North American box art
|Developer(s)||Junction Point Studios|
|Publisher(s)||Disney Interactive Studios|
Epic Mickey is a platform game developed by Junction Point Studios and published by Disney Interactive Studios for the Wii console. The game focuses on Mickey Mouse, who accidentally damages a world created by Yen Sid for forgotten characters and concepts, and is forced to fix the world while combating antagonists with a magic paintbrush. Epic Mickey notably features the first appearance of one of Walt Disney's first successful cartoon characters, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, as a major character since 1943. The game also marks the first time that Oswald and Mickey appeared together.
Epic Mickey was part of an effort by Disney to re-brand the Mickey Mouse character by placing less emphasis on his pleasant, cheerful side and reintroducing the more mischievous and adventurous sides of his personality, focusing on the idea of depicting him as an epic hero. It was directed by Warren Spector, who collaborated with both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar in conjunction with the project. The game was announced in 2009, and released in November 2010. While the game received average reviews from critics, it has garnered a following in later years.
Epic Mickey is primarily a platform game and allows players to use their own solutions for getting through the levels. Epic Mickey features a morality system similar to games like Infamous, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, and Shadow the Hedgehog. Different alliances, side-quests and power-ups are made available depending on the choices of the player. It is also possible to avoid mini-bosses if specific actions are taken.
The game's key feature is the paint brush, which Mickey wields, that has the ability to draw or erase objects using paint and paint thinner. For example, obstacles can be erased from physical existence using the thinner and then restored using the paint, or enemies can be befriended by revitalizing them with the paint or destroyed completely using the thinner. Mickey is also able to materialize objects from sketches, which have various effects. Two of the three sketches, the watch and the television, slow down time and distract enemies, respectively. Both fluids have limited reserves, adding a strategic element to gameplay: players must compromise between making various tasks harder or easier to accomplish. However, the fluids automatically but slowly refill, and power-ups that quickly replenish the fluids are available in certain areas. Mickey can also find pins in Wasteland. Most are bronze, silver, or gold pins, but some are special: for example, the "Art Appreciator" or "Mean Street" pin. Another thing that is useful in the game is a type of currency called E-tickets. These can be given or discovered. They are used to buy concept art, pins, health refills, or paint or thinner refills.
To travel between sections of the Wasteland, Mickey traverses 2D side-scrolling levels based on his cartoon shorts (with three being based on Oswald shorts; Trolley Troubles, Great Guns, and Oh, What a Knight and two being based on Sleeping Beauty and Fantasia), such as Steamboat Willie and Clock Cleaners.
The game is set in the Cartoon Wasteland, a pen-and-paper stylised world, created in the game's narrative by the sorcerer Yen Sid, as a place for "forgotten things", namely disused or obscure Disney characters. It is physically inspired by Disneyland, and appears as an intricate model in Yen Sid's workshop. However, Mickey Mouse's tampering with Yen Sid's magic paint brush and paint thinner causes mass damage to the model, creating a post-apocalyptic landscape. The land is tormented by the evil Shadow Blot, a monstrous being loosely based on the Phantom Blot, an antagonist to Mickey in the comic strips created by Floyd Gottfredson. There are also the Beetleworx, mismatched audio-animatronics designed by the Mad Doctor.
The Wasteland is split into several locations based on the various lands from Disneyland and other Disney theme parks. Mean Street, is based on Main Street, U.S.A., which is home to Horace Horsecollar and Pete, though other incarnations of the latter appear through the game. The Gremlin Village is inspired by Fantasyland, based primarily around It's A Small World. The attraction's iconic clock tower serves as the first boss battle in the game. Mickeyjunk Mountain is based on the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and is covered in Mickey Mouse toys and merchandise. Other locations include Bog Easy, based on New Orleans Square, which is home to the Lonesome Manor, based on the Haunted Mansion; Ventureland, based on Adventureland; Tomorrow City, based on Tomorrowland; and OsTown, based on Mickey's Toontown, where Clarabelle Cow, and animatronic versions of Goofy, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck live.
Mickey Mouse, out of curiosity, enters Yen Sid's workshop through a mirror in his house and discovers the model of a land Yen Sid created (which is based on Disneyland) and the tool used to create it, the paintbrush. Fiddling with the brush and some paint to make a self-portrait, Mickey accidentally creates the Shadow Blot. Panicking, Mickey quickly tries to erase the Blot by throwing paint thinner onto it, but spills more paint on the model in the process. Upon seeing Yen Sid approaching, Mickey quickly tries to clean up the mess, but in his haste, spills thinner onto the paint spillage as he flees back to his house, while the Blot, having survived Mickey's attempt to destroy it, enters through a portal created by the paint/thinner mixture (taking the Jug -the bottle of thinner- with him) and takes control of the ruined world from its first resident, Oswald ("The world I had created was ravaged - a wasteland").
After many decades of fame following the accident, Mickey had forgotten it all until the Shadow Blot enters his home through the mirror and abducts him into the ruined forgotten world, now named by this time as the Wasteland. Oswald all the while had his will and his mind twisted from years of hiding and his jealousy of Mickey's rise to fame, unaware the enigmatic Mad Doctor (who was formerly loyal to Oswald before siding with the Blot) and the Blot formulate a plan to steal Mickey's heart away, which they plan to use to escape the ruined world, as all Wasteland Toons living there are forgotten and can't leave Wasteland since no longer have hearts of their own. However, Mickey frees himself before they can succeed and scares off the Blot with Yen Sid's brush, forcing the Mad Doctor to flee. Oswald, who was spying on them, also flees after tampering with the Mad Doctor's machines, leaving Mickey to deal with the Mad Doctor's now-hostile mechanical arm.
Gus, one of the Gremlins (who serves as mechanics and helpers throughout Wasteland) helps Mickey disable the mechanical arm and escape Dark Beauty Castle, which the Mad Doctor was using as a hideout. Mickey also discovers that he was soaked with some of the Blot's ink. During his journey through the Wasteland, Mickey is guided by Gus and becomes armed with Yen Sid's brush, which grants Mickey the power to spray Paint and Thinner and allows him to erase or paint in toon objects and fight Blotlings and Beetleworx (evil robots built by the Mad Doctor). After traveling through the Gremlin Village and fighting the Clock Tower (who has been driven insane after hearing the song "It's a Small World" for decades), he makes it to Mean Street, where the Wasteland Toons mainly reside. Mickey uses the brush to restore the Wasteland in order to atone for his destruction and win Oswald's trust. After passing through Ostown and Mickeyjunk Mountain, they find Oswald, who agrees to help Mickey escape. They go to Tomorrow City and find a rocket they can use to leave, but Oswald finds the Mad Doctor has stolen essential parts from it to use for his evil plans, so Mickey goes to collect them. He retrieves the first part after defeating Petetronic (a robotic version of Pete), the second after defeating a mechanical version of Captain Hook, and confronts the Mad Doctor in the Lonesome Manor. After defeating him, he reveals to have turned himself into a Beetleworx, which will allow him to survive the Blot's revolt before he is sent flying after Gus removes the last rocket part from his hovercraft. After acquiring all the rocket parts, Oswald has Mickey help repel an attack on Mickeyjunk Mountain.
After defeating a fake Blot (Oswald revealed the Shadow Blot Mickey fought along with all the Blotlings he encountered were drippings of the real Blot and that the fake Blot is the real Blot's second-in-command), Oswald reveals that he and his girlfriend, Ortensia, attempted to seal the Blot away, but Ortensia was blighted by the Blot in the process and entered an inert state. When attempting to reconcile, Mickey eventually comes to terms with his actions in causing what the Toons call "the thinner disaster", and reveals all to Oswald, who loses his temper. While jumping angrily on the cork sealing the Jug, Oswald accidentally causes the cork to break, allowing the true form of the Shadow Blot- a giant specter constructed from paint thinner- to escape his prison into the world. The Blot takes Oswald and Gus, threatening to kill them if Mickey does not allow the Blot to take his heart. Mickey yields his heart to the Blot, who then proceeds to destroy the Wasteland before moving on to the Disney universe to wreak havoc there. Mickey, Oswald and Gus attempt to use the rocket to reach the Blot, but end up crashing into Dark Beauty Castle after the Blot absorbs the rocket's paint. The three successfully manage to destroy the Blot, eliminating his exterior with paint-laden fireworks on Dark Beauty Castle, and rescue Mickey's heart from the inside. Oswald reunites with Ortensia and befriends Mickey, the two now possibly bonding with each other as brothers. With the Wasteland now regenerating, Mickey escapes back to Yen Sid's workshop and returns home through the mirror, which becomes sealed by Yen Sid to prevent Mickey from entering again and cause any more mischief.
Regardless of what choices Mickey made in the Wasteland (Yen Sid shows Mickey the positive outcomes or consequences of his major choices in the game), the ending after the credits is the same: Not long after the mirror is sealed, Mickey discovers that he still has some of the Shadow Blot's ink in him, leaving the possibility he may still be able to reach the Wasteland.
The creative development team at Buena Vista Games formed the original concept for Epic Mickey in 2003. When the concept was pitched to Bob Iger, then-president and COO, he lamented that Disney no longer owned the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and could not produce the game. Upon becoming CEO, he made it a goal to bring Oswald back to Disney. His chance came in 2006, when television sportscaster Al Michaels expressed interest in joining NBC (which had merged with Universal by this time) to call play-by-play for Sunday Night Football, even though he had just signed a long-term deal with Disney-owned ESPN to continue on Monday Night Football. Iger initiated a trade with NBC Universal that would allow Michaels to be released from his contract in exchange for the rights to Oswald and other minor assets. Disney Interactive Studios was unable to secure a developer for the game until 2007, when Disney acquired Junction Point Studios, Warren Spector's company.
The game was originally intended to be released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and its name was its working title. Development on the Wii started in 2008. When the idea of a Wii port of the game was raised, Spector replied that a straight Wii port would not be viable, remarking that many of the "design ideas just won't work on the Wii, we need to give the Wii its dues". Graham Hopper of Disney Interactive then suggested dropping the development of the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions completely, and instead releasing it solely on the Wii.
Concept art for the game by Fred Gambino and Gary Glover depicted a surrealistically bizarre look at Disney characters and locations in a steampunk environment (this art has been categorized as very preliminary concept art and it is not the style of the final game). Featured in the concept art are post-apocalyptic renditions of Goofy, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Captain Hook, Disneyland's Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Tea Party, Main Street, Tomorrowland, Mickey's Toontown, Donald Duck's boat, Astro Orbitor, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, It's a Small World, the Haunted Mansion, Epcot's Spaceship Earth, Disney's Hollywood Studios' "Earful Tower", The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Hong Kong Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Compared to the Kingdom Hearts series, a similar video game franchise created by Japanese video game company Square Enix, which combined modern-day Disney characters with their own Final Fantasy characters, Epic Mickey emphasizes retro-vintage and long-lost Disney characters that were created much earlier, and draws more plot elements from the film Fantasia, rather than Final Fantasy; in Kingdom Hearts II, a location in the game was based on the 1920s Steamboat Willie cartoon, but other than that, the rest of the game took its cast from more recently created characters.
Mickey receives a character redesign in this game, which attempts to give him a "retro" look, and the game uses an animation engine to replicate the stretchy athleticism of cartoons. The 2D cinematics were created by Powerhouse Animation Studios, Inc, and the game utilizes Emergent Game Technologies' Gamebryo Engine. Warren Spector has stated that Epic Mickey was planned as a trilogy. An early idea for the game was for Mickey to adopt an angrier look when he was played in the "scrapper" manner; this idea was dropped after Spector decided it changed Mickey too much from people's perceptions of the character. Mickey looks more smudged instead.
Marvel Comics has confirmed that there will be a comic for Epic Mickey, titled: Disney's Epic Mickey: Tales of the Wasteland. It will serve as a prequel to the game, focusing on Mickey's half-brother Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and give some insight on what the Wasteland was like before Mickey's appearance and the thinner disaster. Initially distributed on Disney's Digicomics platform for iOS products, a print version released in late-August 2011. An art book, The Art of Epic Mickey, also released in September 2011.[needs update] A U.S.-exclusive Epic Mickey Collector's Edition was announced that includes special packaging, special behind-the-scenes DVD, Mickey vinyl figure, a Wii Remote skin, and Wii console skins.
The game was leaked by warez groups weeks before its official release date. Epic Mickey marks Oswald's second appearance in video games after Férias Frustradas do Pica-Pau (released in Brazil only).
The music was composed by American composer James Dooley. In addition his original works, arranged versions of Disney music appears throughout the game, which in turn were recreations of older Disney cartoons. X-Play later named it "Best Soundtrack of 2010". Dooley's score was released digitally via iTunes and Amazon on December 21, 2010.
Writer Peter David, who in 2010 was an exclusive writer for Disney-owned Marvel Comics, wrote a graphic novel adaptation of Epic Mickey, and a prequel digicomic, Disney's Epic Mickey: Tales of Wasteland. Disney also promoted the release of the game with a launch party at the Times Square Disney Store in Manhattan on November 30, 2010, the day the game was released. Present at the party was designer Warren Spector, Peter David, and actors Jennifer Grey and Kyle Massey, who had recently completed the eleventh season of the U.S. Dancing with the Stars, which is broadcast on the Disney-owned ABC.
IGN gave it a score of 8/10, criticizing its camera, control issues and lack of voice acting, but praised its charm, story, art design, and lasting appeal for the players. Video game talk show Good Game's two presenters gave the game a 6 and 7 out of 10. They compared the paintbrush abilities to that of the water jet pack from Super Mario Sunshine and found it frustrating how the levels reset back to their original state after leaving. But on a positive note they said it "isn't as 'dark' or 'adult' as the hype made it out to be... I guess it is a kid's game after all, but at least it's an intelligent one. It doesn't come anywhere near the complexity and fun of something like Super Mario Sunshine, which I think it borrows some ideas from." Shirley Chase from GameZone complimented the game on its usage of Disney history, but added that the game had numerous flaws saying, "For all of its good points, Disney Epic Mickey does have some glaring flaws, which can make the game feel like a chore. The most noticeable problem is the camera, which will lead to more cheap deaths than anything else." In a review for GamesRadar, Chris Antista who began the article as an admitted "diehard Disney dork", praised it as a "thoroughly heartwarming salute to Disney" and that he hasn't "fallen so head over heels with the look, feel, and play of a third-person platformer since the original Banjo-Kazooie". G4TV also named it "Best Wii Game.", Giant Bomb gave a Negative review with 2/5 stars saying "Nevermind these heightened expectations, though: even on its own merits, Epic Mickey is a platformer that feels about a generation behind, though one with just enough flashes of inspiration to keep you constantly aware of its wasted potential".
In its opening weekend, Epic Mickey failed to reach the UK Top 40 and even the Wii Top 10 sales charts after its November 26 UK release. On November 30, 2010, the release date in North America, the game was completely sold out on the Disney Store website by the afternoon. The game sold 1.3 million copies its first month. As of June 2011[update], the game sold 2 million copies in North America and Europe combined.
On August 27, 2011, Destructoid posted an article that speculated that a sequel, Epic Mickey 2, is in development and showed possible box art for the game. These rumours were further encouraged when Disney France and Warren Spector invited the French media to an "epic project" taking place on March 27, 2012. Nintendo Power magazine also commented on the rumour, stating that their April 2012 issue would include a "top-secret" title preview, with the preview for the issue showing a cropped down picture of Oswald The Lucky Rabbit. Gametrailers.com also stated that their March 22, 2012 episode would include a "world-exclusive preview of Warren Spector's new epic adventure" and that it would be "notably significant". Warren Spector himself also commented on the game's development, revealing that he had "a team of over 700 people working on the sequel". Following this, on March 20, 2012 the official French Nintendo magazine posted a comment on Twitter, revealing that Disney had plans to create a companion to the main sequel for the 3DS, under the name Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion.
Warren Spector, on March 21, 2012, officially confirmed the rumours, revealing the sequel's title to be Epic Mickey: Power of Two. Spector also directly addressed the camera issues that reviewers criticised in the first game, stating that "They'll be working on it until the day we ship the second game. (There have been) over 1,000 specific changes made to the camera. Our goal is that you will not have to touch the manual camera controls even once to play through the main story path of this game." Spector also revealed that the game was to include voice acting and musical numbers, both of which were absent in the first game. Spector said: "I'm such a geek about musicals, I love the co-op and next-gen stuff, but for me, when a character breaks into song, which they do on a regular basis in this game, it's magic." Spector also commented on the sequel's co-op features, stating that: "It's drop-in, drop-out co-op, you can sit down at any time with a friend who is playing as Mickey, and you can take control of Oswald. If you're playing as a single player, Oswald will be there every second of the game. He's not just a multiplayer character. He's a helper, whether you're playing alone or with a friend or family member." Wasteland itself will feature old areas ruined by earthquakes and other natural disasters, as well as new areas such as one based on Disneyland's Frontierland.
It was released on Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Vita, and Wii U. Due to the sequel's poor sales, which fared even worse than its predecessor, Disney consequently closed down Junction Point and ended all potential for future titles and Disney Interactive Studios shut down in 2016.
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