If it's crap ... We'll tell you
It's been a while since Disney fans like myself have been to the dark world of Wasteland, the alternate Disneyland for forgotten and rejected Disney characters over history. Since then, Wasteland's leader Oswald the Lucky Rabbit has started to grow his fan base out of the nerdy Disney fans origins into one where he has his own float in Tokyo Disneyland and merchandise in Walt Disney World. Hell, I was even able to buy a 10'' plush toy of the little guy, and it's all thanks to the original Epic Mickey.
So it would only be natural that out of the success of the original that a sequel would be made where Oswald would be a playable character with his own unique abilities. And what better place to do this than back in Wasteland with Mickey and the magic brush adding him along the way?
In Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (EM2 from here on out), Oswald and the other characters of Wasteland are fixing up their home after the Blot was defeated and the Thinner Disaster has been resolved when an earthquake strikes the world that's so strong it splits Mean Street into two districts. Shortly after this, the Mad Doctor returns as a changed man who wants to do good and save his home of Wasteland, but also comes with a warning that something bad is happening in a new area known as The Gulch. Even though he recruits Oswald to help him, Gus and Ortesnia (Oswald's girlfriend) don't really trust the Mad Doc and summon Mickey back to Wasteland to help him figure things out.
And that's about as good as the game gets. The main story is very engaging and is a lot tighter than the long and drawn-out version of the original. The use of the official Disney voice cast adds a lot to the overall experience, turning the game into an interactive story. The problem is that the plot is so short! A dedicated player can burn through the main story within 10 hours!! That's kind of disappointing since the original took nearly 4 times as much on a first play-through, and an average of 15 hours if you knew what to do and skipped all the side quests. There is an epilogue to play after the main story, but all it features is a handful of side quests based on the choices made during game play. Nothing too engaging.
Now, I bought the Wii version, so I have no way to review how the other versions play. But as far as the Wii goes, the controls are the same as they were in the original. They only changed a few of the buttons to include new single-player commands that require Oswald for certain puzzles and a new camera feature. (More on that later.) Oswald has his own set of controls, but they are essentially a mirror of how you control Mickey, but with a swap out of what the powers are. This is great for players who are familiar with the original title, but I can only imagine how the game feels for the other consoles.
A lot of the problems from the original title have been fixed. The camera is mostly friendly to you know, readjusting so that you can see clearly now instead of having to do that manually. I say "mostly friendly" because it will still screw you in not showing you where the bottomless pits and thinner pools are as you jump over a gap, despite having room to crane the camera. There aren't that many useless side quests that have no impact on the main quest, but there are side quests that you can do if you want to get the most out of the title. The Pins that you collect from random chests actually serve a purpose now, as they unlock skills or reduce recharge time for powers if you collect a complete set.
One of the fun elements of the original was seeing twisted versions of popular Disneyland locations. Wasteland does provide some new areas, but the focus is on Frontierland and backstage area of the Floatyard where all the parade floats are kept. You'll also revisit a lot of the locations from the original that have changed quite a lot. Bog Easy has rebuilt the inner street of the city and turned it into Blot Alley, a ghetto for the leftover Blotlings that Mickey didn't get rid of from the last game. Ventureland is over run once again by Pirates after being locked out from Tortuga due to the quake. But for as much that has been built up, every area still maintains the broken and rundown design that made the original title interesting. Mean Street is brighter and more colorful now, but it still looks like you are walking down a construction zone.
The big selling point of choice and consequence from the previous title has been greatly improved in the game. Your choices do matter now, and they have a permanent affect on your game. In my first play through, I actually got two shopkeepers so mad at me that they refused to welcome me in their store! And the only way to fix it? Start a new game. Seriously. The game will auto-save at every junction that it presents the player, which happens very often in some areas compared to other areas. And you don't get a New Game+ to see what the game would play like if you went down the other path. Going down the alternative path in an existing game actually makes things WORSE for you!!
Now, I'm trying to be as positive as I can be with this review despite the title. I did enjoy the game. It was more challenging than the original, more focused, and clearly designed for those self-proclaimed hardcore gamers. The first boss fight alone was both epic in scale (Yeah, I used the word. Shut up.) and difficult as FUCK!!
But for all the positives I can think up, there are a lot of problems. The side quests they offer are not required to continue the story, because they are all collection quests that can be turned in whenever the player is bored. This isn't a bad thing, but at the same time it makes these quests unengaging. There's nothing fun about playing a Hidden Mickey version of Pokemon Snap just because you found a character who asked you to find as many as you can. And, yeah, I could fix all the train stations to help me quick travel to the various locations in the game instead of taking the long way, but you don't get to ride the train for free because "fuel is hard to come by these days." In the epilogue when you are exploring Wasteland and dealing with your choices you made in the main story, you can fix and unlock a racing mini-game in Autopia, but there's no real draw to play it. Sure, the boss arenas get replaced with a new mini-boss you could fight, but why bother?
LOADING BAR RATING: Rental
Given how short the main story is and how uninteresting the side quests can be, there's no real reason for anyone to even buy this. EXCEPT if the rumors turn out to be true and that this title is the last game for the Wii console. EM2 did come out when the WiiU launch, and it was also released as a launch title for that console as well. But as an actual game, just rent it for whatever console you own. It helps if you have played the original, but it's not really required.