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10-29-2009, 07:31 PM
We got our first look at Epic Mickey, Warren Spector's take on the world's most famous mouse.

http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2003/all/boxshots2/975515_142759.jpg

"Am I making Mickey cool today?" asks games guru Warren Spector at a recent preview event for Epic Mickey. Judging by what we saw of his latest project--a platformer-cum-adventure game--the world's most famous rodent may be about to reach levels of cool so high only the Fonz could top them.

http://image.com.com/gamespot/images//2009/300/975515_20091028_embed004.jpg (http://uk.gamespot.com/wii/adventure/epicmickey/images/6238347/4/?path=%2F2009%2F300%2F975515_20091028_embed004.jpg&caption=Mickeys%2Bback%252C%2Band%2Bthis%2Btime.%2 BIt%2527s%2Bpersonal.&cvr=gco%2F)Mickeys back, and this time. It's personal. (http://uk.gamespot.com/wii/adventure/epicmickey/images/6238347/4/?path=%2F2009%2F300%2F975515_20091028_embed004.jpg&caption=Mickeys%2Bback%252C%2Band%2Bthis%2Btime.%2 BIt%2527s%2Bpersonal.&cvr=gco%2F)




Warren Spector is Epic Mickey's creative director and somewhat of a legend in gaming, thanks to the critically acclaimed System Shock and Deus Ex. The game is based on real-life events at Disney, imagined from the cartoon's perspective. Spector explained that Walt Disney did not like to throw anything away, even if it was not a success for him. This led to a huge archive of forgotten characters, old sketches, and even theme park rides at Disney. It's these forgotten cartoon relics that the game's world is based upon, containing characters, levels, and objects from the archive.

In the virtual world of Epic Mickey, that archive has been damaged by a combination of paint and thinner, which creates an evil being called the Phantom Blot. The Blot kidnaps Mickey and brings him into the damaged world, which sports a dark and lonely look. It is intertwined with the bright Disney style we're used to--what Spector calls "whimsically twisted." Here, Mickey is introduced to the other main protagonist in the game, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is a character that was originally drawn by Disney but was lost to Universal in a contract dispute in 1929. Envying his now famous brother Mickey Mouse's success, he becomes bitter and resentful, which transforms Oswald into the Blot's evil puppet. In addition to Oswald, Mickey will have to fend off "spatters," strange paintlike blobs that are littered across the world. Oswald also has children, which, much to his chagrin, love Mickey. We were told that Oswald's children and spatters didn't mix well and were treated to a cute animation of one of the rabbit children eating a spatter in a less than delicate manner. Another character, the Mad Doctor, has also created enemies called beetleworx, which resemble cartoon-style cars with arms and legs--kind of like a Disney take on transformers.

http://image.com.com/gamespot/images//2009/300/975515_20091028_embed001.jpg (http://uk.gamespot.com/wii/adventure/epicmickey/images/6238347/1/?path=%2F2009%2F300%2F975515_20091028_embed001.jpg&caption=Beetleworx%2Bare%2Bone%2Bof%2Bthe%2Btoughe r%2Benemies.&cvr=9.c.)Beetleworx are one of the tougher enemies. (http://uk.gamespot.com/wii/adventure/epicmickey/images/6238347/1/?path=%2F2009%2F300%2F975515_20091028_embed001.jpg&caption=Beetleworx%2Bare%2Bone%2Bof%2Bthe%2Btoughe r%2Benemies.&cvr=9.c.)




We watched a demo of the game in action, which showed off some of the new characters, missions, and Mickey's interactions with the world. The game is played from a third-person perspective, much like such platformers as Mario Galaxy and Ratchet & Clank. Mickey interacts with the world via a unique system known as paint and thinner. Mickey can erase parts of the world with the thinner, which opens up previously hidden pathways and objects. Paint is used to fill in parts of the world, creating platforms and objects, which can be used to solve puzzles. Another item we saw was a clock sketch. This enabled Mickey to slow down time in the game and can be combined with the paint and thinner abilities to open up new areas. An example we were shown involved a huge spinning fan blocking a path, which Spector explained had five different solutions, depending on the ability you choose to use.

The use of abilities affects not just the gameworld, but also how characters react to you and the appearance of Mickey himself. Players that avoid using too much thinner and combat will get a happy and helpful Mickey. The game's characters are also more inclined to give him items and quests. Conversely, if you choose to go around destroying everything in your path with thinner, your character will transform into Scrappy Mickey. His appearance changes; he becomes thinner and more agile, with his destructive abilities getting a boost. However, you lose the help from other characters, who Spector said were important to the overall story and would affect the outcome of the game.

We also saw another famous Disney character making an appearance, though in a twisted way. One of the ongoing tasks in the game is to assemble Donald Duck, who is now a cyborg, with one-half of his body having robotic arms and legs. Mickey has to find parts scattered across the level, though he does not necessarily have to assemble Donald. He is able to trade them with the gremlins, who offer him improved abilities as payment, though we weren't told of the repercussions for doing so.

http://image.com.com/gamespot/images//2009/300/975515_20091028_embed006.jpg (http://uk.gamespot.com/wii/adventure/epicmickey/images/6238347/6/?path=%2F2009%2F300%2F975515_20091028_embed006.jpg&caption=The%2Benvironments%2Bcombine%2Bdark%2Belem ents%2Bwith%2Bbright%2Bcartoon%2Bimagery.&cvr=E4J%2F)The environments combine dark elements with bright cartoon imagery. (http://uk.gamespot.com/wii/adventure/epicmickey/images/6238347/6/?path=%2F2009%2F300%2F975515_20091028_embed006.jpg&caption=The%2Benvironments%2Bcombine%2Bdark%2Belem ents%2Bwith%2Bbright%2Bcartoon%2Bimagery.&cvr=E4J%2F)




Much has been made of the game's darker setting, and the art style is definitely a departure from the usual Disney fare. The environments are rendered in 3D, though everything has a distinct cartoony look. The darker backgrounds are blended with bright objects, creating the twisted look that Spector is working toward. Applying paint and thinner looks great, with huge swaths of colour splashing across the screen. There are also 2D elements to the game, such as the cutscenes, which are rendered in a storyboard sketch style. Some of the platforming sections are also in 2D, though they still employ 3D character models. They re-create some of Mickey's most famous cartoons, and it's promised that a whole host of these will make it into the game.

From our brief look at Epic Mickey, it seems the game is well on its way to making Mickey cool again. "We need to remind Mickey he is a hero" says Spector. If anything, this game is reminding us that the world's most famous mouse definitely has some life left in him yet.

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"Wii | Epic Mickey First Impressions (http://www.gamespot.com/wii/adventure/epicmickey/news.html?sid=6238347)" was posted by Mark Walton on Thu, 29 Oct 2009 06:08:30 -0700


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