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Epic Mickey

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E3: Disney's Epic Mickey 2 releasing November 18, 2012


Jun 05
// Jason Cabral
[Update: Check out the behind the scenes trailer!] Just in time for Thanksgiving, and the inevitable Black Friday rush, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two will be hitting stores on November 18, 2012. The game will aga...
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The DTOID Show: Borderlands, Aliens, and SPACE BATTLES!


Apr 04
// Tara Long
Not all at the same time, of course. That would be a little too badass, even for you. It doesn't mean there's not plenty to be excited about, though! Today's Destructoid Show covers a lot of topics, including discussion...
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You aren't ready: Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion screens


Apr 04
// Jordan Devore
No offense to the console-bound Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, but looking over these screenshots, I'm much more eager to play Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. Visually speaking, this 3DS platformer is everythi...

Sing it! Gaming's greatest musicals

Apr 02 // Allistair Pinsof
[embed]224916:43234:0[/embed] Marl Kingdom Series The first thing that comes to my mind when I think "musical" and "videogame" is Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. Perhaps it's because it has the word "musical" right in its title? This effeminate, brief RPG didn't make publisher Atlus much money when it was released on the PlayStation in '98, but it has built up a loyal cult following over the years. Even when the game was re-released a decade later for DS, there was still little else to compare this strange musical JRPG to. The game performed much better overseas, where there was a market more receptive to the game's blend of strategy, RPG, and twee musical numbers. In fact, developer Nippon Ichi turned it into a series with two Japan-only sequels: Little Princess: The Puppet Princess of Marl Kingdom 2 and Tenshi no Present: A Marl Kingdom Story. In these games, key plot elements and dialog are sung to a backing track. Rhapsody even let players select the language of the lyrics and the ability to mute it altogether. The game's goofy story, young female cast, and tactical elements didn't exactly set the world on fire, but they marked the first time a game boldly declared itself a musical and lived up to the title. [embed]224916:43235:0[/embed] PaRappa the Rapper SeriesHow could you forget the first time you heard "Kick, punch, it's all in the mind!" at Chop Chop Master Onion's dojo? Masaya Matsuura's peculiar music series helped Sony stand out in the early days of the PlayStation. While the three games (PaRappa 1 & 2, UmJammer Lammy) have stage performances that contextualize the singing, most of the musical numbers are absurd and make no sense at all, no matter how you approach them. From a heavy metal airplane pilot to a Rasta frog, the PaRappa series brought numerous outlandish characters and scenarios to life with songs that were so good they made it worth playing each game twice, if not many more times. Considering how much of these games are based around song, this series may be the closest games have ever come to having a full-on musical and not a genre game with musical scenes spliced in every couple of hours. On the other hand, each of these games only lasts a couple of hours. [embed]224916:43236:0[/embed] The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge - Boss Fights You know, there is only one way to make a decade-late, Devil May Cry-inspired Capcom sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas any stranger: have the boss fights center around song-and-dance routines (controlled through a rhythm mini-game). It's a weird combination, but it's one that has stuck with some people throughout the years, including our own Jim Sterling. [embed]224916:43238:0[/embed] The Curse of Monkey Island - Singing Pirates The Monkey Island series has a lot of great moments, but one of my favorites is the singing pirates scene in The Curse of Monkey Island. Between Guybrush's disgruntled quips (that you choose!) and the pirates' derpy dance animations, it always puts a smile on my face. Not sure if I'd want a full game of this kind of thing, but it's fun while it lasts. [embed]224916:43239:0[/embed] Conker's Bad Fur Day - The Great Mighty Poo The Great Mighty Poo is the only thing I can remember about Conker's Bad Fur Day for good reason: it's one of the most disgusting, bizarre WTF moments ever put into a game. If you didn't have it spoiled for you, it was a real shocker. With lyrics allegedly co-written by Weird Al Yankovic (under the alias Ed Horowitz) and a catchy operatic melody, this tune went a long way in giving Conker its South Park-lite identity that made so many love or hate it. [embed]224916:43240:0[/embed] Patapon & LocoRoco Series Both Patapon and LocoRoco were early reasons to buy a PSP. They also were both musicals in a bizarre sort of way. They each feature strange, lovable characters who sing their way to victory, collecting items and defeating enemies along the way. Sure, they sing in gibberish, but singing to music still counts as a musical, no? To be honest, it's such an abstract take on the format that I didn't even consider listing these games until Jonathan Holmes made the suggestion. [embed]224916:43241:0[/embed] Kingdom Hearts 2 - "Under the Sea" Sequence Okay, this really feels like cheating, but I'm going to throw it in anyway. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Are there any obvious picks I forgot to list? Are you as indifferent to musicals as I am? Does Disney Epic Mickey 2's being a musical make you excited or worried?
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You can't get more flamboyant than a musical, so it should be no surprise that the predominantly masculine worlds of videogames don't often let their characters burst into song. After all, gunning down terrorists in the Mi...

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YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. ...

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Epic Mickey 2 lead platform is Wii, 3DS version confirmed


Mar 25
// Tony Ponce
GamesRadar has uploaded a nearly five-minute walkthrough of the upcoming Epic Mickey 2, demonstrating the 360 build and the new drop-in, drop-out co-op. GR has confirmed suspicions that the Wii version is the lead platform. ...
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Epic Mickey 2 is 'the first musical comedy game'


Mar 23
// Dale North
At Epic Mickey 2's announcement press conference in Austin last week, Junction Point's Senior Creative Director, Warren Spector, surprised attending press members by calling the game "the first musical comedy game in the hist...
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Epic Mickey 2: The three biggest issues addressed


Mar 23
// Dale North
At Epic Mickey 2's announcement press conference last week, Junction Point's Warren Spector talked about how the three biggest issues in Epic Mickey have been addressed for the upcoming sequel, which takes the Mouse and his p...

Preview: Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

Mar 23 // Allistair Pinsof
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii)Developer: Junction PointPublisher: Disney Interactive StudiosRelease: Fall 2012 The announcement of the first Epic Mickey left me scratching my head. “The co-creator of System Shock is making a Mickey Mouse game revolving around moral choices and platforming?” I said. Then I said it again and tried slapping myself awake. Despite all odds, this pairing worked in terms of aesthetics and storytelling. Spector’s love letter to Disney’s origins was a dark, ambitious vision that stood out despite attached labels like “Wii game” and “kid-friendly.” Spector proved himself, once again, to be a master in world building and orchestrating a journey that becomes personal through decision-making and character investment. On the other hand, Spector and his then-freshly-faced studio managed to partially fail at problems that 3D platformers overcame a decade before Disney Epic Mickey’s release. Our own Jonathan Holmes said it best in his review: It's ironic that the game's writing does such a great job of showing off its characters from multiple angles, while the in-game camera has the horrid tendency to auto-adjust to the most unhelpful positions. A New Coat of Paint When you mention Epic Mickey’s sore points, Spector doesn’t talk around those issues. He talks directly about them. Or, more specifically, how they are being addressed in The Power of Two. The biggest improvement in the sequel is the camera. In the original, players struggled to find a proper angle after fiddling with the controls. In Epic Mickey 2, players won’t even have to manually adjust the camera if they wish to follow only the main path. Junction Point wants players to always have a perfect view of the world and action without laying a finger on the camera buttons. With a dedicated team making 1,000+ changes to the camera, the results need to be seen in action to be appreciated. Most players will still adjust the camera in order to explore and discover hidden items, but it never is a necessity. Outside the larger hub areas, I didn’t feel a need to use the D-pad camera controls. The demo lacked any intensive platforming or combat segments, so it’s hard to say that the new system will work flawlessly under pressure. At the very least, Junction Point is taking this concern seriously. A new camera is nice, but you know what’s better? Color. HD color! I liked Epic Mickey’s art direction in concept more than execution. The scale of Epic Mickey was impressive for a Wii title, but the game had a murky, dull look to it that soured the immersion. The sequel, in contrast, is a cheerful, primary-colored world that is a joy to explore. The 2D sections return with more depth in the background, and the 3D sections are populated with the nostalgic architecture found in old Disney films. The lighting effects and new models are a step up from the original, but Epic Mickey 2 doesn’t look up to par with modern current-gen offerings. Its origins as a Wii title are pretty transparent. However, other modern platformers don’t have worlds as lively, detailed, and inviting as this. Let’s just hope the nasty lag in the demo is a temporary bump in the road and not a long-term challenge. Partners in Crime How do you make a game better? More stuff, of course! More challenge! More places! More players? Why not? Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, ruler of the Wasteland, was a big part of Epic Mickey, and he plays an even larger role in the sequel. Oswald will accompany you throughout your adventure and use his electric remote to paralyze enemies and operate machinery. The character is controlled by an advanced A.I. system that works without player direction. However, at any time, a second player can take the computer’s role and control Oswald. Along with doing some basic moves, Oswald can also help Mickey with co-op specific abilities, such as a vertical toss that helps Mickey reach high places and a Banjo-Kazooie-esque propeller spin to glide across a gap. It’s nice to have some help in combat, but I don’t see why Oswald needs to be gimped. Though the rabbit can paralyze enemies, it’s up to Mickey to defeat or save them with his own devices. No matter how you play, it will be Mickey’s decisions that make up the adventure; Oswald is just along for the ride. Hopefully, he won’t get in our way while we make the tough calls as Mickey. A Musical JourneyAs if the original didn’t have enough genres attached to it (RPG, platformer, action-adventure), Epic Mickey adds one more: musical.Throughout the game, players will be serenaded by songs from a notable cast singing tunes by returning series composer Jim Dooley and songwriter Mike Himelstein (Shrek, Dorothy of Oz). The developer and publisher claim that Epic Mickey 2 is the first videogame musical, but it’s a tough call to make until we see the context and frequency of these songs. There wasn’t any singing to be found in the demo. However, the opening cinematic finds The Mad Doctor returning to sing a song (“Help Me Help You,” he repeats). It’s no instant classic, but it’s not grating, either. Spector has professed his love of musicals before, so I expect these scenes will be made with a lot of heart and musical history in mind. What's more exciting to me is that the game will have a full voice cast. No longer will characters’ words be paired with N64-era sound loops. Now, each character -- even those who never had a voice in Disney’s history -- will speak their dialog. The full voice cast hasn’t been announced at this time, but we do know that Frank Welker (Transformers) will be playing the role of Oswald. Along with the jump to HD, voice acting can go a long way in making the world of Epic Mickey more contemporary and inviting. Hitting the Right Notes The demo I played was a brief taste of what’s to come. As a result, it’s hard to get a good impression of just how far these improvements will go in making a superior sequel. The demo consisted of three segments: a tutorial, a 2D side-scrolling stage, and an open area filled with characters with conflicting requests for the player. The tutorial stage left the strongest impression, showing off the revamped art direction (in HD) and camera. The camera turned smoothly by itself (think Uncharted) while I climbed up into the stars, as the game recreated a memorable scene from Fantasia. This soon led into a brick cellar area where lovingly animated personified mops flung water from high above (à la The Sorcerer's Apprentice). It was a beautiful moment that spoke to me more than any of the Steamboat Willie sections of the previous game. Then again, I fell asleep to Fantasia every night as a kid! Speaking of the 2D Steamboat Willie sections, Epic Mickey 2’s side-scrolling section in the demo was a step forward in both visuals and design. The following open-world segment, however, was a bit less impressive. The combat of the first, love it or hate it, didn’t seem to have undergone any significant changes. Within a small hub in Frontierland, Mickey and Oswald could take on a few different objectives. I found the camera problematic in this area, when played in split-screen co-op. With half a screen, it was hard to get a good view of the action. It may be unfair to expect the camera to work as well in co-op as it does in single-player, but ... it sure would be nice, wouldn't it? Junction Point may have jumped the gun in showing off Epic Mickey 2 a little bit early, but it still has a lot of promise in being a brighter, bolder, and bigger sequel. Between its beautiful HD colors and lively setting, The Power of Two presents a joyful world that I can’t wait to jump into and explore. Here’s hoping Epic Mickey 2 has us singing its praises when it arrives this fall.
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From the unexpected original to the inevitable sequel, Mickey Mouse and veteran game designer Warren Spector are on a strange ride together. With characters breaking into song for musical segments, full voice acting, split...

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Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two confirmed for 360/PS3/Wii


Mar 21
// Jordan Devore
Talk of a sequel to Epic Mickey has been going around for what feels like quite a while -- I was almost starting to get worried. This week, the game was shown off to media. We'll have a full preview for Disney Epic Mickey 2: ...
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Looks like Epic Mickey 2 may be in development


Aug 27
// Jonathan Holmes
According to an anonymous Dtoid reader, Epic Mickey 2 is currently being gauged by Disney via online marketing. There are a lot of specifics here, which is always nice. That doesn't mean that the game is definitely going to h...
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Amazon goes gaming in today's Gold Box


Jan 18
// Conrad Zimmerman
Amazon has cooled their heels with the promotions now that the big holiday shopping season is over. I still check daily for deals but there's never anything I would waste your time with. Until this morning, that is, when I'm ...
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Epic Mickey soundtrack coming December 21st


Dec 15
// Dale North
The Disney Epic Mickey soundtrack by Emmy winning composer Jim Dooley will be available on iTunes and other digital music services starting on December 21. Released by Walt Disney Records, this digital score will feature 20 t...
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Spector pleased with negative reviews


Dec 10
// Jim Sterling
Despite claiming earlier this week that reviews "didn't understand" Disney Epic Mickey, designer Warren Spector also stated that he's happy with the varying reviews for his game. According to Spector, he'd rather have sp...
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Spector won't admit that Epic Mickey isn't golden spunk


Dec 08
// Jim Sterling
Disney Epic Mickey was released recently and it wasn't perfect. With rather dull 3D platforming and a terrible camera, it had its problems for sure. Warren Spector doesn't think so. In fact, he refuses to believe the camera i...
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Play Epic Mickey in style with signature caps


Nov 29
// Nick Chester
If you're wondering what you're going to be wearing on your head when you play Disney's Epic Mickey this week, here's the solution to your conundrum. New Era is releasing its latest signature 59FIFTY cap this week featuring a...
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Mickey spunks all over the map in this trailer


Nov 25
// Maurice Tan
Here's another Epic Mickey trailer that shows some actual gameplay, instead of showing a bunch of people talk about why it's relevant to Disney fans. He sure loves to get his paint all over the world. If you're wondering whe...

Review: Disney Epic Mickey

Nov 25 // Jonathan Holmes
Disney Epic Mickey (Wii)Developer: Junction PointPublisher: Disney InteractiveTo be released: Nov. 25, 2010 (Europe), Nov. 30, 2010 (U.S.)MSRP: $49.99Epic Mickey is not your typical Disney game. In fact, in most ways, it's the exact opposite of what I expected. With Disney, I almost take it for granted that the storyline is going to be a throwaway, packed with one-dimensional characters, but top quality craftsmanship will make up for whatever issues I have with the narrative content. With Epic Mickey, the exact opposite was true. If it weren't for the storyline, I probably wouldn't have wanted to finish this game. Like I said in this preview, Epic Mickey is a love letter to the forgotten and/or ignored side of Disney's legacy. You wont see any references to the High School Musical or Aladin in this game. Instead, you'll see recreations of black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons, the return of long buried or rejected Disney characters, and more of a general sense of reverence for Disney's history that you're likely to find on the Disney channel. It's a lot like the old 16-bit platformer Mickey Mania, except it goes much deeper. The game takes place in the "The Wasteland"; a fairly accurate recreation of rides and attractions at Disneyland, inhabited by both animatronic and hand drawn characters birthed from Disney's hand. The Wasteland is Disney through the childhood eyes of Warren Spector, the director of Epic Mickey. It's the opportunity to see Disney through this revered perspective that makes Epic Mickey worth playing. Mr. Spector is a master game designer, and he considers the animations, animatronics, and amusement park design of Walt Disney Land to be the building blocks of what good videogame design is today. There is a lot to that statement, more than I could possibly hope to shoehorn into this review. For the sake of brevity, I'll just say that the underlying architectural concepts and the adherence to a strict standard of quality are just the start of Disney's influence on Spector. Perhaps more than anything else, it's probably Disney's lifelong passion for bringing dreams to life that has driven Spector to create this game. Spector and his team at Junction Point have clearly worked hard to harness Disney's spirit of imagination, but sadly, they've come up with mixed results. I'd be lying if I said that Epic Mickey has more raw creative power than modern-day cartoons like Adventure Time or games like Super Mario Galaxy 2. Sure, there is definitely something to be said for Epic Mickey's reoccurring theme of fusing classic Disneyland attractions (like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean) with classic Disney films (like Tron and Peter Pan), but the fusion of two familiar ideas doesn't really equate a new idea. For the most part, it feels more like fan service than ingenuity. That's the start of how Spector's faithfulness to Disney's past is both a blessing and a curse. While his love for the source material is in itself a powerful thing, it also limits exactly what Spector and his team can do with the game. You wont see much here that you haven't already seen in a Disney cartoon or a Disney theme park. Even with that limitation to work with, Epic Mickey still makes a strong effort to prioritize imagination above all else. Instead of presenting the player with a bevy of new ideas to ingest, the game instead tasks it's audience to play to activate their own imaginations. Epic Mickey is really a collaboration in game design between the developer and the player. It's up to you to help create the game's world on the fly. How you go about that will have lasting implications on both your experience with the game, and the game's experience with you.Epic Mickey combines the basic building blocks of the 2D/3D platformer with the capacity to create and destroy the platforms around you. You can jump, double jump, and spin attack, but you can also create and destroy select walls, floors and objects with "paint and thinner". Point the Wii remote at the screen and press B and you shoot paint, which can be used to befriend enemies, color the environment, and create new objects out of thin air. Point and press Z, and you shoot thinner, which can dissolve enemies, destroy walls, and melt NPCs in to half-puddle piles of mush. That thinner idea is the edge of a larger, darker side to Epic Mickey. The game never strays out of kid-friendly territory, but it comes close. The game never quite evokes the brave sense of distortion found in that production art leaked forever ago, but there is no discounting the guts it took to pack the game with talking, disembodied heads of Disney favorites such as Goofy, Donald, and Daisy. The game works to tinge your experience with an underlying sense of dread in multiple other ways. Everything from a reoccurring theme of heart removal to the warped, creaky distortion on the old music that plays during Epic Mickey's 2D levels, there are a lot of little touches that work to balance the Disney sugar with some Grimm's Fairytales-style spice. More than anything that Junction Point provides to the player, it's the players own actions that allow for Epic Mickey to go to the dark side. Almost every enemy and every puzzle in the game can be handled with either paint or thinner. Your decisions will alter the game's story, Mickey's power-ups, and the world around him. They also alter Mickey's appearance, in what is my favorite visual idea in the game. The more thinner-villainy you engaging in, the more Mickey's appearance drips paint off of his body and into the sky. It's a really cool visual metaphor for Mickey losing himself. I wish the game had more stuff like that. The paint/thinner difference is more than skin deep. The game works really hard to make the paint solutions totally different from the thinner solutions. The "good" method of solving a problem (usually involving paint instead of thinner) is generally much harder to figure out and implement, which adds a lot of depth and re-playability to the game, particularly with the bosses. I'd go as far as to say that a lot times, Epic Mickey feels like two games in one, the "paint" game and the "thinner" game. It's up to you to choose which you want to play. Speaking of the game's story, it's definitely my favorite part of the game. Mickey is not the generic, one-dimensional cartoon hero that you might expect him to be. He has a complicated relationship with the Wasteland, particularly with its ruler, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Like us, Mickey doesn't always know who these characters are. He feels guilty about that, but also confused, and at times, threatened. Likewise, Oswald feels a combination of envy, disrespect, and brotherly love with Mickey that is in no way simple. For over fifty years, Oswald and the rest of the Wasteland has watched as Mickey Mouse has gone on to gain the love and adoration of the entire world, while the Wasteland has sat alone in obscurity, left to fend for itself. How does Mickey handle a situation where he's the outsider, and maybe even the villain? Will Oswald give in to his bitterness and jealousy towards Mickey? Should he? These are the kinds of questions that you can only ask about a dynamic, three dimensional relationship. I don't remember myself ever asking those questions about a feature-length Disney cartoon. In that way, Epic Mickey has already outdone many of the films that inspired it. It's ironic that the game's writing does such a great job of showing off its characters from multiple angles, while the in-game camera has the horrid tendency to auto-adjust to the most unhelpful positions. I never would have guessed that a game backed by a huge company like Disney would flop on one of the basics of 3D platformer design. Sometimes the camera it will automatically swing to an angle to the point where you can't see anything but the floor or the ceiling. Worse, you can't always manually adjust the camera which means you're stuck looking at the floor, hoping that if you can survive long enough to get to somewhere else on the map, that the camera will auto-adjust itself to a sane position. This leads to quite a few unfair deaths. I was also killed more than a few times by the fact that after you take a hit, you can't move and you don't go into an invincibility stun. That means that enemies can easily combo you to death. The game is loaded with checkpoints, so death is never that big of a hindrance, but it's still irritating, especially given the game's pedigree. Junction Point could have done better.As for level design, the game is a mixed bag, swaying between mediocre to great ideas. I definitely had more fun with the Mickey Mania-esque 2D levels (which generally work as portals between different areas) than I did with the 3D bits (which make up the bulk of the game) mostly because I'm generally more into a linear approach to platforming. I also wasn't the biggest fan of the game's many fetch quests. Most of them are optional (allowing you to snag one of the game's hundreds of collectibles, including two classic Disney cartoons), but sometimes they are mandatory. That's not always a bad thing. A few of them were a lot of fun. Others were just annoying, particularly because they did so little to instruct me as to what I needed to find, and where I needed to find it. Looking in random places for flowers for twenty minutes was not that fun, and running around with a pack of Oswald's children until I discovered by accident that I was supposed to lead them to a drainpipe that illogically worked like a vacuum cleaner, just felt cheap. That speaks to another issue I had with Epic Mickey. The pacing definitely feels a bit off. Mixing up the 2D and 3D levels is a great idea, but the 2D levels usually feel too short, and the 3D levels too long. It's great that the 3D levels are so expansive and inviting. It's easy to get lost in them, exploring and finding new areas and pick ups with a Metroid-like sense of discovery. There is also a wide variety of enemies to take on. Figuring out the best method of taking them out is always a fun challenge. That said, the 3D levels can also feel like a slog at times. There are too few milestones, often times leaving you feeling like you've got nothing to show for your exploration. Every area does introduce a new item you can use (time-slowing clocks, T.V.s, etc) but they generally feel tacked on and forgettable. Swapping them out for more interesting power-ups, and adding more boss battles, greater variety of environmental hazards, and other fresh and interesting challenges would have done a lot to help the game compete head-to-head with the Wii's best action/adventure titles. In terms of graphics and sound, the game sometimes comes close to Nintendo 1st party titles, mostly thanks to the excellent art direction. Again, it's technical problems, not the ideas behind them, that hold the game back. The character animation is consistently great, but it's hampered by occasional frame rate dips. The texture work is inconsistent. Some enemies and areas look great, while others look glaringly out of place. As for the soundtrack, it ranges from purely atmospheric to downright catchy, though much of the score is ultimately unmemorable. Epic Mickey falls short of brilliance, but because it stands on such a strong concept, it doesn't always need brilliance to remain compelling. This is a game that older (and younger) Disney fans could easily call their favorite of all time. If due to your age (or lack of interest in videogames) you've never played better designed, better paced, better looking Wii titles in the same genre, you might see Epic Mickey as a work of pure genius. In a way, it's my own lack of reverence for Disney in general, and my over-indulgence in gaming's greatest titles, that limits my ability to enjoy Epic Mickey. That said, there was still a lot for me to love here. While I rarely had a mind-blowing experience with the game, I still had a hard time putting it down, even after multiple cheap deaths and boring fetch quests. The way Epic Mickey engages the player as an active participant in the design process is extremely compelling, as is the surprisingly sharp and emotionally wrought storyline. A mixed bag like this is hard to score. Parts of the game are definitely a 4, while other bits are a 10, with a whole lot of stuff in-between. Guess I'll split the difference and go for a...
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Every year, there are one or two high profile 3rd party Wii games that aspire to actually shoot for mainstream acceptance. There are a lot of reasons why these games are so few and far between, not the least of which being ...

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Junction Point digs into archives for Epic Mickey


Nov 23
// Nick Chester
If you're a fan of Disney and Disney Animation, Junction Point's Epic Mickey -- which hits shelves next week in North America, exclusively for the Wii -- should be a real treat. Junction Point's Warren Spector and company ta...

Preview: Disney Epic Mickey

Nov 09 // Jonathan Holmes
Before playing the game, we in the gaming press were treated to some 50-year-old-plus Disney shorts, the kind that used used to proceed feature length movies in the theaters. The older these cartoons got, the less they had any sort of discernible story, and the more they focused solely on showing us how beautiful a simple animation can be. These are cartoons that were created in a time when making a drawing move around on a screen was in itself a magical thing, more exciting than anything going on with technology today. Under that perception, animators felt obliged to pack their films with as much magic as possible, and to them, magic came in the form of "cartoon logic"; arms suddenly stretching to enormous lengths, birds transplanting their wings from their bodies to their heads, that sort of thing. More than any one particular character, imagination was really the star of classic Disney cartoons. That's not the only thing that set these cartoons apart from the stuff Disney turns out these days. a lot of these films also had a weird, almost seedy undercurrent to them. It wasn't uncommon to see Mickey try to force some kisses on Minnie (while she giggled and ran away), or for Minnie to be out on the town with two young mouse-children, with no father in sight. That semi-sexual weirdness was even more evident in the cartoons starring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit; Walt Disney's first animation super star. Before he created Mickey, Disney worked for Universal, where he created Oswald; a hornier, crazier rodent protagonist than his younger brother Mickey. Oswald had several different girlfriends, some of them from different species. Pretty weird stuff by "kid friendly" cartoon standards. It was clear from my time with Epic Mickey that Warren Spector is aiming to make a game which captures that glorification of animation for animation's sake, and the rejection of normalcy that comes with it. This is a strange game; much more surreal than I'm used to seeing from a Western developer, let a lone one as clean cut as Disney. For example, a few hours into the game, you'll be attacked by groups of cute little blue bunnies. As it turns out, these bunnies are all Oswald's children; all 420 of them, presumably birthed out of wedlock by Oswald's cat-girlfriend. These little creatures can't be easily stopped. The only way I could subdue them was by turning on a nearby television -- which, conveniently enough -- was playing Mickey Mouse's Steamboat Willy on a constant loop. The sight of a functioning television drew the bunny/cat bi-species brethren right off my back. Once they had a show to watch, they ignored me completely, totally transfixed by moving drawings on the television screen. Other than the bunnies, there seems to be two types of enemies in Epic Mickey: those made of ink, and those made of animatronics. There's meaning to that, as to Warren Spector, Disney is defined by both the company's mastery of hand-drawn animation, and their pioneering of robotics as a form of entertainment. This is a man who sees both Disney cartoons, and Disney theme parks, as the prelude to what videogames are today. During the event, he stated several times that any game developer who cares about their work needs to study the Disney theme parks. For Warren Spector, going to Disneyland is like entering a real life videogame. I'm paraphrasing here, but as I recall, Mr. Spector said that all videogames are virtual representations of an imaginary space, and that Disney rides and attractions are the same thing, except they aren't virtual. From that perspective, the psychology behind the design of a theme park and a videogame are not too different. Videogames do have one big advantage over theme parks, though. In a videogame, you can do whatever you want. The rules of physics -- and the rules of good behavior -- can both be thrown out the window. This is not something that was lost on Warren Spector. Epic Mickey allows you to break the rules of reality at a constant pace. The game's signature gameplay hook, the ability to create and erase objects in the game's world, is constantly being put to use. At first I feared that the feature would come off as gimmicky, but thankfully, the way it's applied saves it from feeling cheap or tacked on. Like nearly all good game mechanics, the painting/thinner stuff feels very organic and natural. After a brief tutorial level, I was quickly creating and destroying things in the environment as I was platforming around. After some practice, I could even create a platform underfoot in the middle of a jump. Balancing the world-shaping and world-traversing gameplay elements is the key to Epic Mickey's success, and from the two hours that I've played so far, they've nailed it. Junction Point has also done an exceptional job at making good on their promises for non-linear progression. You constantly have the choice between solving a problem with paint or with thinner. Paint an enemy, and they'll help you fight other enemies, but they might turn on you if some of the paint gets washed off of them. Hit an enemy with thinner, and they'll fight you more aggressively, but once they're fully doused, they'll stay dead for good. There are similar choices present for each of the game's platforming puzzles and boss fights. In my battle against animatronic Captain Hook, I had two choices (that I know of). I could fight Hook with thinner, which would eventually cause him to walk the plank and end up in the mouth of a robotic crocodile (complete with tick-tock heart beat). That's the easy route. It was much more challenging to take the other path. By painting and platforming to the top of Captain Hook's ship, I was able to set one of Mickey's allies free, who proceeded to battle Hook on my behalf. The choices I would make here would have long-lasting effects on the rest of the game, including cinemas and the game's final ending. I was told that the first playthrough of Epic Mickey is averaging at 26 hours, and that you'll need to replay the game with different choices at least 2-3 times to see everything. The developers were especially excited to see how players may "break" Epic Mickey. Towards the beginning of the game, you're forced to either save an NPC and lose some treasure, or sacrifce the NPC to get what's in the chest. At least, that's what the Team at Junction Point thought. A clever play tester found a way to get both the treasure and save the NPC. Instead of seeing this a a glitch, Warren Spector and his team say this as a feature. Encouraging the player to experiment and find their own solutions is exactly what they want they want to do. This preview is already ridiculously long, so I'd better wrap it up. Before I go, I want to tell you about the new area they showed us in the game. It's called Mickeyjunk Mountain, and it solidified my belief that Epic Mickey is a true labor of love. It's a giant landfill packed with Mickey memorabilia, including giant replications of SNES and NES cartridges of Disney games gone by. Though the game only contains characters from pre-1968 Disney, there are still plenty of acknowledgments to more recent Disney experiences. I'm also loving the Tron stuff. Warren Spector is apparently a big Tron fan, so expect quite a few nods to that series as well. There is so much that I'm leaving out here: the surprisingly evocative storyline (complete with hearts being ripped out of people's chests), the hundreds of collectibles, the 2D levels, the recreation of famous Disney cartoons and rides, but I really should save something for the review. As for now, I'll end by saying that Epic Mickey has a lot to offer for people who love the study of game design, classic Disney, or just anyone who worships at the alter of imagination.
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Up until last week, I wasn't all that interested in Epic Mickey. The game looked alright, but I've never played any of Warren Spector's games, and even more sacrilegious, I wasn't the biggest fan of Disney. My recent trip to ...

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Epic Mickey is a love letter to Disneyland


Nov 09
// Jonathan Holmes
Don't believe Warren Spector. Everyone does not know and understand Disneyland. My first trip to the park was just last Wednesday. That night, I walked through Disneyland alone. Under those conditions, I honestly didn't see ...
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Warren Spector talks up Epic Mickey Storytelling


Oct 05
// Conrad Zimmerman
In a new promotional video for Epic Mickey, Warren Spector and other staff at Junction Point talk about the importance of storytelling.  The more media I consume about the game, the more curious I become about how the f...
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While we were at PAX this past weekend, I had the opportunity to sit down with Warren Spector and talk a bit about Disney's Epic Mickey. As we talked about the process of implementing one of the game's core mechanics, the use...

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PAX: Second half of Epic Mickey's intro unveiled


Sep 03
// Nick Chester
At the conclusion of his keynote at the Penny Arcade Expo today, Junction Point's Warren Spector revealed the second half of Epic Mickey's opening cinematic. In it, Mickey finds himself trapped by the Mad Doctor, where he en...
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Epic Mickey Collector's Edition is... well, you can guess


Aug 30
// Matthew Razak
Toy collectors, Disney fans, Mouseketeers, Wii owners, those who like paint and anyone with a working soul get ready for Epic Mickey's Collector's Edition. This is quite a package, especially on the Wii where collector's edit...
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Epic Mickey gameplay


Aug 25
// Conrad Zimmerman
Here's a series of brief videos from Epic Mickey. They show distinctly different areas of the game and a variety of gameplay styles. There's a bit of 2D platforming, some 3D-platforming and puzzle-solving and a little taste ...
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Epic Mickey getting the comic treament


Jul 25
// Matthew Razak
Need more proof than the massive team that Epic Mickey is definitely a third-party AAA title on the Wii? Like all good AAA titles, it's getting a comic book spin-off. Well, not exactly a comic book -- a graphic novel and a di...
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Warren Spector to keynote PAX Prime


Jul 19
// Matthew Razak
Who's ready for PAX Prime, baby!? Yea, you are. Well, get even readier because they've just let out officially that Warren Spector is confirmed as the keynote speaker. He's going to talk about things and other stuff... probab...
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Epic Mickey team rivals that of Call of Duty


Jun 27
// Matthew Razak
These days it takes a massive team of people to make a AAA game. Games like Call of Duty: Black Ops (300 people) or Assassin's Creed (450 people) have huge teams that work on every detail and cost a lot of money. Most Wii gam...
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Epic Mickey controller leaves us speechless (also, Tron)


Jun 22
// Nick Chester
PDP sent over a press release yesterday announcing Tron: Evolution and Epic Mickey controllers it was making, and we basically ignored it. Because, you know, “LOL, controllers,” right? Today’s slow news day ...

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