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Epic Mickey: Rebrushed’s control tweaks reinvigorate a Wii classic

Key art for Epic Mickey Rebrushed.
THQ Nordic

While Nintendo’s February Direct Partner Showcase included a few unexpected games, nothing was more surprising than the return of Epic Mickey. The Nintendo Wii adventure is something of a cult classic among Disney fans thanks to its unique painting hook and some clever 2D levels that pay tribute to classic Mickey Mouse cartoons. Though it’s beloved by some, reviews at the time were mixed due to some clumsy Wii-era motion controls and a poor 3D camera.

Thankfully, the Disney adventure is getting some redemption in Epic Mickey: Rebrushed. The upcoming release doesn’t just bring the Wii game to Switch but aims to fix most of its most glaring problems, too. That’s a change I expected, considering that it would need a control overhaul to work with the Switch’s more traditional button layout. What surprised me, though, is that Rebrushed isn’t just a simple HD remaster like its title seemed to imply. It’s a true remake, even if its visual upgrades are a bit modest.

Mickey fights in Epic Mickey: Rebrushed.
THQ Nordic

My demo would take me to a chunk of Gremlin Village, Epic Mickey’s second major area. I’d quickly relearn the basics as I remembered how to use paint to reveal hidden objects and disappear enemies with thinner. It was a clever 3D platforming gimmick in the Wii era, and it hasn’t lost any charm here. I still got the same satisfaction from thinning chunks out of a wall so I could jump to a platform on its other side.

The focus of the demo was less on gameplay, though. Instead, it was built to show off Rebrushed’s overhauled visuals and controls. At first, I assumed that the project was a simple remaster. It looks brighter and smoother than its Wii counterpart, but there are still enough rough edges here that make it feel like an older game that’s been painted up. To my surprise, I’d learn that Rebrushed is a much more ambitious project. Every asset has been remade from the ground up. Everything stays true to the 2010 original’s design, but it’s a whole new game. While that’s slightly disappointing to hear, considering how jagged and dated the new visuals can look, I appreciate that the teams at Purple Lamp and THQ Nordic went the extra mile here.

What’s more impactful is the control overhaul, which makes Rebrushed feel like an entirely different game. Rather than using motion controls to paint, I play my demo on a standard Switch Pro Controller, using a two-stick setup to move and control the camera. That’s so naturally implemented here that I can hardly remember the clumsy controls of the original. Nothing feels out of step with a modern 3D game, where I’m able to freely pivot the camera around while painting enemies.

A 2D level in Epic Mickey: Rebrushed.
THQ Nordic

That may not sound like a lot to a casual reader, but it’s something that’s sure to get fans of the original excited. With that friction gone, Epic Mickey: Rebrushed moves some major distractions out of the way. That’ll allow players coming to it for the first time to more clearly see its unique gameplay twists and the creative ways it weaves Disney history into its world. I’d be reminded of that when I played a remade version of a 2D level themed around Mickey’s Steamboat Willie cartoon.

The best case scenario? Rebrushed gets a whole new generation interested in the short-lived series and gives Disney the confidence to make a new installment. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking for now, but Epic Mickey: Rebrushed puts its best foot forward to make a case for a full-on revival.

Epic Mickey: Rebrushed will launch this year on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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