Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is a 2D platform game developed by DreamRift and published by Disney for the 3DS. Using the Brush from the other Epic Mickey games, Mickey can change the world around him by painting or erasing objects and creatures on the touch screen.
The story begins with Oswald the Rabbit broadcasting a message to Mickey in order to get his help. Mickey makes a quick stop at Yen Sid’s workshop to collect the magical brush, paint and ink. The Castle of Illusion has returned and is under the control of the sorceress Mizrabel who in this game take on the appearance of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.
The game begins with you being introduced to some of the controls; it assumes jump and the bounce attack are known. It gradually adds more and more elements, letting you learn your spin attack, shooting paint or ink, painting and erasing objects and using sketches. It eases you in but it is the only use of some of the more directed gameplay.
Platforming is more or less the biggest part of the game as the painting element isn’t implemented in a way that sways the entire game. Mickey can defeat his foes in numerous ways; the main way being jumping and bouncing on their heads. Another route to take is firing either ink or paint at a foe, each performing much in the same way but item drops are more likely to be health with paint or currency with ink. You can also use your spin attack to defeat enemies and destroy things to the side or above you.
Painting is all done on the touch screen; you’ll tap the object or the silhouette and either trace the outline or erase the whole shape with your stylus. With painting you are rewarded for keeping in line with the profile awesome being best and bad as the worst. If you score above okay, you are given a little ink back but if you get bad it saps your ink reserve; meaning you may not be able to complete the painting if it runs out. If you do fail, you get all your ink back anyway so you can just try again
Completing paintings will reward you by slightly filing up a gauge that will allow you to enter a state where your attacks are stronger and you can jump slightly further due to being slightly floaty. Perfects and good tracing rewards as you paint making it easier to keep your reserves in check but okay and bad traces can lead to the overall object being of a worse quality. While in most cases this doesn’t really make a differences a few objects are altered slightly. Some platforms may have spikes on one edge, while cannons fire fewer times before disappearing and some objects deal less damage to enemies.
Sketches are your specific, game changing abilities. Before you enter a level you can choose what sketches you take with you; beginning with one choice, you slowly acquire more sketches and up to five sketch slots. The first one you unlock is a moving block that damages anything it hits; including you. Others include: invincibility, platforms and characters that come to your aid. Aside from the one off use introducing Sketches; you won’t ever need to use them. That having been said; you can use them to make life easier or to reach hard to get to areas more easily.
Enemies are mostly fictitious and made up of an assortment of “bad guy” creatures that serve various purposes but there are occasionally some related to the theme of the area. Some levels will contain pirates; others will have sharks and other marine enemies and scattered throughout the differing levels you will see Pete in various forms. Most enemies can be taken out with the easy methods but occasionally there are paintings that make things easier.
As you work your way through the levels in the game, you will come across various Disney characters. Once you’ve found them and finished the level you are on they will return to the Fortress. The Fortress is a safe haven in the Castle that houses these characters and while there they each get a room; occasionally they’ll share with other characters from their films. In these rooms they will give out quests as well as sit around waiting for you to enhance their room. Two characters will also set up stores in their room; allowing you to purchase various upgrades such as health or damage upgrades for certain attacks.
The quests you are given take place in one of the levels that you can already enter. Within these levels you will either find the item or character you are looking for. If you are lucky though; you can get quests that only take place in the Fortress. As you complete quests you will either receive currency or upgrades; all of which cannot be bought and sometime you are rewarded with sketches or slots to hold them in.
The main story isn’t particularly strong; as it sort of runs out of steam very quickly. That is not however the case with all the sidequests and other interactions you have with the Disney characters. Plucked from a point amidst their first appearances (barring the friends of Mickey), they talk about their stories from a point about halfway through their films.
The characters all look as you would expect, the music fits the levels reasonably well and the sound bites for the characters are of a decent quality. Levels blend with different themes: part castle, part Neverland and part Ocean etc, all giving a reasonable aesthetic to the level design.
The game is a reasonable platformer and it’s a real shame that the painting and sketches aren’t used to enhance the gameplay much. Many of the mechanics are never given much use throughout the game; sketches are optional and many areas can be bypassed with few paintings made or erased. Some quests won’t unlock to later in the game or for another reason; because of this you will revisit some of the areas more often than you could ever want to.
A game that has some real love for the characters and worlds Disney have created but falls short with lots of repetition of levels, some clumsy uses of the painting system and a sudden end to the game. It has potential but doesn’t manage to deliver on everything it promises. It does have a bit of a difficulty spike with the introduction of water; as jumping become less fluid and your timing needs to be more precise.
It’s a game that while a lot of effort has been put into making it true to the source material; it doesn’t deliver on what it wants to with the mechanics involved. Painting is fun here and there but the difference between a perfect and okay object is too little to be a problem in all but a few scarce circumstances. Epic Mickey is a series I’d still like to see more of and this brings something I’d like to see expanded on further.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.