When Disney Interactive hit the Electronic Entertainment Expo show floor a couple of weeks ago, one of its biggest draws was undoubtedly Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two.  Featuring a new two-player co-op set-up as well as the series’ introduction to new platforms (specifically the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), it became a huge draw for players. 

By no means should you forget about Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, a game that’s in the works for the Nintendo 3DS.  What it lacks in big-budget 3D flash, it makes up for with simplistic 2D classic platforming gameplay and plenty of artwork-powered splendor in its own right.  This is one you won’t want to erase so quickly.

The game follows up in the tradition of the classic 1990 Sega Genesis game Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, which was produced by Sega.  As Power of Illusion starts up, the Castle reappears within the Wasteland, where forgotten characters dwell and await their fate, with very little control to them.  The witch that Mickey managed to confront, Mizrabel, is seeking a way out, and she’s managed to find one by sabotaging favorite characters throughout this miserable world.  In order to set things right and restore these characters back to these classic selves, Mickey must venture into the castle and set the right things right.

The game features various characters from the Disney lexicon who will appear throughout.  Minnie Mouse once again makes a return, as the love of Mickey’s life. In addition, the Beast from Beauty and the Beast shows up, along with Jiminy Cricket and Rapunzel from the 2010 computer-powered animated remake Tangled. Villains also make an appearance, powered by Mizrabel and forcing Mickey to face off against them until he can break the spell.  These include Peter Pan’s Captain Hook, as well as Jafar from the Aladdin series.

As you unlock more characters within the game, you’ll earn more quests, ones that tie in with their particular character.  Scrooge McDuck, for example, may require you to hunt down his lucky dime, the source of his exquisite fortune.  Doing so unlocks further sections of the game, as well as bonus goodies.

Power of Illusion’s combat techniques follow the same pattern as the classic Castle of Illusion.  You jump on enemies in order to eliminate them, but it’s a two step process.  You first have to launch into the air in order to initiate the jump, and then hit the button again to prepare your butt to bounce off the enemies.  Failing to do so will cause you damage, so do it properly.  Also, if you successfully bounce off an enemy while holding the jump button, you’ll launch higher in the air – perfect for reaching hidden platforms.

In addition to platforming, Mickey will also utilize his Epic abilities when it comes to crafting the world around him.  He’ll be able to use both paint and thinner in various parts of the game, both of which come in handy.  For instance, with thinner, you can destroy walls and other objects that you just can’t seem to get past, while with paint, you can create bridges and accessible pathways that you couldn’t before, making your way further into the game.  Erasing and creating has been a vital part of the Epic Mickey series, and Power of Illusion is no different.  Plus, using the touch screen, you’re able to pick and choose your objects much easier, without worrying so much about precision aiming with an on-screen reticule.

Paint and thinner can also be thrown, if you wish to eliminate a barrel thrown at you with paint, you can throw the opposite element, thinner, to counter it.  You’ll run out on occasion, but the game features various refill points, so you can always get more.

                 

Another benefit to rescuing characters is collecting stamps.  There are some that are available in general over the course of the game, but specific ones grant you special abilities that will help you over the course of the game.  For instance, if you grab a sorcerer’s hat (like the one Mickey used in Fantasia), you’ll have temporary invincibility, ideal for getting through a large field of enemies.  Let’s just hope that Scrooge McDuck’s allow us to use his cane to get across some spiked floors.  You know, like in DuckTales…?

Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion may not use powerhouse 3D visuals, but they look spectacular in the 2D world, with plenty of stupendous graphic effects that take advantage of the system, traditional hand-drawn animation and plenty of personable touches that really make the Disney art come alive.  This is one startling looking effort we can’t wait to see.

Come November 18, Power of Illusion will release alongside Epic Mickey 2, and though that console effort will get more attention, this retro-fitted platformer deserves its own recognition.  Let’s see Disney put some promotional push behind it, it’s certainly worth it.