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Epic Mickey by James Dooley (Review)

posted Jan 18, 2011, 10:33 AM by Kaya Savas

The newest Disney game for the Wii is an extremely bold and entertaining approach to one of the most cherished animated characters of all time. Epic Mickey follows Mickey Mouse as he gets sucked into a dark depressing world called Wasteland. Wasteland is inhabited by the forgotten characters of the Disney universe. Mickey must now use his magic paintbrush to bring new light into the dark world. The concept is indeed epic for the character and the game itself is incredibly story driven while still being a platformer. James Dooley was responsible for the music in the game and has created an incredibly unique world through the music.

Excuse me for the lame comparison but Dooley paints the world through the music just as the player paints the world with Mickey's paintbrush. I think what surprised me the most right off the bat with the score was the way it was structured. While most game scores have a looping quality to the tracks I didn't really get the feel with the longer tracks here. Sure some of them feel like they could loop and loop because they were designed to in-game. The score works almost the same as you would hear it for a progressing narrative. The themes and variations are fantastic. Even though this is a synth based score it still has a large heartwarming feel.

What's impressive is that Dooley was able to maintain his unique style and voice and still incorporate certain aspects that felt "Disney". The game's production design is stunning and some levels incorporate classic Disney cartoon stylings and of course the music had to reflect that. Dooley will bring the ragtime piano now and then to accent those parts. While some of the shorter tracks are short bursts of whimsical tunes they still function as accents to certain characters. As a Wii game the setbacks are that the dialogue in-game is all character grunts and moans behind text. So think of those tracks as the dialogue.

Epic Mickey is a fantastic journey and an experience worth taking. Dooley implements his familiar style and turns the score into something memorable. The main theme echoes throughout the score so the music is definitely grounded in the story and character, which is something you don't always see in video games. The score rises above just being background music and offers listeners something worthwhile.
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