With this month's issue of Game Informer comes the long-awaited preview of Warren Spector's "Epic Mickey" project, and we finally get a look at Disney's iconic Mouse going back to his roots.
Earlier this month, when the first concrete details about Junction Point's "Epic Mickey" project first hit the Intertubes, we reported that there would be much more to come in the November issue of Game Informer. Well, guess what's out on shelves now?
We'd heard about a retro-inspired redesign for Mickey Mouse, and it looks like this is it. It's rather interesting, when you think about it - so many of us have grown up with a different-looking, modern Mickey that this return to his roots does look a bit odd. But then again, "Epic Mickey" is all about returning to roots. The art for this game is still as awesome as it ever was, though I have to admit I was hoping for something more... well, paint-like - think Okami.
The plot of the game sounds like a cross between the actual history of Disney and the famous "Sorcerer's Apprentice" portion of Fantasia. Mickey - who in this reimagination is being brought back to his more "mischievous" ways from the late '20s and early '30s - stumbles upon the study of the sorcerer Yensid (who must hang out with Alucard) and ends up fiddling with a magical animated world that the magician wove for his creations, the first of which was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He spills paint and paint thinner onto the animated world, then escapes from the room upon hearing Yensid returning, thinking nothing of his escapade.
While Mickey returns to live a life of fame and fortune, his actions have turned Oswald's peaceful and beautiful home into a twisted reflection of its former self, and have birthed a villain known as the Phantom Blot. Oswald and friends are eventually overwhelmed by the Blot and twisted as well, and this leads to bitterness and hatred. Mickey must eventually set right what he once set wrong, and - interestingly enough - "Epic Mickey" will have something of a moral choice system. Naturally, Disney probably won't end up allowing players to make their iconic mascot a psychopath, but it seems that he'll be able to get through the levels as a Scrapper who uses paint thinner to erase things, or as a Hero who uses paint to create things.
Beyond all the details about the game itself, some of the most interesting stuff in the article ended up being the bits about the development of the game itself. As it turns out, Warren Spector initially refused the project, telling the Disney suits who came calling that Mickey Mouse had been made "lame and irrelevant to anybody over the age of eight for the past 30 years. I don't do games for kids." Surprisingly, said Disney representatives agreed with the obsolescence of the company's mascot, which is why they were determined to find someone to "reinvigorate" the character - ideally, through a video game. Responded Spector: "You know, this is probably impossible, we're probably going to fail. I'm in."
Furthermore, it turns out that long-forgotten Disney-mascot-turned-villain Oswald the Rabbit was almost unavailable for the project. Though he had been a Disney creation, the rights to the character were held by NBC Universal - and without those rights, the story would lack the central antagonist that it needed. According to Warren Spector, Disney CEO Bob Iger felt that the character of Oswald was so central to the "Epic Mickey" project that the big boss negotiated a deal with Universal and "traded Al Michaels, a human sportscaster, for the rights to a cartoon rabbit."
Well, it's nice to see that Disney's 100% on board with this thing.
There's a ton of info about the game in the issue, and it's getting me more pumped than ever. The art style might not have been what I was expecting, but it still looks cool, and apparently the game will feature a dismembered Donald Duck. Boy, I wish I had context for that. Anyway, if this retake on Disney's classic characters has been piquing your interest, you might want to pick up the issue when you're buying your copy of Brutal Legend or Uncharted 2 this weekend (or you could wait and see if it shows up on the hub page).