"Mickey is an adventurous and rambunctious mouse," said Spector in Disney's press release. "I want to bring his personality to the forefront, place him in a daunting world and connect his spirited character with video game players worldwide. Ultimately, each player decides for him- or herself what makes Mickey cool."
Using the Wii Remote, players wield magic-tinged paint and paint-thinner to alter the world in positive or negative ways. According to Disney, painting represents "creativity," while using paint-thinner has a "damaging effect." Your decisions impact the world directly and alter your relationships with other characters, your appearance, and abilities.
Turning iconic character inside out became de rigueur ages ago. It's a trick done with light and cameras, a way to make the familiar interesting by recalibrating the lens. Alan Moore's themes in Watchmen seemed archetypal (matters of technique notwithstanding) only if all you'd read up to 1986 and 1987 were comic books. Likewise games, where we tend to mistake novelty or development within the medium for depth beyond it. At first blush Epic Mickey sounds like another edgy ret-con. But only at first blush.
"The core of this game is the idea of choice and consequence, and how that defines both the character and the player," says Spector. "By putting the mischievous Mickey in an unfamiliar place and asking him to make choices--to help other cartoon characters or choose his own path--the game forces players to deal with the consequences of their actions. Ultimately, players must ask themselves, 'What kind of hero am I?' Each player will come up with a different answer."
Will Spector's Epic Mickey upend our expectations? Does it even need to? There's already questionable buzz about the game's ties to T.S. Eliot's tendentious poem "The Waste Land," not an easy work, and from a poet whose elite, inhibited views on aesthetics and theory ineluctably color his artistic import.
"You have to throw in literary references every once in awhile," said Spector, in an interview with Kotaku, adding, however, that it's Phillip Pullman (His Dark Materials) that really trips his trigger.
"What Philip Pullman does is inspiration in everything I want to do," he said. "You can make something that appeals to kids but is interesting to adults as well."
A worthy challenge. We'll have an early sense for how well Epic Mickey's rising to it by next summer's E3. The finished game should ship around this time next year.
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