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Mickey returns to his 2D roots with Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. My Impressions So Far.

As a huge fan of the Sega Genesis platformer from 1990, Castle of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse, I was very eager to get my hands on Disney's new "spiritual sequel" to the iconic Sega platformer. I was quite excited to play the demo back at PAX Prime 2012, but I was met with initial dissapointment. "What have they done to this series?" I thought. The game introduced touch screen mechanics that task you with erasing and filling in objects in the world. The painting aspect really seemed to slow down the gameplay in the demo, constantly having you stop to draw in or erase objects. As we all know, you can't judge an entire game based on a demo, so despite my initial displeasure with the game, I decided to keep my pre-order. It was one of the best decisions I made this year.

There are tons of familiar Disney characters to meet along your quest.

After spending over 2 hours with the game today, I am much more appreciative of what Power of Illusion has to offer. It is a slower paced platformer, yes, and it is text heavy when you are in the fortress, the games central hub world, talking to characters. However, there is something quite addictive about leveling up your strength and abilities through the side quests that gives the game a great sense a sense of progression. There are even "support" or "summon" type Disney characters you can use to assist you during combat, most of which are earned by doing these optional side quests.

Since the main complaint form many people about Power of Illusion seems to be the painting, I want to address it. There is a demo on the Nintendo eShop that gives you access to the tutorial portion of the game. The demo has an over abundance of the paint and thinner aspect in order to to get you used to the mechanic; it's a tutorial, so there is more of it than normal. In the actual game, it is used a bit more sparingly, and in some cases, invloved in some clever puzzle-oriented ways.

Once you learn how to properly use the paint and thinner to charge up your meter, it makes a lot more sense. Chaining together two or three painted or thinned objects in quick succession turns Mickey into a speed running powerhouse, which is the equivelant to say, Super Sonic the Hedgehog. It's very satisfying, to say the least.

The environments are richly detailed and very colorful.

In regards to there being only 4 "worlds", you must realize that each world has a variety of incredibly beautiful, diverse and detailed environments. Each makes use of multi-layered backgrounds that look stunning with the 3D turned on. The graphics are nothing short of amazing for a 2D platformer, I would argue this is the best we have seen yet on a handheld. The levels, while linear, offer many hidden secrets and paths that take some planning and skill to reach.

Musically, the soundtrack is a treat. It is composed of brand new tracks and some really nice surprises thrown in for Castle of Illusion fans. Voice acting is kept to a bare minimum, highlighted only by short grunts and words at the beginning of most sentences.

The story is weak, simple and boring -- so far. I doubt it will pick up, but you are most likely not playing this game for the story.

The gameplay packs a punch in the form of tight controls and Mickey's bounce attack. Everything feels just right and the controls to me are not too floaty or stiff. When landing multiple perfect but bounces in a row, it always feels great thanks to some really impacting sound effects. This is achieved by hitting the jump button a second time right before landing on an enemies head.

So after spending about two and a half hours with the game so far (I just made it to the second world. I did all of the sidequests leading up to this as well), I can highly recommend this to fans of platformer games. Just do not go in expecting a 100% remake of Castle of Illusion, and you may come out pleasantly surprised.