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The Power of Personality in The Power of Illusion

posted 8 Jun 2012, 08:41 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 8 Jun 2012, 08:50 ]
Other gaming mascots better watch out, because the release of
The Power of Illusion will mean Mickey's third major game appearance for the year 2012 -- other two being Kingdom Hearts 3D and Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. Serving as a handheld spiritual successor to Castle of Illusion and what appears to be a close relative to DuckTales, The Power of Illusion promises to be a strong experience all on its own without relying heavily on Disney Epic Mickey's anticipated sequel to give it momentum. With that said, should there be any doubt that it will be able to stand on its own two feet? Given the track record of DreamRift with two hits on the DS, that alone should give individuals a measure of confidence. But as this game demonstrates, the use of a traceable visual styling is an effective and inviting tool that should not be undervalued, even when the shoe is on the other foot.

Like two kids from the same parents who choose different paths in life, The Power of Illusion looks to elevate creative platforming -- something DreamRift has proven to be more than capable at doing through their previous two DS successes. How this will principally be done has already been explained on paper quite well. Much of this will involve erasing parts of the environment to open up a new path, but in addition to revealing a number of other details on the game's inspirations, recently the developers also detailed some of the realizations of the customization aspect and how it links to what Junction Point is concentrating on in the console release.

While at the same time not drifting too far from what Epic Mickey represents in its console form, The Power of Illusion thus carries similar themes of being able to manipulate the environment to serve your own ends. That may be true, but by not restraining a team to fit within a mold that may very well have proven successful in the past, it's that ability to exercise an almost creative licensing that can be used to invite onlookers to not only take a peek, but trust that that tease will be one they can feel safe towards. And, in collaboration with the feelings people have towards Disney as a property, this is what I feel the visual portrayal of Illusion's gameplay does.

Allow me to be straight: What we
have seen of the title so far hasn't been the most enticing of invitations, and that's in spite of the game's clear commitment to rouse feelings of nostalgia from the inspirations it draws from. I say this because, one, Mickey moves at a surprisingly slow pace; and second, the combat system, while intentionally not meant to be a dominant feature, appears a bit stale to me. It's an interesting observation to make since the basic structure of Monster Tale's resembled what they're trying to do here. But in light of all this, I find it intriguing that if you've played Monster Tale or Henry Hatsworth, you should recognize there's this atmospheric element to the game that draws you in a way that feels synchronous with those other titles even though this has other pre-existing foundations in place. To that end, I do think it's great that they're incorporating past Disney characters into the story to make it more of a likeable experience, and despite some attempts to distance The Power of Illusion from the console counterpart, Oswald's inclusion as well as some of the conditions described above might suggest the two games have more in common than they want us to think. Still, a key element that does that job for them is, again, the amount of personality that is demonstrated in the visual execution of this concept.

Seeing screens of the game should leave no doubt in your mind who is behind The Power of Illusion as DreamRift's style is instantly felt when you first catch wind of this game. Their signature, if you will, works hand-in-hand with the throwback feel that Disney wants to have for this project that is less companion and more individual. But ultimately, seeing DreamRift bring their unique style to the fore in such a way that their individuality as a team is still maintained is, in a way, inspiring.

Even though we have yet to see gameplay in full force, those anticipating this game have adequate reason to trust that DreamRift is really going to bring their A-game for the reasons described above. I only hope more developers can harness similar vibes in the titles they create and learn from the development team's branding of their style as a dominant aesthetic.