Disney Epic Mickey is both one of the Wii's most impressive titles, and a slight disappointment. It's a game that draws you in to its fantastically-created cartoon world, yet it tries to push you away with a terribly troublesome camera and laborious fetch quests. On the one hand it's an excellent 3D platformer with its origins firmly rooted in the classic Mario 64 period, while on the other it's a by-the-numbers RPG for complete novices. In the end it gets away with a whole string of flaws thanks to some genuinely excellent level design, a neat painting mechanic, great characters and the option to tackle events in numerous ways.
Mickey Mouse is one of Disney's most famous creations, but what happens to those that don't make it, the forgotten characters? Disney Epic Mickey deals with this idea, with Yen Sid from Fantasia creating a world for them to live in. Once he's finished painting the sorcerer lays down his brush, but things soon take a turn for the worse: Mickey enters the chamber through a magical mirror, messes about with the paint and thinner, and ends up creating an evil creature known as the Shadow Blot. The spilt thinner ravages the idyllic world, turning it into a wasteland, and the previously-happy inhabitants are forced to live with nasty creatures.
The chief inhabitant of the Wasteland is Oswald, an early Disney creation who is resentful of Mickey, not only because of his fame but also his heart: the Wasteland residents are heartless, so Oswald attempts to steal Mickey's, allowing him to return to the real world and trapping the famous mouse in the hellish dimension. Years after the thinner disaster, the Shadow Blot pulls Mickey into the Wasteland and Oswald's plan is put into action. Mickey, of course, has other ideas.
Mechanically, Mickey's set of basic moves are very similar to Mario's in his latest planet-hopping adventures; like the Italian plumber, he can jump, double jump and spin into objects. When the camera actually does its job the platforming on offer here is excellent, with the environments bringing back memories of Rare's output in the nineties. But the camera doesn't always behave, and with only a single analogue stick you're left to try and centre it with the C button on the Nunchuk, or else to fiddle around with the d-pad. Camera issues here aren't as bad as in some titles (Sonic Adventure, this is not), but you'll certainly suffer death and annoyance at its hands.
There are also echoes of Mario Sunshine here, with Mickey able to spray both paint and thinner over the game world. Paint rebuilds and colours washed-away environment objects, while thinner removes brightly-painted zones. In the game it's very obvious which areas can be affected by these sprays, and while you can't alter the whole world, a big chunk of it is yours to play with.
What's especially clever is the way you can paint or thin the world to find objects, reach new areas, solve puzzles and defeat enemies. Items are hidden in walls or under the floor; doors can be opened by thinning them; ships are raised by removing anchors from the world; and mechanical beasts have their vulnerable innards revealed by stripping away their protective shell - while others can be tamed by paint and used to help you fend off foes.