but a lack of variety and stilted gameplay keeps it from being a nostalgic must-have. The constant sketching and erasing and the repetitive side quests make the game feel like it’s a downloadable game desperately looking to justify its physical release. If the game was a $10 release on the 3DS eStore and stripped out the side quests and touch screen, it could have been a memorable, inexpensive romp any retro player would want. As a $40 retail game, though, it just doesn’t hold much magic.

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Specifications
Genre Action Games
Platform Nintendo 3DS
ESRB Rating E for Everybody

Verdict
Disney's Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion tries to be a call back to a Sega Genesis classic, but it loses its appeal with its limited environments and unnecessary touch screen mechanics.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc