It's the rumor which has got the gaming community buzzing.
That there's supposedly a "Disney Epic Mickey 2" in the works. Even better,
that the next videogame in this critically acclaimed series (which will
reportedly be available in the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii formats) will
allegedly allow players to chose between single-player and 2-player split screen
But before we start parsing the various rumors that are currently
making the rounds (i.e. That "Disney Epic Mickey 2" will allow gamers to
explore parts of the Wastelands that had initially been proposed for the first installment of this series
but ultimately got dropped. Take - for example - "Mickey
in Wonderland" ...
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
... an area based on Disney's Alice in Wonderland ... it was to
be a land ruled by the Red Queen and opposed by the Mad Hatter, the White
Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat).
More importantly, before the release of "Disney Epic Mickey
2" (which will supposedly hit store shelves just in time for the 2012 holiday
shopping season), I thought that it might be fun to take a look back at the design
& development of the first installment of this videogame series. Which is
why I cracked open that copy of "The Art of Epic Mickey" (Disney Editions,
October 2011) which Disney Publishing sent me late last year.
And this handsome 160-page hardcover really does take back
to the very start of this project. Back to when a group of interns at Disney
Interactive Media proposed reintroducing Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
to the world
as a game character.
We then jump ahead to 2005, when - as Warren Spector, the legendary
game designer for Junction Point Studios, was making the rounds - Mouse House
officials offered him the opportunity to create the ultimate Disney videogame
which was to pair Mickey with his long-lost half-brother, Oswald.
For a hardcore Disney fan like Spector, working on "Epic
Mickey" was a dream assignment because ...
... the Junction Point
team (could draw) inspiration - specific inspiration - from anything and
everything ever created at the Walt Disney Company.
Warren Spector and
Steamboat Willie himself. Photo by Paul Hifflemeyer. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Talk about a mother lode of material! Talk about fun!
We were like kids in a candy store, rummaging through the
Disney Archives on the Studio Lot, through the prop archives, through the
Imagineering Research Center and the Animation Research Library and the Disney
Consumer Products "Lounge." We devoured every book that we could get our hands
about Disney's history (and that's a lot of books, let me tell you!). We read
comic books, watched movies, read Big Little Books, played with toys. You name
it, we did it, Disney style.
We saw and even touched blueprints and color swatches for
buildings at Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A., models for film props (the
Nautilus from Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
was exquisite!), costumes out of
cherished childhood memory (a Mexican soldier's uniform with Zorro's "Z" sliced
through the jacket!), storyboards for films that were never made (The Gremlins
created by Roald Dahl) ...
Mickey and Gus the Gremlin
run into Clarabelle Cow in the Cartoon Wastelands. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Which isn't to say that it was all that easy to reinvent Mickey
(who - over the past 80 years - had lost much of the feistiness that had made
the Mouse so popular with moviegoers in the late 1920s / early 1930s) as a
viable "star" of a videogame. As Spector recalled:
We needed Mickey to look like a hero that you'd take
seriously if you were the bad guy. Early in development, we thought about some fairly radical
visual reinventions of the character. In making Mickey a more heroic figure
than many people expected him to be, we toyed with the idea of changing his
classic proportions - making him more of an adolescent in a sense.
I would have gone with this fellow as the player character.
At the end of the day, through, we were making a Mickey Mouse game and this
fellow, appealing as he was, just didn't "read" as Mickey Mouse.
Though it was a promising direction, it wasn't "Mickey enough." Cool as this
image is, we decided that we'd gone too far and pulled back a bit to a more traditional
Mickey. So we looked to other character elements to up his hero quotient.
Warren and the development team at Junction Point Studios
had the same sort of issues when it came to coming up with just the right look
for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. You see, one of the key plot threads of "Epic
Mickey" that these two half-brothers don't exactly get along. That Oswald is genuinely
upset that he was left behind & forgotten while Mickey went on to worldwide
renown & stardom. So some of the earliest designs that the Disney intern
group came up with for this game character actually reflected that inner
In the end, Spector opted to step away from that angry take
on this game character. Though given the role that Mickey played in the
creation of the Cartoon Wastelands, it's easy to understand why Oswald might be
furious with his half-brother.
As Austin Grossman, the co-writer of "Epic Mickey" explains:
In the wizard's castle, Mickey knocks over a jug of thinner,
drenching Wasteland. For Mickey, it was just a moment's carelessness, but for
Wastelanders, it was one of the defining moments in their history. Their world
was devastated, transformed in an instant from a continent to a group of
islands in a sea of corrosive thinner. This adds another element to Wasteland's
look. It's been ruined, scarred, and half-dissolved in many places.
The Cartoon Wastelands before
and after the thinner spill. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights
(Mickey) also creates the Blot, a sentient mixture of the
magic paint and thinner substances, who becomes an unstoppable, marauding
The Blot was another example of how Warren and the Junction
Point Studios took a classic piece of Disneyana (In this case the Phantom Blot,
that mysterious hooded figure who's been battling Mickey Mouse ever since the Blot
first appeared in the Mickey Mouse comic strip back in May of 1939) and then
turned it into something exciting & new for the videogame world.
Because - as you know - a hero is only as good as the
villain that he's going up against. So in order for videogamers to buy Mickey
as an epic hero, the Phantom Blot then had to be reinvented as a genuinely
That's the real fun of paging through "The Art of Epic
Mickey." In essence, Spector and Grossman take you through Junction Point
Studios' entire creative process on this project. The discussions that they had
with Disney Interactive Media Group executives about how far was too far when
it came to reimagining the Company's classic characters.
So if you'd like to get a sense of how this acclaimed
videogame was actually put together ...
Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved
... More importantly, perhaps glean some information about the other parts of Cartoon Wastelands that "Disney
Epic Mickey 2" might possibly visit ...
Rumored cover art for the "Disney
Epic Mickey 2" game box. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
... then you should probably consider picking up a copy of
this well-written, fun-to-look-through coffee table book.
I hope the rumors are true and there really will be an Epic Mickey 2. My husband and I love Epic Mickey, the game has many twists and turns, the music is fantastic, and it's also visually stunning. While my husband actually plays the game I find myself more interested in all of the behind the scenes stuff. :) Love it!
VERY interesting article! Epic Mickey truly was, in my opinion, an excellent way to "bring Mickey back" and reinstate him as something other than the smiley host of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Channel today.
This book looks fascinating.... How the general public get ahold of a copy?
The first game was fun, until the camera angles killed it
And we all thought Warren Spector only made awesome games. Epic Mickey wasn´t bad but disapointed in gameplay depth, length and the best artwork didn´t made it into the game.
Thankfully the game now comes to better HD consoles and I hope they learned from theire mistakes and make it the game it could be.