There is a nostalgic appeal to the Epic Mickey series that cannot be denied. Not nostalgia for the golden age of Disney films but the very genesis of film animation and the construction of the Disney Parks from there inception in 1956 to today. Epic Mickey 2, guided by the expertise of Warren Spector, constructs a world built from pieces of Disney history.
The story of Epic Mickey is pretty barebones. The Mad Doctor, who was supposedly defeated in the first game, returns to wreak more havoc on the Wasteland. Mickey is called to save the day again with his magic paintbrush, and Oswald comes along for the ride this time around. A game like this doesn't call for a complex narrative though. The simplicity is typical of any children's game and effectively opens the door for any range of imaginative level design. The story's cutscenes are also given an excellent shot in the arm with the addition of some excellent voice acting plus full-blown musical numbers to give the game a Disney musical feel.
Where the game falls apart though is in the game play. There is a problem that every 3D platformer encounters and must address at some point in its development, and that is camera controls. Nintendo, in a stroke of genius, solved this problem in the Super Mario Galaxy games by having the majority of the levels take place on spheres, meaning that the camera will never have any walls to navigate or to block the player's view of the character. This elegant solution unfortunately cannot be applied to every 3D platformer and Junction Point's previous Epic Mickey game was marred by poor camera controls. Nothing has changed in that field for Epic Mickey 2. Though playing with two analog sticks is much preferred to the stopping and re-centering the camera that Wii players will endure. The camera tends to want to be too close to the ground and seems to always want to get stuck or bounce off of walls. The effect the camera has on a 3D platformer like Epic Mickey cannot be understated either. Adjusting the camera angle to make the perfect jump is one of gaming's great pleasures, and Epic Mickey 2 leaves the player feeling more frustrated than satisfied.
Epic Mickey 2 offers a cooperative mode that allows you to play the campaign along with another friend. This mode makes it infinitely easier to access the game's more interesting nooks and crannies because the AI driving Oswald always seems to be one or two steps behind what you actually want him to do. Playing through the game alone is an unsatisfactory way to experience this vivid world because the inconsistency of Oswald makes it hard to expect him to do anything beyond what is necessary to move on to the next area in the game.
Warren Spector is known for realizing vivid game worlds and Junction Point delivers his vision adequately. Despite the intricacy of the world however and the beautiful High Definition graphics on the WiiU, this game is plagued with all the classic pitfalls of a 3D platformer, issues which, in this console generation, are hard to forgive.