Like a night-capping fireworks display over Sleeping Beauty's Castle, Disney Epic Mickey arrived with a bang. One of the year's most anticipated titles, the Wii exclusive also marks the iconic mouse's long-awaited return to the medium. Mickey's latest adventure puts him in Wasteland, a wildly imaginative world made up of familiar, yet slightly askew sights and sounds that anyone who's toured a Disney park will recognize. You see, Wasteland was created by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit - Walt's first, but ultimately abandoned, cartoon star - as a safe haven for other forgotten toons like himself. Envious of his rodent half-brother's fame, Oswald models his world after Mickey's, complete with rides, attractions, and themed lands. His bizarre version, however, isn't quite the Happiest Place on Earth.
For gamers, this means trekking through twisted takes on the Haunted Mansion, Sleeping Beauty's Castle, Pirates of the Caribbean, and many other beloved Disney destinations. Wielding a magic paintbrush - borrowed from Mickey's old sorcerer buddy Yen Sid - players can alter these surroundings with paint and thinner that create and destroy, respectively. While puzzling, platforming, and getting behind the brush in Epic Mickey is certainly appealing, the game's real draw, so to speak, is its lovingly crafted environments. Whether battling a boss atop Wasteland's Space Voyage (a nod to Space Mountain) or solving a puzzle in a decidedly darker version of "It's a Small World," where the water's been replaced by a river of Mickey-melting thinner, fans will continually discover reasons to flip their Mouse ears.
The creation of this detail-drenched, Disney-with-a-twist world is due in no small part to legendary designer Warren Spector's passion for the mouse-driven source material. Quite literally a Disney fan since birth - he still owns the Pluto plush toy his dad bought him the day he was born - the Mickey Mouse watch-wearing Spector recently conducted a tour of Disneyland, appropriately enough, to discuss the inspiration behind his latest project. Showing a masterful command of the park's layout (he must be an annual pass holder), Spector pointed out some of his favorite rides and explained what players can expect from their corrupted counterparts in Wasteland.
Beginning with classic dark-ride Pirates of the Caribbean, Spector explained its inclusion as well as its significant role in shaping Epic Mickey's entire world. "I set a cut-off date for things in Wasteland of 1967 because it was a big year. Pirates was the last ride Walt himself had anything to do with creating. Additionally, 1967's Jungle Book was the last feature film he had anything to do with, so I thought that would be an appropriate cut-off date; so nothing in Wasteland - at least not that we know of - comes from after that. I wanted to honor Walt's memory by saying that when he passed on, the world that his imagination brought into being was frozen in time. In addition to that, this is clearly one of the most iconic rides in the park. We had to include Pirates in the game."