We look back at some of the most significant events in the Wii's third year.
Mickey is Epic
By: Pedro Hernandez, Staff Writer
Remember the days when Disney-inspired games were the best? Mickey Mania, Chip'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Duck Tales, Magical Quest, Castle of Illusion, Disney's Aladdin, and many others demonstrate that just because a game is based on a license it doesn't have to be bad. Unfortunately, save for Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts series, Disney games have lost much of their charm thanks to their use as hype vehicles for the release of a movie or TV series. They can be good, but they lack the magic and polish some of the older games had. This, however, might change soon...
In 2007, Warren Spector (the man behind PC clasics Deus Ex, Wing Commander, and System Shock) sold his company Junction Point Studios to Disney Interactive. Rumors then surfaced that their first project with Disney would be a Mickey Mouse platformer for Wii. Then everything went quiet.
In 2009, the first clues of the game's existence began to surface. Design sketches from an untitled Mickey project were leaked, and they showed a Disney world that was twisted, macabre, and downright bizarre. Disney's beautiful castles were filled with spikes and sat atop twisted rocks. The lovable characters were envisioned as mechanized zombies. Classic cartoon characters were terrorized by steampunk-inspired machines with Disney-related details. Needless to say, the beauty of these images made player's imaginations run wild. Would Disney really allow such a twisted version of their family-friendly characters and worlds? Was this going to be for the Wii? The best part was that players wouldn't have to wait long to learn more about it.
A few weeks after the images were leaked, it was confirmed that Warren Spector's first game at Disney was called Epic Mickey, a Wii-exclusive title that envisioned the iconic cartoon character as a mischievous rascal lost in a literal cartoon wasteland. Game Informer became the first publication and online site to have exclusive info on the promising title. A press event in London by Disney Interactive at the end of October revealed even more juicy details.
The story behind Epic Mickey is one that made a lot of fans giddy with anticipation, as well as made them scratch their heads. Epic Mickey brings back a lost Disney character: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney's first cartoon character. But rather that have him appear as a happy-go-lucky critter, he is a rabbit bent on revenge. As the story goes, Oswald was sent to a land of forgotten Disney ideas created by Sorcerer Yen Sid (Fantasia). During that time, he has resented Mickey's success. Mickey then spills paint thinner on the world, creating a wasteland ruled by the Phantom Blorb (Mickey's enemy from his comic books). He must set out to right his wrongs or create even more mayhem, and recruit an ally in Oswald before it's too late.
Epic Mickey will be a 3D platformer in the mold of Super Mario Galaxy. Mickey will have at his disposal animation-related tools such as paintbrushes, thinners, erasers and many other items. He will use these tools to both create and destroy. He can create a bridge by painting in the missing elements, or completely destroy a building using the paint thinner. In true Warren Spector fashion, the actions you do as Mickey will affect the story and the characters around you. If you decide to destroy everything and be greedy, Mickey will become a scrapper and adopt a rat-like appearance. If you play by the rules, Mickey will become the hero, standing up straight and wearing golden gloves. If you are balanced, Mickey becomes a wastelander.
Every asset of Mickey's rich history will be presented in Epic Mickey, although in a twisted manner. Mickey's pals, such as Donald Duck, will appear as incomplete robots built by the Mad Doctor. There will also be 2D levels based on Mickey's classic cartoons. Many of the game's worlds will also be inspired by Disney movies and theme park attractions, such as the It's a Small World ride. Spector assures that everything will feel familiar to fans, but will have an eerie presence that will take many players by surprise.
So why is this significant in the Wii's third year? As mentioned already, it has been a while since an upcoming Disney game has shown such promise. The concept and story alone makes it worth checking out, whether you are a fan of the mouse or couldn't care less. Epic Mickey will be an initiative to re-invigorate the Mickey Mouse persona beyond its current target age group. It will try to relive the golden age of Mickey's career, going as far as to redesign him to look like his former cartoon self. The game will also utilize the Wii's technology in a creative manner. The project started out as a PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 title, but was later on moved to the Wii, where Spector's team plans to use its technology to the fullest. It also helps that the man behind it is both a historian of classic animation and one of the most influential game designers in the industry. Spector really knows his stuff when it comes to Disney and videogame design. It's because of this that the game promises to be something special.
Epic Mickey will hit stores in fall 2010, but fans are already anticipating its release. This is easily one of the most exciting Wii-related developments of 2009, and one of the most important events in the Wii's third year.