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Disney Epic Mickey - Nintendo Wii
Disney Epic Mickey - Nintendo Wii
Offered by Ocean Reef Electronics
Price: $16.99
216 used & new from $1.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Mickey is, well, epic., May 19, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Who doesn't love Mickey Mouse, eh? It's impossible to not love the little rodent fella - after all, he's one of the world's most popular and most recognised cartoon icons. But let's do a little bit of maths here: what if you take our beloved Mouse, stick him in a game with dark, scary undertones and generally mature themes, what do you get? Why, you get Epic Mickey, of course!
What with over 30 years of constant mollycoddling and affection, Mickey looked set to dominate the carton world. He'd been in everything and conquered them all - cartoons, movies, books, toys, even sweets- except videogames. Sure, he'd appeared in a couple of lacklustre SNES and NES games, as well as a few half-decent Mega Drive ones, but none come close to this beast. Epic Mickey is, well, epic, and we're set to tell you all about it in this review.

The year is 2007. Disney and their mascot Mickey, after many years of love, are starting to take their foot off the pedal. Or, at least, they were forced to by the likes of Mario and Sonic. Yup, it's official - by 2007, it was generally accepted that a certain little red-capped plumber from Italy was more recognisable to young children than our black mouse. I suppose you could say he was overshadowed, kinda forced to take a back seat. Well, Disney wasn't having any of that, and so they teamed up with Junction Point, a third party games company headed by gaming legend Warren Spector, responsible for such hits as System Shocks and Deus Ex (yeah, you won't remember them, that's kind of the point) to create a darker, more adult-ish approach to the already well-established character. Yep. This wasn't just Mickey. This was Epic Mickey. Spector was originally planning to make the game an all console release, but narrowed it down to the Wii at the last second, believing the pointer controls would work best. Predictably, the graphics suffered a bit of a kick as a result, but don't let that deter you from at least giving this game a shot.

The Wii was, quite honestly, the right decision for this game. Let's talk a bit about the story of this game to begin with. Mickey Mouse, out of curiosity, enters a magician's workshop through a portal that mysteriously appears in his bedroom overnight. While inside, he sees the wizard Yen Sid (try reading it backwards...) creating a portal to a world to all things that have been forgotten. Sid leaves the magic paintbrush with which he made the world on his desk, along with two liquids, Paint and Thinner, then leaves to go to bed. Mickey, being the mischievous character that he is, can't resist, and sneaks up to the portal to the world. As you can guess, it's all happy and jolly, that is - until Mickey plays with the brush and gets a bit too carried away, inadvertently creates a monster, kills the monster with paint thinner (or so he thinks), spills an entire bottle of dissolving fluid on the model, and legs it, all in the space of 5 minutes. Oh, did we also mention that the intro and all the cutscenes throughout the game are superbly well animated? Anyway, once Mickey's made his escape, little does he know that the monster that he thought he's got rid of slyly drops into the world portal, dragging an entire bottle of dissolving solution with it, which ultimately ravages the world, destroying it of life, stripping it of colour, killing off the majority of its residents, and basically ruining it. Yes, you heard that right. Mickey Mouse responsible for mass genocide. Bet you thought you'd never hear that, eh? Back to the story. Time passes. Mickey forgets all about his evil deeds, and many years go by. One evening, the monster that Mickey created, now 10 times it original size and bent on revenge, reaches through the portal, grabs Mickey, drags him through the gate and pulls him down into the forgotten world, now known as the Wasteland. Mickey is brought to a dark, desolate, ruined castle, where he smacks hard against the floor and is knocked out. I won't go any further than that with fear of spoiling it, so let's talk about the game itself.

Are, simply put, amazing. The grass looks like grass, the clouds look like real-life clouds, ink looks like ink, fur looks like fur, and in first person view you can truly appreciate every last detail the developers have crammed into the game. Spector has truly squeezed and milked the Wii for all it's worth in this department, so Epic Mickey get a 10 for graphics.

I suppose you could say that Epic Mickey is basically a hybrid of Zelda, Okami, Mario Sunshine, and Metroid. Hmm... it's a Zelamiunshineoid! You use the Nunchuk here, with the control stick moving Mickey around. You use the A button to jump (press it twice for a double jump), the B button to shoot Paint, the Z button to shoot Thinner, the C button to centre the camera behind Mickey, the D-Pad to move the camera around, and that's about it. The 1 and 2 buttons handle pausing. I do have a few complaints here though - the camera is just awful. It's terrible, often outright refusing to centre itself, sending Mickey plummeting to his doom because you couldn't land on a platform because the camera decided you'd rather see a nice bit of scenery than the ledge you're supposed to land on. All the other controls work fine, however, so Epic Mickey gets a 7 for controls.

Epic Mickey is half platformer, half role-playing game. The game essentially asks you to take sides; you have a choice: either be downright evil throughout the game (melting people, ignoring requests for help, killing bosses instead of befriending them etc.) or be a nice, lovey-dovey helpful person who delivers things, helps people out, and makes tough enemies your friend. You are effectively choosing to be a painter or a thinner, with either side offering rewards, although the repercussions for being bad are generally greater than those for being nice. The magic brush that you wield allows you to either create things (paint them in) or just completely erase everything with Thinner. It'll take at least 2 playthroughs to get all the collectibles, however, with some routes being closed off depending on whether you're kind or horrid. There's 72 virtual Disney pins to collect throughout the game (OCDers beware!), so good luck finding them all. One example is that one character requests you to find his lost Ship's Log. If you can be bothered to hang around Gremlin Village long enough and find it for him, he'll shower you in goodies - but, if you leave it behind (or trade it in to a certain Gremlin for a pin) he'll just lock you in a room and lob enemies at you until he gets bored. It's your choice. So, for innovative gameplay and fun, stunning replay value and the urge to continue playing, Epic Mickey gets a 9 for Gameplay.

The music sounds great, all done by an orchestra, Mickey's trademark yelps come into practice throughout, and the sound effects are weird, and, to be honest, quite creepy. For this, Epic Mickey gets a 10 for Sound.

The game's setting is just as awesome as the game itself. You are propelled into this land known as the Wasteland, where all the world's forgotten cartoon characters end up once the world stops watching them and stops loving them. The whole world is basically a massive replica of Disneyland, albeit more twisted, evil, scary and death-trappy. The ruler of this land is Oswald the Lucky rabbit, who used to be Disney's most famous cartoon character before Mickey came along (it's true-Wikipedia it!), and so, understandably, Oswald is a simmering pot of toonish resentment as far as Mickey is concerned. The game's layout is awesome, with many signature rides from the theme parks being twisted to fit the game. If you've ever been on the It's A Small World ride in Disneyland, you'll know that to enter the attraction you walk past a giant clock tower with a grinning, happy face. OK, now imagine that thing with a demonic grin, bent on killing Mickey, sprouting arms with which it proceeds to slam the ground in an attempt to destroy the mouse... surrounded by a pit of thinner, and BINGO - you've got the game's first boss. Now think of Captain Hook off Peter Pan. Think of him being forced through a machine which replaces all his limbs with robotic ones, replacing his brain with a microchip, and effectively turning him into a robot and BINGO - you've got the game's second boss. See what I mean? The whole game kind of has this nightmarish feel to it, which only adds to the experience. The highlight in my opinion is a mountain made of discarded Mickey memorabilia called Mickeyjunk Mountain... how cool is that? You even get to play through old Mickey Mouse cartoons (Steamboat Willie etc.) between levels. The story is also very gripping and emotional, to the point that if Epic Mickey was a movie you'd be happy to just sit back and watch it and never bear a second thought as to what it would be like as a videogame. So, for awesome storylines, awe-inspiring settings and luscious experiences, Epic Mickey gets a 10 for Presentation.

Don't just pass this off as another cheaply made Disney game. It's luscious, complex and rewarding, easily up there with Mario and Sonic. The game is dark, meaning even adults can get a kick from it, and you certainly won't be wanting to toss this to the back of your shelf halfway through. Well done, Junction Point. This is a truly Epic achievement.
+ Awesome story
+ Incredible graphics
+ Original, dark setting
+ Nice music, lovely areas
+ Truly innovative, one-of-a-kind gameplay
+ Tremendous replay value
+ Not just another knock-off cheapo licensed game
- Fiddly camera
- Occasionally imperfect controls
- Dodgy platforming


Hymns to the Silence: Inside the Words and Music of Van Morrison
Hymns to the Silence: Inside the Words and Music of Van Morrison
by Peter Mills
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.41
61 used & new from $17.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant and illuminating book, a must have for Van Morrison fans, January 26, 2011
Got this at the same time as the Greil marcus book and the contrast couldn't be more marked. The latter is a real throwaway effort while Mills' book is a real treasure trove of ideas, connecting Morrison's work, as he tends to do himself, to wider traditions of folk, blues, country and jazz. Sometimes the academic tone is over and above usual writing about pop but it's worth the effort. a superb book and I'd recommend it to anyone who has been moved by Morrison's work.

When That Rough God Goes Riding: Listening to Van Morrison
When That Rough God Goes Riding: Listening to Van Morrison
by Greil Marcus
Edition: Hardcover
92 used & new from $0.01

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Return to Sender . Buy the Peter Mills book instead., December 30, 2010
What an insult to Van Morrison. Sparing, ooh, several hours one afternoon to dash off this first-thought dross, Greil Marcus dismisses decades of interesting work in a line or two. Incredible arrogance and, frankly, stupidity. I got this the same time as the Peter Mills book, Hymns To The Silence: Inside The Words and Music of Van Morrison which is 100 times the book that this is, full of insight and detailed analysis. In comparison, Marcus's book is too much of nothing. Ignore.

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