- Disney fans will enjoy the references
- Some good boss battles
- Looks like a DS game, not a 3DS game
- Paint and thinner mechanics are tedious
- Extremely short with little replay value
As is often the case when a third-party developer releases a major new multi-platform title, the handheld versions of the game are usually completely different to their console counterparts due to the hardware obviously not being powerful enough to handle them. Sony’s Vita can generally handle a straight port with just some minor graphical and technical cutbacks, but the 3DS cannot, so when Disney commissioned Junction Point Studios to create Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two for PC and consoles, they also hired DreamRift to develop Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for the 3DS. If you’ve read our review of The Power of Two then you’ll know that it wasn’t exactly up to scratch, so have DreamRift managed to do a better job with Power of Illusion? Sadly not – unless you’re a Disney fanatic that’d only be playing for all of the Disney references and character cameos (of which there admittedly are many), then you’re best steering clear of Power of Illusion.
As you’ll know if you’ve seen virtually any news articles about the game (Disney have been very much keen to make the following fact widely known), Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is the spiritual sequel to the Mega Drive classic, Castle of Illusion. The two games don’t really share much in common with each other, aside from the fact that they’re both 2D side-scrollers and that the game sees Mickey return to the Castle of Illusion. To sum up the plot, basically the evil witch Mizrabel and the Castle of Illusion have been accidentally transported by a wizard to Mickey’s world – Wasteland. She doesn’t really fancy hanging around too long however, so she’s kidnapped an assortment of Disney characters whose heart power she plans to use to get back home. Cue the arrival of a certain mouse who plans to save the day once more.
Gameplay-wise, things are pretty much as you’d expect really. It’s a traditional platformer in the sense that your main goal is to make it to the end of each level, however DreamRift have attempted to mix things up a bit with the inclusion of the paint and thinner mechanics from the console versions of Epic Mickey. To be blunt the game would have been significantly better off without them, mainly due to the fact that you can’t use the paint and thinner during gameplay. Instead, whenever you want to, say, use the brush to bring an object to life (a platform to allow you to cross a chasm for instance), the action is paused and moved to the touchscreen where you have to take part in a short tracing mini game. Generally it takes around ten seconds or so to finish tracing an object and get back into the game which doesn’t sound too bad on paper, but you’ve got to bear in mind that you’ll have to do this potentially dozens of times in each level. That, coupled with the fact that Mickey moves incredibly slow (there’s no sprint button either), makes for an incredibly tedious experience.
Whilst making it to the end of the stage is the main objective of the game, you’re also tasked with locating and rescuing trapped Disney characters along the way. Throughout the game you’ll come across the likes of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel from Tangled, Scrooge McDuck and a whole lot more besides. I must say that I found the references to other Disney franchises extremely cool, and it’s definitely one of the aspects of the game that DreamRift did get right. The stage environments are also based on locations from Disney films, with worlds inspired by the likes of Peter Pan, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. Shockingly however, that’s it. There are only three worlds in the game, making for a total of just a dozen or so levels. You can easily finish the game in around six or seven hours, and whilst there is a little replay value in going back to find any hidden Disney characters that you may have missed, even that will only extend your play time by a couple of hours as they aren’t exactly difficult to find.
In terms of visuals, Power of Illusion leaves a lot to be desired. To be quite frank it looks like an extremely average DS game rather than a title built from the ground up for the 3DS. Its saving grace could have been a nicely implemented 3D effect, but sadly that’s pretty dire too. Ever played any of the titles from the 3D Classics range on the 3DS’s eShop? Well the 3D effect is similar to those games in that all it really does is push the background out from the foreground to create a sense of depth, but, to be honest, it looks really poor here. It isn’t worth wasting the extra battery power required to fuel the 3D as the sense of depth it provides is miniscule – it just doesn’t add anything whatsoever to the experience.
Audio-wise, things aren’t much better. As you’ll most likely know, one of the things that Disney movies are often renowned for are their soundtracks. From the jazzy theme song of Monsters Inc. to Beauty and the Beast’s stupidly catchy tune ‘Be Our Guest’, there are a countless number of memorable melodies that have featured in Disney films over the past few decades. Yet with all of that golden material to either take from directly or remix and use in Power of Illusion, instead DreamRift has decided to create an original soundtrack that’s dull and utterly unmemorable. It’s a shame because this is one area that Power of Illusion could (and really should) have shined in, but, just as with so many other aspects of the game, the opportunity has been well and truly wasted.
At the end of the day then Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion isn’t the very worst game you could pick up for your 3DS, but it’s by no means even close to being among the best. It’s very much a slightly below-average affair that means it may be worth looking at when it’s on the cheap if you’re bonkers about the Disney universe (though you’re probably better off waiting for Disney Infinity if so), but if not then you should definitely look elsewhere. Similar to last year’s Epic Mickey: The Power of Two, the legendary mouse’s latest handheld effort is just uninspired, dull and immensely tedious. It’s a real shame because when Disney first announced the game it sounded like it had the makings of a genuine 3DS classic, a worthy sequel to the original Mega Drive title, but that’s the power of illusion for you we suppose.