Monday, 21 June 2010

E3: Epic Mickey

I knew Mickey was coming to the Wii, but I never expected it to be this big a deal. After a slew of unremarkable attempts to recapture the glory days of the SNES and SEGA, Disney look like they’ve finally come up with a Mickey title that people genuinely care about. As interest has slowly grown over the past year, Epic Mickey was bound to be a big deal at E3, but instead of a new trailer Disney demonstrated a demo with creator Warren Spector explaining in detail the game’s core mechanics. For a Disney freak like me, this was pure joy. 

As much as I enjoy the Kingdom Hearts series, the Disney aspect, while aesthetically pleasing, takes a backseat to the content which is far more Final Fantasy oriented. Epic Mickey on the other hand is 100% homegrown Disney which means this one is for the fans. As the footage revealed, there are going to be an awful lot of references to Disney lore which only the true obsessives like yours truly will understand. In fact, vintage cartoons will play a significant role as Mickey will venture into worlds based on classic shorts such as Clock Cleaners (1937) and the ultimate classic, Steamboat Willie (1928)

Not that this is all just going to be a trip down memory lane. What’s really piquing people’s interest is the ability to affect the progression of the game based on how you play. Mickey, armed with paint and thinner can choose to erase his enemies or turn them into allies and this moral element means that Mickey is no longer the traditional hero. Weaving elements both platform and RPG, this may contain a surprising amount of depth. Not to mention a helluva lot of fun. Mickey is wonderfully animated and the paint effect looks gorgeous; less CG and more like a traditionally animated toon. Few third parties try to push the Wii’s graphical capibilities but Epic Mickey could be an exception.

Of course, this title is a big deal for Disney for several reasons, the most prominent being the renewal of Mickey’s bad boy image. Back in the day, the world’s most famous mouse was a bit of a scamp but his gradual watering down into a corporate image over the years has left him looking a bit... well, 2D. Epic Mickey, with its twisted take on The Wonderful World of Disney hopes to change all that with a black and white star that isn’t so black and white. There’s also the small deal of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey’s forebear who was purchased back from Universal in 2006, but has thus far failed to make a significant appearance. Playing such a big role here may be a great opportunity for Disney to get his name out there and hopefully integrate him into the Disney gang. And of course, Disney Interactive Studios have taken huge strides in the world of gaming over the last couple of years and this could be the hit they’ve been looking for. Without being biased, I think it will be.

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