Epic Mickey Featurette: Lost and Forgotten

Author: Dany Argueta
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, November 22nd, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Features/disney_epic_mickey/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

We had a chance to phone in for a developer call featuring Warren Spector (of Deus Ex fame) talking about the upcoming Epic Mickey for the Wii. Spector was kind enough to spend an hour discussing the development and gameplay of the title, with interesting results.

Epic Mickey sees a retro-styled Mickey Mouse thrown into The Wasteland, a world ravaged with decay and destruction due to Mickey accidentally letting in The Phantom Blot.  Mickey naturally tries to make an escape but discovers The Wasteland's inhabitants are old Disney characters, including Mickey's lost brother Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Feeling guilty for having a part in the destruction and wanting to be on good terms with Oswald (who is extremely jealous of Mickey's fame and popularity), Mickey sets off to restore peace to The Wasteland and get rid of The Phantom Blot.

At first glance, Epic Mickey comes off as a very dark game but it's really just The Wasteland.  The sad and bleak state of the world is unlike anything ever seen in other Disney creations, something that may come as a shock to Disney fans. Don't let that discourage you: Spector and his team set out to make this game appeal to as many audiences as possible.  Spector even admits it had no set audience from the outset.

Some of the villains who have joined The Phantom Blot's forces include the Mad Doctor (who's created some very creepy-looking Donald Duck and Goofy mechs for Oswald) and a robotic Captain Hook that is much more nefarious than his human counterpart.  Mickey's archenemy Pete will be seen frequently; he isn't afraid to get into some embarrassing getups to deceive the mouse.  The Phantom Blot himself is drastically different from his 1940's comic strip appearance, now appeaing as a huge mass of ink with glowing eyes and a mean growl.

As for the places Mickey will be visiting, Epic Mickey spans to what Walt Disney himself worked on from 1928 to 1967; there are a few exceptions here and there that are left to the players to discover. Spector chose this because he feels people don’t appreciate that Disney himself was a pretty big contributor to the entertainment industry for his time, so he wants to give his works more exposure.  Spector also briefly teased that he was pretty proud of the end-game areas but didn't want to spoil things.

Rather than offer difficulty levels, Spector leaves it to the players to decide how easy or hard they want Epic Mickey to be. You can make your way through the game however you want and there’s several options available to reach goals: if someone is in your way, you can choose to fight them or opt for more peaceful means by trading tickets Mickey finds in his travels. Shops will frequently have quest-related items to purchase as well.

For less experienced gamers, there will upgrades available to make Mickey stronger. Mickey also has some guardians that help out in a variety of ways. For example, if you're unsure of where to go next and want your guardian to show you a path, simply raise your Wii Remote in the air (just like raising your hand in class) and watch where their path leads.

Spector also left it to the players to decide how long they can make the game last from start to finish. One particular area called the Ticket Booth can be done in five minutes to do the bare minimum but those who stay around to do and see everything will be around for at least 45 minutes. An average playthrough of Epic Mickey averages around 15 hours, and players will need to beat the game about three times to see everything. The decisions you make will influence what you can and can’t do in-game but Spector shares an interesting instance where the player can break the rules:

"We set up a choice where you either must free a trapped gremlin or go get a treasure. You can't do both -- except three or four weeks ago, a player figured out how to free the gremlin and get the treasure, which everyone on the team would have told you was impossible."

You're probably wondering how the concept of Epic Mickey came about.  Surprisingly, it was Disney who approached Spector with the idea.  From there, Disney was fully supportive throughout Epic Mickey's development; Spector's team even had access to Disney's amazingly vast archives filled with material that hasn't been seen by many or was just plain forgotten.  Spector offers a lot of insight behind Epic Mickey's development, so if you're like sort of thing, this whole recording (above) is a gem to listen to.

Epic Mickey launches November 30, 2010 for the Nintendo Wii. We’ll be sure to post our review once we get our hands on the game.

»Neoseeker.com

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