Latest news
PAX Prime 2012: Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
by Andrew Testerman

Licensed games are often cash-in bits of shovelware that aren’t worth the discs they’re pressed on, but there was a time when this wasn’t always so.

Back during the 8- and 16-bit era, Disney Interactive made a name for itself with top-shelf platformers based on Disney's stable of popular film and television characters, including Ducktales, Chip and Dale, and Mickey Mouse. Developer DreamRift is hoping to remind gamers of happier times with Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, a 3DS platformer starring Walt's most famous creation.

The Disney Epic Mickey series usually has Mickey exploring forgotten realms of the Disney canon, but in Power of Illusion Mickey treks through recognizable properties like Beauty and the Beast and Tangled. Think Kingdom Hearts with less Final Fantasy characters and you’re on the right track. The section of game I played was Peter Pan-themed, and took me from the Darling house to the deck of Captain Hook’s ship.

Gameplay in Power of Illusion is a direct homage to 1990's Castle of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse, though prior experience with the series isn't necessary. Like Castle of Illusion and other other Capcom-developed Disney games from the 16-bit era, Mickey hops and bops his way from left to right through various 2D side-scrolling stages. Jumping is a bit floaty but for the most part Mickey controls well, and gamers disappointed by New Super Mario Bros. 2's willingness to retread old ideas will appreciate Power of Illusion's solid mechanics and unique feel compared to other platformers on the 3DS.

Look for cameos from loads of Disney characters throughout.

Power of Illusion isn’t merely a rehash of the mechanics from Castle of Illusion, though, and brings over the Paint and Thinner mechanics from the other Disney Epic Mickey games. During my playthrough, I came across several areas where Mickey could paint platforms into the environment—in this case, building blocks like the ones found in the Darling nursery. Simply trace the symbols across the bottom screen (the letters on the building blocks) and they appear. Conversely, some obstacles need to be cleared out of the way, and Mickey can get rid of them using Thinner and the bottom touchscreen. The demo started simply, only letting me clear one obstacle at a time, but one puzzle near the end had me dissolve a block to get to a cannon and then draw in a different block to act as my landing platform.

Mickey can also choose from three power-ups before the start of each level, and can activate them by drawing them on the bottom screen. One power-up summons a large block with Pete’s face to smash enemies, while another summons a cane-bouncing Uncle Scrooge from the NES Ducktales game. Power-ups aren’t required to finish levels—I completed two without using them once—but they make progressing past enemies and obstacles easier.

Power of Illusion’s art design looks similar to its 16-bit counterparts but with an added layer of polish, from character sprites moving in a more sophisticated manner than previous Disney platformers to gorgeous layered backgrounds. The 3D, however, is ignoble and unnecessary to enjoy Power of Illusion's presentation.

If you’ve been pining for a fresh, sprite-based platformer straight out of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis days, you’re in for a treat with Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. True to its roots while still continuing to push the series forward, Power of Illusion will please platforming fans and Disney-philes alike. Look for Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion in shops on November 18 in North America and November 23 in Europe.

Labels: , , ,

- Andrew Testerman

Discuss this article in our friendly forums

Sign up to our community today and discuss our articles, debate over upcoming games and organise matches and playsessions with like-minded people just like you.

Liked this? Spread the word - share with your friends!

Done? You might also enjoy these!

All comments are subject to our commenting policy

GGTL Classics
Some of the very best articles dug out from deep in the GGTL archives, written by some of our past and present wordsmiths alike.
Your continued use of this website and/or any others owned by Gamer's Guide to represents your acceptance and indicates your full understanding of all of our legal policies and terms. Our legal policies and terms are legally binding. If you in any way disagree with or refuse to be bound by any part of said legal policies and terms, you are advised to leave this website immediately.