Epic Mickey 2: Vita review

 

Sensibly released at a budget price, this Vita version of last year’s Epic Mickey 2 means that the sequel to Mickey’s Wii exclusive adventure is now available on five different formats. It’s a bit of an odd choice for a late port, especially given the bad-to-middling reviews the original release found itself with. So: Does the passing of time, combined with a low starting price, make this a more attractive proposition?

If you don’t know much about the game, a jolly good starting point would be our review of the original release. If clicking that link sounds like too much hard work though, we’re kind enough to explain things once more. The Wasteland, the land of Toons, is once more in trouble. Earthquakes have been destroying buildings and tearing apart the environment, and the Mad Doctor – the bad guy from the first game – appears on the scene…to help. But are his intentions pure? Can you really trust a man with a beard longer than his face (in control of an army of animatronic creatures)? Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Rabbit have little choice but to accept his help, and find out.

Mickey has a magic paintbrush, and – no, please, don’t stop reading. This magic paintbrush shoots out paint or thinner on the player’s command. Paint repairs the environment, and befriends enemies; thinner wipes (certain) pieces of the environment from existence, and kills enemies off entirely. Though you’ll have to use one or the other at certain points in order to progress, which you use the most is generally up to you. The idea is to present paint as the friendly, ‘good’ option for progress, and thinner as the destructive, ‘bad’ option. One of the benefits of playing this game through for a third time is that we were reminded of how at certain points, your behaviour in this way can even affect the path you take through the game.

Episodes of Mickey’s home makeover show are extremely short.

Oswald is Mickey’s constant companion after the first ten minutes or so. The AI can be somewhat unreliable, and on the Vita is extremely reluctant to do anything at all outside of combat unless prompted to do so via the touchscreen. If your big fat digit misses the icon above the rabbit’s head slightly you will, thanks to the touch option, shoot at Oswald instead (prompting him to squeal an indignant “hey!”). You can have another player take control of Oswald, including online. Playing Oswald with his electricity-shooting remote, however, is somewhat like being the last kid picked for the team. The whole experience is designed around Mickey and his paintbrush, brushing Oswald aside to a supporting role.

As we hinted at, you can shoot via the touchscreen rather than an old-fashioned button if you wish. This doesn’t really work very well, though; your thumb hides the enemy you’re aiming at, who will invariably move about, entirely. Factor in the finite amount of slowly-regenerating paint/thinner, and you’ll quickly stick with traditional controls. Touch controls are actually better than the original for your ‘sketch’ powers, which you need to drag and release to a target. The same can not be said for shooting out the ‘guardians’ you come across after a few hours. Double tapping the rear touch pad, for some reason, never proved 100% reliable for us.

No, it doesn’t look this sharp on the Vita.

These are just minor irritations however – there are more fundamental problems which remain as a hangover from the home console versions. The notoriously fiddly camera is – perhaps due to subtle changes made to accommodate a smaller screen – worse than ever. Righting it is a simple case of twiddling the right stick but, in the middle of a hectic fight, can become a big problem. Aiming remains as stodgy as ever, with the option to lock the reticule to the middle of the screen now missing entirely. A small amount of detail is clearly missing from the retail versions but, as a final kick in the teeth, the Vita suffers from the worst frame rate.

In all other respects it’s still exactly the same game and, as such, has an art design and a string of cameos that will enchant Disney fans enough to fight through to the end. It’s more obvious than ever however that, as a game, it struggles to rise above mediocrity. If you insist on playing this game then you’re better off paying a little more for the now-reduced PS3 version (especially if you have Move) because, let’s face it – if you have a Vita, you also own a PS3.

critical score 5

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He’s the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you’ll find something he’s written in there.

Luke doesn’t have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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