Epic Mickey was a game that fought against itself. Oh, I really, really wanted to fully embrace Warren Spector's love letter to Walt Disney's creations. But the continual struggle against the game's camera meant that the Wii exclusive undercut all its charm with severe control problems.
So I breathed a strong sigh of relief during my E3 demo of Epic Mickey 2 showed a much-improved camera system from Epic Mickey 1. A member of the Junction Point dev team steered Mickey through a single-player portion of the game on a Fantasia-themed level, which demonstrated the new camera features. The need to touch the camera at all looked like it was practically eliminated with smart automatic tracking and the viewpoints reliably swung around any obstacles on the way. Junction Point's building more persistence into the gameworld, too, which means that objects Mickey's paintbrush builds with paint or destroys with thinner will be in the same state if you revisit those levels later on in the game.
When the chance to try out the game's co-op came up, I made a point of playing Epic Mickey 2 on a PS3 station at E3 because I wanted to see what the game look like in hi-def form. A quick run-through of a side-scrolling platformer section showed how co-op play will let two players grab rewards that someone playing solo wouldn't be able to reach. Mickey can throw Oswald up onto higher platforms while Oswald's helicopter-rabbit-ears gimmick lets Mickey catch a ride across larger gaps.
From there, we went to a boss fight against a robotic version of Pete the Dragon—much like one that's appeared The Main Street Electrical Parade in Disney theme parks. The robo-Pete was under the control of the evil Blotlings and the goal was to target the enemies who were in control of the mechanical attraction. I played as Oswald, using his boomer-arm-arang ranged attack—where the rabbit yanks his own cartoon limb off and turns it into a weapon—to strike down enemies that were further away. For close combat, Oswald's remote blasts sparks and has an area attack to give him breathing room. That remote also allows Oswald to control electrical devices and I used to reprogram the console stations that were spawning enemies.
When they get puddled—the globular condition that serves as a near-death state—Oswald and Mickey can revive each other during co-op play. The boss fight also exhibited some play-style flexibility, too, where the battle would progress differently if you chose to paint or thin as your strategy. For my session, the use of thinner revealed the locations where Blotlings assumed control of the robot. Then you'd take those bad dudes out. If you chose to use paint, the evil Blotlings would become friendly, which would stop the attack.
Epic Mickey 2 looked bright and beautiful on the PS3 and its animations were funny and lively in a way that captures the endearing qualities of the half-century of Disneyana. With a camera that works and drop-in co-op that makes the two lead characters equally fun, the game sure looks like it'll be a sequel that improves on its predecessor.