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The 11 things you NEED to know about Epic Mickey

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Disney Interactive's Epic Mickey could turn out to be very serious business indeed. Really, forget any preconceptions you might have of this being just another throwaway cartoon license. With proper gaming legend Warren Spector (Deus Ex, Thief) at the helm, this is a game stuffed with enough ideas and cool concepts to make it an absolute classic.

How do we know? We recently met Spector and had the Epic Mickey demoed at the game's world premiere press conference. Here, in words, pictures and video, is what we found out.

 


1, The plot is genius

Blending real-world Disney history with the parallel reality of the cartoons, Epic Mickey’s story concept is one of the most exciting we’ve seen in a very long time. And if you’re an animation nerd, it will make you haemorrhage joy from your eyes.

 

Starting with Walt Disney’s notorious inability to throw away any idea, sketch, or even contract, the game assumes that he created a world for his forgotten characters, so that they would have a sanctuary to enjoy once their fame had faded. Pulled into this world by antagonistic means, Mickey rapidly finds that things aren’t right. Built from decaying Disney iconography, the Cartoon Wasteland as it's known is in a bad state and getting worse, and for reasons currently undisclosed, he is responsible. And if he’s going to succeed in fixing things, he’s going to have to heal a very old family rift with a brother he never even knew he had. But more of that a few paragraphs down...

 


2, The world is what you make it

Literally. Mickey’s central powers revolve around paint and paint thinner. Painting is a constructive ability, while paint thinner, taking a cue from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, is a destructive force, able to wipe out character and landscape alike. Find a broken bridge? Just paint it back in. Can’t pass an obstacle? Splash it with paint thinner to get rid of it. But from the game footage we’ve seen, this won’t be a simplistic, scripted mechanic.

 

Both paint and thinner come from a limited resource pool, meaning that you can use as much or as little as you like while navigating a certain area. You can paint all of that bridge back in for total safety if you like, but you’ll do it at the expense of a lot of paint. You can conserve if you just recreate a few platforms, but you’ll have to be careful that you construct a path navigable enough to get across alive.


3, All but three characters come from early Disney history

The level of attention to Disney detail in Epic Mickey is insane. Seriously, Mr. Antista is going to explode. With a plot that essentially gives a narrative to the company’s history, it’s packed with ancient Disney characters in exactly the right roles. Chief antagonist The Phantom Blot originally appeared in a 1939 Mickey comic strip and has been an occasionally recurring cartoon villain since. The Mad Doctor is a secondary bad guy who originated in the following 1933 cartoon. Watch it. It’s awesome, and it’ll give you an idea of the kind of tone this game seems to be going for.

And Disney’s Gremlins make a return. Not the “Don’t feed them after midnight” variety, these ones were actually created by Roald Dahl and adapted by Disney for an aborted fantasy WWII film. They’ll help you out, but you’ll have to help them first. And of course, long-serving Mickey nemesis Black Pete is also back. 

 

But most significant of all for Disney geeks is the inclusion of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (above). Essentially the proto-Mickey, Oswald was the first mascot character Walt created, back in his early days while working for Universal. Oswald is the ultimate forgotten Disney creation, spurned by Walt after his real-life firing from Universal left that company with the character rights. Walt adapted his design to create Mickey, and the mouse went on to become the biggest cartoon star in history. Bitter and resentful, but certainly redeemable given the right treatment, Oswald is key to the whole story.


4, The new characters are very interesting indeed

Seeing Oswald’s jealousy at the vibrant world and cast of friends that Walt has created for Mickey since his success, the Mad Doctor has built an equivalent set of friends for him. But like most things in the Cartoon Wasteland, they’re pretty screwed up, being broken-up, part-finished animatronic versions of their inspirations. They’re pretty creepy and very cool.

 

The Spatters seem to be the game’s default grunt enemy. Living splats of paint at the command of The Phantom Blot, they’re archetypal Disney “silly minion” characters, described by Spector as “popcorn units”. Numerous, fun and disposable. Most interestingly though, we were told that something very bad will happen if Spatters interact with Oswald's numerous kids (he's a rabbit, think about it). No details, but we saw a short video clip of a baby rabbit eating a Spatter, so we reckon some kind of enemy possession affair is incoming. Now how would Mickey deal with that without wiping out the innocent bunny?

And Finally we have the Beetleworx, another robotic creation of the Mad Doctor. We don’t know a huge amount about them yet, but they’re a definite antagonist, and being robotic, are totally immune to paint thinner. Apparently you'll need a very different approach in order to deal with them.


5, It's Fallout meets Disney

And don’t go thinking that limited resources of artistic materials is the only consideration in how you approach things. Epic Mickey also contains a Fallout 3 style morality system which dynamically changes Mickey’s character class depending on how you play. Navigate the world aggressively, getting into every fight you can and wiping out obstacles willy-nilly, and he’ll become the Scrapper; personally powerful with more effective paint thinner, but shunned and mistrusted by the world’s characters.

 

Play benevolently, helping out NPCs wherever you meet them and generally being an all-round nice guy, and Mickey will become the Hero. His creative paint power becomes more powerful and the world becomes a visibly brighter, happier place. And with both moral extremes your experience of the game will change, as Mickey’s augmented powers and differing character interactions will open and close certain parts of the game, meaning that some levels just won’t appear depending on how you play.

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40 comments

  • Never_Mine - March 2, 2010 1:47 a.m.

    I'm actually really excited about this game. They don't make Mickey Mouse cartoons like that anymore.
  • bloodyshadow - November 3, 2009 11 a.m.

    Holy crap! I may have to dust off my Wii... if I can find it... now where did I put that damn thing.
  • Metroidhunter32 - November 2, 2009 11:17 p.m.

    @ TrigunGunner I'm talking like movies from the 80s and 90s not the 30s and 40s. Like Aladin and Toy Story times.
  • drprofessor - November 2, 2009 8:49 p.m.

    *nerdgasm*
  • Fuhjem - November 1, 2009 11:40 p.m.

    For this, I can almost forgive Disney for that shite JONAS show which is currently raping my little sisters' personalities.
  • Nodoudt - November 1, 2009 5:06 p.m.

    I'm ready to give this a chance, I just hope it doesn't come out soley for Wii, I'd hate to see it fall prey to Wii's bad rep for "kiddie games". Especially with it being Disney and all... Besides, graphics like this are far worthier of being on XB360 or PS3... ReCaptcha: *garbled mess* peterson I have a picture of it too >_<
  • asshatjenkins - November 1, 2009 2:34 a.m.

    Yeah, I remember a while back reading a Kingdom Hearts article and GamesRadar believed a game informer advertisement for Epick Mickey was actually an advertisement for Kingdom Hearts III.
  • TreeBird1 - October 31, 2009 11:50 p.m.

    @CatrParrot While I don't know if I entirely love the "morality system" in games I do know that in Infamous I have played as both the good guy and the bad all the way through the game and being bad is by far the easier way to go. Try infamous if you have a PS3 and I think you may be surprised. I'd love to see that good of a system implemented in this game.
  • SUPERGOOD - October 31, 2009 7:46 p.m.

    i love kingdom hearts and i was hoping for KH3 but now all i want is this right here
  • crumbdunky - October 31, 2009 1:30 a.m.

    Well, usually anything Disney makes me worried and want to run away. Fast. Have to admit, though, that this looks pretty interesting. Good for the Wii to have something BIG that isn't going to be a Ninty product either-thing is with the normal desire for high fidelity for Disney and their animations I'd have felt they might have wanted to go the HD route either as well as the Wii or instead of. That said we've seen the Wii do well with heavily drawn characters and backgrounds as diverse as Muramasa and even SMG or Metroid-so an even mire cartoony game might not lack very much in the end though to beat out R&C's latest will be well beyond them. I'm not complaining, mnd, but do think Disney would have wanted to make it look as good as possible. Ney, must just be a market thing and they couldn't see PS360 gamers playing as much as Wi gamers with it being MM and all-I'm not sure the're right , mind, as if it's a bit hard it might not set the Wii alight while KH always does well on PS doesn't it? Interesting choice and I'm intrigued to see if they made the right one. Certainly, however, makes a change for a Disney project not to make me queasy!
  • Samael - October 30, 2009 11:25 p.m.

    Looks cool. Oh it's for the Wii? Uh...yeah not so much.
  • V13Dragongal - October 30, 2009 9:47 p.m.

    This game looks great and i can't wait to play it! Also the last mickey mouse game i played(besides KH)SUCKED! it was that stupid mickey magic mirror thing and im glad i barley remenber it. ReCaptcha: ship whatever to where i wonder
  • NotBraze - October 30, 2009 5:22 p.m.

    @Xtremer: Are you kidding? You really care so much about what other people think of you that you're going to ignore something that looks interesting because you're friends will think it's lame? Be who you want to be (so long as that person isn't damaging) and if you're friends are real friends they won't disown you for playing what has the potential to be the first great Disney game in ages. Embrace the nerdy side of life.
  • GR_DavidHoughton - October 30, 2009 3:30 p.m.

    No probs. We like to do a thorough job here when exciting things need to be told. Oh yes we do.
  • MagicalSarai - October 30, 2009 3:17 p.m.

    I've been watching this game for months now... even before it was mentioned in GameInformer... I'm glad to see your site put something up about it and some of this article was actually new information! thank you!
  • JayLin22 - October 30, 2009 1:57 p.m.

    This game sounds amazing! I think the only downside is that it won't sell - the majority of Wii owners don't care, as this game will appeal to the older amongst us - those who grew up with the Disney shorts. I know many will hate me for this, but it's possibly a great game on the wrong platform...
  • GR_DavidHoughton - October 30, 2009 12:12 p.m.

    CatrParrot: Far from it. Done right they just give you asymmetric gameplay experiences. Some things you can see/do as good/bad, you can't as the opposite. And sometimes the moral highground is nowhere near as instantly profitable as screwing someone over for a quick buck. Fable II does this, as does Fallout 3, and Epic Mickey looks to be going the same way.
  • lovinmyps3 - October 30, 2009 3:54 a.m.

    I hope this isn't just for Wii. :(
  • NotBraze - October 30, 2009 2:50 a.m.

    They got the ears right! A CG mickey where the ears always face you, HOORAY! But animation Nerdgasms aside this looks really cool. This is something that would have never happened under Eisner's leash and I'm glad that Lasseter and co. are making this possible.
  • GameManiac - October 30, 2009 2:28 a.m.

    Hmm... Interesting... Being able to skip bosses altogether? Why don't ALL games have that?!

Showing 1-20 of 40 comments

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