What We Already Know:When legendary game designer, Warren Spector, sets his sights on creating a video game with the world’s most famous cartoon character on the blockbuster Nintendo Wii, it’s bound to attract some attention. Yep, Mickey Mouse is Wii-bound with his breakthrough title, Disney Epic Mickey, and what we know is very little. Disney Epic Mickey is an action adventure game with some lite RPG elements, and the core gameplay revolves around painting or thinning the environment. Erase enemies from existence or paint in platforms to reach higher ground, but keep in mind that the player’s actions will play into a morality system as part of the game. What We’re Seeing Now: From levels inspired by theme parks to over 40 2D storyboard-style cutscenes starring famous Disney characters, respecting the heritage of Mickey Mouse is always top of mind for developer Junction Point Studios. In our first hands-on time with Disney Epic Mickey, we were presented with three separate levels: a hub zone based on Adventureland, a 2D platforming Steamboat Willie-inspired sequence, and a finale upon Skull Island. The Adventureland hub serves as a transition zone, a place to purchase health upgrades or other powerups, as well as a path to other levels. The hub itself is dull and drab, full of neutral colors that the player is charged with restoring or erasing.
Controlling Mickey is easy enough; the nunchuk handles movement while the Wiimote aims and shoots either paint or thinner. Paint creates environmental elements, such as platforms when trying to climb up to a treehouse, while thinner can remove those platforms or hollow out mountains to locate secrets. Waggling the Wiimote causes Mickey to spin, which is used to break objects or jiggle jars to uncover e-Tickets, the currency within Disney Epic Mickey.
Naturally, the shooting mechanic is also used in combat, where spraying paint on enemies transforms them into allies, while thinning them wipes them out of existence. These actions go hand-in-hand with the morality system in place within Disney Epic Mickey; if you thin the world, you start to head more down the darker path for Mickey. While the full aspects of morality are still unclear, one consequence revolves around the Guardian that accompanies you. A hero Mickey who paints the world will be tailed by a Tint, which will automatically seek out and “friend” an enemy, while the more mischievous Mickey will find his Guardian is a Turp, as in turpentine, which will thin incoming baddies.
As part of our quest in Adventureland, we need to locate three items to move onto Skull Island. One item in particular is with a pirate who wants to know what this girl he has a crush on really likes: ice cream or flowers. She tells us she is lactose intolerant, so ice cream isn’t a good idea, but when presented with a choice, we end up giving it to her anyway. The payback? We now have to buy the item off him, and he doesn’t leave his post, denying us an opportunity to raid a treasure chest he was guarding as well. Not sure what the upside there was, but yes, you can be a naughty Mickey.
Finishing the quest opens up access to Skull Island via a playable side-scrolling sequence set in the world of Steamboat Willie. Skull Island is more of a traditional level with environmental obstacles (a sea full of thinner) and enemies like Sweepers from Fantasia which fling ranged use ranged thinner attacks on you. It’s here where you can deploy props that you’ll discover, like a TV sketch which drops a TV set into the environment, drawing in and hypnotizing enemies. More sketches are to be revealed in the future along with environments inside the game.Disney Epic Mickey is poised to be the ultimate video game for Disney fans everywhere, so keep your Mickey ears open for more info as we approach its holiday release on the Nintendo Wii.