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PAX 2010: Epic Mickey Preview

Epic Mickey is Disney’s newest video game title–for the Wii–that is being created by Warren Spector, the mastermind game designer behind such games like Deus Ex and System Shock, and the fine development team over at Disney Interactive.  I got a chance to play the game myself over at the Disney booth at PAX Prime this year, and I will have to say I am “pleasantly surprised” with the path they are taking Mickey down.

Robert A. Iger CEO of the Walt Disney Corporation addressed shareholders one time in the monthly Backstage Pass Magazine, “We here at Disney are looking to bring Mickey back to his mischievous roots, not in a bad way, but in a fun loving way. We all know that Mickey has nothing but heart in him, but in the old days he did get himself into quite a lot of trouble…”

Mickey uses his spin move to shut off the robot arm. Photo by Travis Orgel

Well that essence defiantly is shown by Warren Spector and he nails the retro Mickey essence down to the very looks of him.

If you are expecting to see a Mickey game that is centered on the Mickey’s Clubhouse Animated Series you’ll be sadly mistaken. Not to worry our parent readers out there the game still is very family friendly, but it offers something for everyone. The older crowd would very much enjoy the darker, steampunk environments that Warren Spector is famous for creating, while having their child become heavily invested into a deep and rich puzzle solving story.  Warren is using the Mickey that my grandparents grew up with not the more modern one we see on the daytime children show.  This helps bring out the,” going back to the roots,” feeling that Disney is trying to attempt.

Mickey uses his thinner to erase a mistake! Photo by Travis Orgel

The game starts you off with a beautifully done cinematic which can be seen here. After it is done you are then transported into another world where imagination and quick wits is the key to surviving. Then we meet up with Oswald the Rabbit, Walt Disney’s very fist cartoon creation. Then suddenly we are caught by an enormous robot arm that is controlled by the Mad Doctor of the lab then he tries his best to torcher Mickey with all sorts of contraptions and fails miserably. After the Mad Doctor failed attempt to torcher Mickey is finished Mickey then has to escape the room of a flaying mad robot arm hook. Luckily Gus is there to help us make our escape and guide us to where we can find Oswald the Rabbit. First we needed to shut off the robot somehow so Gus taught us how to spin by shaking the Wii remote to break the main contraptions that were controlling the robot. After a few spins Gus told us it was all clear and a new stylized cinematic appeared.

Mickey using paint to create a gear so he can open the door. Photo by Travis Orgel

Whoever is creating these artistic cinematics is doing a great job, and Disney should hire him as a full time animator to help make their future cartoon movies actually good. The movies are done in this kind of wet paint style that is fully animated throughout the game.

“It’s actually inspired from some of the old comics Walt Disney did back in the early days of the corporation. More specifically towards the Mickey Mouse Magazine,” said a Disney Booth Representative.

A 1930s Mickey Mouse Magazine

After the cinematic was done we then proceeded to the hall where Gus taught us all about Paint and Thinner the main tools or “weapons” in the game. Paint is used to fill in the places where stuff should be; whereas thinner is used to erase stuff from very existence. We then solved a few puzzles down the hall where, once the hall ended, we found ourselves in a courtyard where we encountered our first enemy.

Now here is where things get a little dark. Mickey when presented with an option is allowed to either turn them into a friend by using the paint to turn him to your side, or erase him from very existence by using the thinner. That’s where it came to me that this game is seriously fun! After that we then went onto solving puzzles, and your run of the mill type platformer stuff. Epic Mickey is something that every kid and adult should look out for when it comes out to the Wii in Q4 2010. I sure as hell know I’ll be dusting off my Wii for this game!

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