REVIEW – Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
A review by Jeremy Hardin
Game – Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
Developer/Publisher – DreamRift in collaboration with Junction Point/Disney Interactive
Version – 3DS
Price – $39.99
Obtained – Review Copy courtesy of Disney Interactive
In Disney’s Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion players take on the role of Mickey Mouse as he goes on a quest to infiltrate the Castle of Illusion and put an end to the evil witch Mizrabel’s plans. The Castle of Illusion has fallen into Wasteland and the evil Mizrabel, an unwilling inhabitant hatches a plan to use the Castle to imprison and drain the cartoon essence from now famous toons to escape. Now, it’s up to Mickey armed with his brush of paint and thinner to fight his way through the castle, defeat Mizrabel and free all the captive toons.
Gameplay and Controls
In Power of Illusion players take control of Mickey Mouse as he makes his way through the Castle of Illusion, freeing captive toons and eventually squaring off against Mizrabel herself. The game begins with a cut scene of Mickey being summoned back to Wasteland by Oswald. Oswald explains that a mysterious floating castle appeared out of thin air and that there were several toons imprisoned in the castle, including Minnie! So, Mickey runs off to Yen Sid’s workshop and “borrows” the magical paintbrush yet again. Mickey arrives in Wasteland at the castle gates and recognizes it as the Castle of Illusion that he has been to before (reference to an older Mickey game.) Once inside, the gates are locked shut trapping Oswald and Mickey inside. Mickey runs into Jiminy Cricket who explains that the evil witch Mizrabel is behind this castle and its illusions. He also points out that there is one safe spot inside this castle, the Fortress.
The Fortress acts as your central hub within the castle. From here, you will be able to explore the wings of the castle, of which there are three. In each wing of the castle the number of levels vary, from 3 to 5 and each level has between 2 and 3 sections in each. Gameplay takes place on the top screen, while the lower screen acts as a map and an interactive paint canvas. As you progress through each level you will find Disney characters, when you reach the characters a brief conversation takes place in which you direct them back to the fortress. This is how a character is saved from Mizrabel’s evil illusions. There is more to the characters presence than simply saving them, but I’ll get back to that in a moment. As you already know by now, you are armed with a magical paintbrush which allows you to use paint or thinner. I mentioned before that the lower screen is a map, but it does more than that. The lower screen also shows the location of trapped characters which are not visible on the top screen. Their presence is visible on the bottom screen in the form of a silhouette of said character. If you touch the silhouette you are then able to paint it in, thus freeing the trapped character. These are the ways in which characters are freed. In addition to showing trapped characters, the bottom screen also shows objects which can be painted into or thinned out of existence. You must make use of these objects in order to reach hard to reach areas, pass impassable roadblocks and in general progress through the level. Sometimes you will even come across a character who isn’t trapped, but once painted in will appear and aid you throughout the level. But wait, you want to know about enemies, yes? Okay, there are many enemies and obstacles throughout each level, although not too much of a variety. Still, these baddies can put a hurting on you if you aren’t careful. Thankfully you have a few ways to defend yourself. Mickey has a spin attack (melee), a projectile attack, which you can shoot either paint or thinner. Shooting paint at an enemy usually results in them dropping hearts. As you progress further into the castle, you will need those hearts. If you use thinner, the defeated enemy will drop cash. Make sure you collect this too as you will need it when you get back to the Fortress. Your last mode of attack is a jump attack which is useful when you want to conserve paint or when you want to reach a high ledge. The jump attack boosts you back into the air a good bit. No matter which way you attack, your defeated foes will most often times drop a paintbrush which will replenish your paint. While not really a mode of attack, you do have a particular item/items at your disposal – sketches. At first you will only have one sketch at your disposal, but eventually you will have 8 and you will be able to equip up to 5 at once. The sketches have various uses, but suffice it to say they come in handy at times.
Now, let’s get back to the Fortress. We already know that freed toons come back to the Fortress, but what is their purpose? Allow me to explain. Each toon will open a new, but quite bare room in the fortress that they occupy. Here in these rooms you can interact with the character, upgrade their room, receive side quests, purchase helpful items (told you to collect that cash) and more. The side quests are fairly simple, but they will need backtracking through levels you have already completed. That’s okay though, because as you progress back through these levels, you can use the sketches to help you reach different areas to complete the side quests. At the end of each wing you will face off against a boss. They aren’t terribly difficult, but some left me scratching my head until I found on YouTube how to defeat one of said bosses.
Controlling Mickey is very easy and the use of the stylus as a paintbrush on the bottom screen works really well. You control Mickey’s movements using the circle pad, switch between paint and thinner using L. You will use R to switch between equipped sketches and X to switch to the bottom screen in order to paint the sketches or anything else that needs paint or thinner. Pressing B will make Mickey jump, while pressing Y will activate his spin attack and pressing A will cause Mickey to fire paint or thinner projectiles from him paintbrush. Oh yes, one more thing. I know you can figure this out on your own, but hold down and press B to fall down from one floor to the next. This is only applicable in certain areas, but you’ll find them early on.
Visuals and Sound
The visuals are abso-freaking-lutely gorgeous and dripping with charm! Seriously people, the hand drawn visuals are excellent and draw you into each level, of which there are many. The character animations are so smooth and fluid looking. The attack animations of both Mickey and the enemies look excellent. Plus, the 3D effect is done really well. The painting and thinner mechanics are used on the bottom screen and you have to either paint an object in or thin it out. The graphics in this part are simple, but good nonetheless. Once you paint an object in, it will transform into a cartoon object and appear on the top screen. Again, everything looks and sounds really good here and I believe you’ll be in for a treat, both visually and audibly as you progress through the castle.
Concluding Overall Impressions
While it is a bit short, Castle of Illusion is brimming with content and fun. With its excellent, hand drawn visuals, fun and engaging gameplay and handfuls of Disney characters and locales Epic Mickey: Castle of Illusion is sure to please Disney fans of all ages.
Final Score: 7 out of 10