There's a fine line between refining a formula and milking it. Where's My Water? is an excellent game that's in danger of outstaying its welcome with every themed update Disney releases. Thankfully, Where's My Mickey? XL does enough to stave off those accusations for the time being.
The central idea hasn't changed much, but here - perhaps more so than in any previous update - context is key.
As ever, it's all about guiding water to a beloved character, in this case Disney's most famous creation of all, but in each chapter Mickey needs a steady stream of H2O for different purposes.Lemon aid
At first, he's running a busy lemonade stand on a hot summer's day at the beach, before he's asked to douse a malevolent flame heading towards a cache of TNT barrels.
Later, he's hurriedly watering seeds in time to enter a gardening competition before embarking on a galactic adventure in an aqua-powered spacecraft.
The different scenarios add a welcome dose of variety, with a range of mechanics introduced throughout - even if many of them will be familiar to those who've played previous Where's My Water? episodes.
Perhaps the most notable change is the appearance of clouds that can absorb water, with a tap sending a shower directly downwards from the point of contact.
This allows for more accurate water distribution in some stages, while the clouds can also be directed with gusts of wind or dissolved where they're an obstacle to the exit or to the three stars you're encouraged to pick up on the way.Mickey does what Walt disnae
Again, there are hidden collectibles on some stages, which you must excavate with your fingers. They'll probably mean much more to Disney aficionados than to anyone else, but they're a welcome ancillary objective nonetheless.
What makes Where's My Mickey? XL stand out from previous games is not the mechanics, then, but the presentation. Each chapter is introduced by an amusing short cartoon presented in an attractively old-fashioned hand-drawn art style.
Better still is the range of unique animations that conclude each stage. The first set might see a lemon attempt to perform a high dive into the water, while Mickey's attempts to splash water on chapter two's mischievous flame are often thwarted by the presence of other characters in his bucket.
Pride comes before a pratfall
With 20 stages in each chapter, that's a lot of different outcomes, and the desire to see what slapstick fun Disney is set to serve up in the next stage is a compelling reason to keep playing.
The fact that completing one level immediately launches the next means it's very easy to lose yourself in Where's My Mickey? XL for hours at a time, not least thanks to the generous number of stages you get for your money.
And that's not all. Two Goofy-themed chapters extend the fun for a mere 69p / 99c, with a further 40 levels to conquer. There's plenty here to keep you busy, in other words, and even if much of it is formulaic the comical rewards for completing each stage make Disney's conservatism easy to forgive.
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