A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Disney Epic Mickey is a dark and often scary adventure story that brings the Mickey Mouse character back into the Disney spotlight. While there's nothing resembling real violence, Mickey does fight inkblot enemies with splashes of paint and thinner. While the tale has dark and spooky overtones, though, it is in the end a story of redemption, with a powerful emotional climax. If young kids can handle the spookiness, they will probably love the story.
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What's it about?
DISNEY EPIC MICKEY is epic indeed. The story starts with a curious Mickey Mouse venturing into a magic mirror, where a sorcerer has created a miniature model of Disneyland (though the park isn't named). With the wizard out of the room, Mickey starts messing around and spills paint and thinner into the magical model. Years later, Mickey ends up sucked into the dark and dismal world of that model. It is known as Wasteland and serves as home to the forgotten Disney characters, including Oswald the Rabbit, who runs the place. Wasteland has also been plagued by the evil Shadow Blot, which Mickey himself spilled into the land years earlier. Now, Mickey must explore and restore this ersatz Disneyland to rid it of its blotster invaders and bring life and color back to its inhabitants. He travels through this land using paint to fix things and thinner to erase as he (or rather as the player) sees fit. The game offers many different locations, numerous platform puzzles, tons of collectibles, and a large cast of characters to meet and help.
Is it any good?
When it comes to story and presentation, Disney Epic Mickey is a phenomenal piece of work. The rich and imaginative tale is full of depth and emotion, and it unfolds masterfully. The animated sequences are brilliant, and one might almost wish Epic Mickey were just a movie he or she could sit back and enjoy. The paint/thinner concept is a great one as well, and there's a nice bit of strategy involved in deciding when to eliminate an obstacle using thinner or to fix it up with a coat of paint. The level designs are delightfully complicated with plenty of hidden nooks and passages to explore, and the many allusions to real-world Disney attractions are fun to spot. Even with some glitchy camera work, Epic Mickey is still one of the best Wii games of the year. Its many innovations certainly outweigh any negative points in the play control. Most players will likely be so enthralled by the adventure that they'll be willing to put up with a few frustrating moments.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Mickey's character development throughout the course of the story. Is Mickey a good role model in the beginning of the tale? Is curiosity a trait to be praised or a character flaw? How does Mickey change by the end of the story? Is he a better or worse role model by that point?
And what about Oswald, the forgotten toon rabbit who rules Wasteland? How does his character change by the end of the story?
Do you like games in which the hero's moral choices are put in the players' hands? When you play a game like that, do you tend to make honorable choices, or do you enjoy the chance to be bad? Why do you choose one or the other?
Parents can also ask their kids if they think commercialism is at work here. While Disneyland is not specifically named or depicted in the game, Wasteland is undoubtedly meant to evoke that theme park. Does playing the game give you any desire to visit a Disney amusement park?
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