Epic Mickey was announced back in November but information has been a bit scarce until now. Game Informer had an in-depth preview in the US but details were for their readers' eyes only, but the UK's Official Nintendo Magazine recently got a chance to look at this game and kindly shared their thoughts.
Warren Spector is a big Disney fan, but as we reported back in October when Disney approached him initially he scoffed at the idea of a Mickey game in the mouse's current incarnation. See, the mouse wasn't just a pre-schooler's best friend back in the day; in his early days the mouse was a mischievous, adventuresome fellow who didn't think twice about swinging a cat by its tail nor stealing a cheeky kiss off Minnie. Mickey was born part Douglas Fairbanks and part Charlie Chaplin, and Warren Spector has been tasked with taking the mouse back to his roots
The game centres around a world created by the sorcerer Yen-Sid (the same one Mickey disobeys in the Sorcerer's Apprentice sequence in Fantasia, movie trivia fans!) which is a home for the forgotten Disney characters and ruled by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney's first major star before Mickey hit the scene. Early in his career Mickey accidentally spilt ink on the tiny world but decided to cover it up. As a result, over time the ink has devastated Oswald's world and Mickey's been transported there to fix things up.
ONM interviewed Spector about the nature of the game and his influences.
My very favourite games to play have always been Nintendo games, so I started thinking 'what would happen if I took the exploration and tool use of a Zelda game, and the platforming of a Mario game and brought in some of the character customisation and story and role playing elements of, say, a Deus Ex, and mashed them all together?
He also added that part of his drive for this project was to go beyond tried and tested ideas, adding "as much as I'm enjoying the Zelda and Mario games, from a design standpoint they really haven't moved very far in the last 20 years. They're much prettier now, and that's kind of it."
In the game Mickey uses a paintbrush to alter his surroundings, which may bring up thoughts of Okami but Spector was keen to stress differences. Mickey's paintbrush uses paint and thinner on the world and objects that surround it; paint creates and thinner destroys. Choices you make as Mickey also affect him and other characters in the game: while Mickey can't be completely amoral, players can choose to be the nicest mouse with best intentions at heart or a mischevious scamp. Spector describes how that works in a discussion of the first hour of gameplay:
In the first hour, your goal is going to be to find a particular character somewhere in this world. You can seek out other characters that can help you find the character you're looking for, or you can rescue characters in need who will then help you, or you can bully your way through and try and do it all on your own.
Spector himself sounds incredibly keen on this title and apparently Disney are too, as there's a lot of money backing the project. As Spector admits, "this is by far the biggest budgeted game that I've ever worked on." There's a lot riding on this one, but with Spector's passion and talent behind it we should be in for a treat when Epic Mickey launches later this year.