Epic Mickey is a series of action-adventure platforming designed by Warren Spector and developed by the now-defunct Junction Point Studios. The series centers around Mickey Mouse who travels through a world known as the Wasteland, where he interacts with the forgotten and rejected Disney properties using a magical paintbrush created by Yen Sid, the sorcerer from Fantasia. Epic Mickey notably features the first appearance of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit since 1928 as a major character, who was one of Walt Disney's first successful cartoon characters before the character was licensed under the ownership of Universal Studios. The character was regained by The Walt Disney Company in 2006 under the guidance of Bob Iger.
The series currently has one released game exclusive to the Wii, a sequel on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U and Playstation Vita and a 3DS spin-off, both released in 2012. As of June 2011, the original Epic Mickey game sold 2 million copies in North America and Europe combined.
Epic Mickey is the first game of the series, released in North America on November 25, 2010 for the Wii. The game introduced the series' key characters and plot points. It established the relationship between Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit who are portrayed as brothers in the series. Other established and well-known Disney characters were featured in different forms. The game is centered around decision making, being given the choice to either befriend or defeat most of the bosses met using paint to befriend and thinner to destroy.
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is the direct sequel to the game released in North American on November 18, 2012. The game centers around Mickey's return to Wasteland, alliance with Oswald, and mission to defeat The Mad Doctor and his hybrid creatures. Unlike the original, Power of Two is set to release on the Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS X. The game will also feature full voice acting with official Disney voices. The game is presented as a drop-in, drop-out co-op adventure where players can join in at any time and play as Oswald alongside Mickey. When playing Oswald, players control a powerful remote.
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is a spin-off game based on the series set, released on the Nintendo 3DS on November 18, 2012. Unlike the first games, this game does not tie into the others. The story focuses on Mizrabel, the antagonist from an older Mickey game, Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse, who kidnaps famous Disney characters and traps them in the Wasteland where she steals their essence to become a famous character herself and escape Wasteland. Players can use the stylus to paint objects that can both help and harm Mickey and the area around him.
Other media and merchandise
Outside of the games, Disney has released Epic Mickey: The Graphic Novel, a comic adaption of the original game. The official Disney website contains Epic Mickey DigiComics, that fans created.
Marvel Comics has confirmed that there will be a comic for Epic Mickey, titled: Disney's Epic Mickey: Tales of the Wasteland. It will serve as a prequel to the game, focusing on Mickey's half-brother Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and give some insight on what the Wasteland was like before Mickey's appearance and the thinner disaster. Initially distributed on Disney's Digicomics platform for iOS products, a print version released in late-August 2011. An Art book, The Art of Epic Mickey, also released in September 2011. A US-exclusive Epic Mickey Collector's Edition was announced that includes special packaging, special behind-the-scenes DVD, Mickey vinyl figure, a Wii Remote skin, and Wii console skins.
A virtually unknown Mickey Mouse, out of curiosity, enters Yen Sid's workshop through a mirror in his house and discovers the model of the land Yen Sid created and the tool used to create it, the magic paintbrush. Fiddling with the brush and some paint to make a self-portrait, Mickey accidentally creates the Shadow Blot. Panicking, Mickey quickly tries to erase the Blot by throwing paint thinner onto it, but spills more paint on the model in the process. Upon seeing Yen Sid approaching, Mickey quickly tries to clean up the mess, but in his haste, spills thinner onto the paint spillage as he flees back to his house, while the Blot, having survived Mickey's attempt to destroy it, enters through a portal created by the paint/thinner mixture (taking the Jug -the bottle of thinner- with him) and takes control of the ruined world from its first resident, Oswald ("The world I had created was ravaged - a wasteland").
After many decades of fame following the accident, Mickey had forgotten the incident until the Shadow Blot enters his home through the mirror and abducts him into the ruined forgotten world, now named by this time as the Wasteland. Oswald soon had his will and his mind twisted from years of hiding and his jealousy of Mickey's rise to fame, unaware the enigmatic Mad Doctor and the Blot formulate a plan to destroy Mickey and steal his heart, which they plan to use to escape the ruined world, as all Wasteland inhabitants are forgotten and thus no longer have hearts of their own. During his journey through the Wasteland, Mickey is guided by Gremlin Gus and becomes armed with Yen Sid's brush. Mickey uses the brush to restore the Wasteland in order to atone for his destruction and win Oswald's trust.
After defeating a fake Blot (Oswald revealed the Shadow Blot Mickey fought along with all the Blotlings he encountered were drippings of the real Blot), Mickey eventually comes to terms with his actions and reveals all to Oswald, who loses his temper. While jumping angrily on the cork sealing the Jug, Oswald accidentally causes the cork to break, allowing the true form of the Shadow Blot- a giant specter constructed from paint thinner- to escape his prison into the world. Oswald soon reveals that he and his girlfriend, Ortensia, attempted to seal the Blot away, but Ortensia was blighted by the Blot in the process and entered a catatonic state. The Blot takes Oswald and Gus, threatening to kill them if Mickey does not allow the Blot to take his heart. Mickey yields his heart to the Blot, who then proceeds to destroy the Wasteland before moving on to the Disney universe to wreak havoc there, but Mickey, Oswald and Gus successfully manage to destroy the Blot, eliminating his exterior with paint-laden fireworks, and rescue Mickey's heart from the inside. Oswald reunites with Ortensia and befriends Mickey, the two now possibly bonding with each other as brothers. With the Wasteland now slowly regenerating, Mickey escapes back to Yen Sid's workshop and returns home through the mirror, which becomes sealed by Yen Sid to prevent Mickey from entering again and cause anymore mischief.
Regardless of what choices Mickey made in the Wasteland (Yen Sid shows Mickey the consequences of his actions in the game depending on how he dealt with certain characters and bosses), the ending after the credits is the same: Not long after the mirror is sealed, Mickey discovers that he still has some of the Shadow Blot's ink in him, leaving the possibility he may still be able to reach the Wasteland.
Not to long after, The Mad Doctor, whom Mickey defeated in the first game, mysteriously returns to the Wasteland and plans to take control using his minions the BlotWork, a hybrid of the Beetleworx and the Blotings.
Epic Mickey is primarily an open-ended platform game with some RPG elements, and allows players to use their own solutions for getting through the levels. Epic Mickey features a morality system similar to games like inFAMOUS, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, and Shadow the Hedgehog. Different alliances, side-quests and power-ups are made available depending on the actions of the player. It is also possible to avoid mini-bosses if specific actions are taken.
The game's key feature is the magic paint brush, which Mickey wields, that has the ability to draw or erase objects using paint and paint thinner. For example, obstacles can be erased from physical existence using the thinner and then restored using the paint, or enemies can be befriended by revitalizing them with the paint or destroyed completely using the thinner. Mickey is also able to materialize objects from sketches, which have various effects. Two of the three sketches, the watch and the television, slow down time and distract enemies, respectively. Both fluids have limited reserves, adding a strategic element to gameplay: players must compromise between making various tasks harder or easier to accomplish. However, the fluids automatically but slowly refill and power-ups that quickly replenish the fluids are available in certain areas.
To travel between sections of the Wasteland, Mickey traverses 2D side-scrolling levels based on his classic cartoon shorts (with three being based on Oswald shorts and two being based on Sleeping Beauty and Fantasia), such as Steamboat Willie and Clock Cleaners.
For Power of Illusion, with players taking control of Mickey Mouse, the game mixes side-scrolling gameplay from games such as Castle of Illusion with the paint and thinner mechanics from Epic Mickey. Using the 3DS touch-screen, the player will be able to bring items scattered throughout each stage into existence. How well the player traces these items will affect their performance. For example, tracing a cannon perfectly will ensure that it only harms enemies, but an imperfect cannon could be a danger to everyone in the area, including Mickey himself.
The creative development team at Buena Vista Games formed the original concept for Epic Mickey in 2003. When the concept was pitched to Bob Iger, then-president and COO, he lamented that Disney no longer owned the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and could not produce the game. Upon becoming CEO, he made it a goal to bring Oswald back to Disney, trading Al Michaels to NBCUniversal for the rights to the character in 2006. Disney Interactive Studios was unable to secure a developer for the game until 2007, when Disney acquired Junction Point Studios, Warren Spector's company.
The game was originally for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and its name was its working title. Development on the Wii started in 2008. When the idea of addressing a Wii port of the game was raised, Spector replied that a straight Wii port would not be viable, remarking that many of the "design ideas just won't work on the Wii, we need to give the Wii its dues". Graham Hopper of Disney Interactive then suggested dropping the development of the aforementioned platforms completely, and instead releasing it solely on the Wii.
Concept art for the game by Fred Gambino and Gary Glover depicted a surrealistically bizarre look at Disney characters and locations in a steampunk environment (this art has been categorized as very preliminary concept art and it is not the style of the final game). Featured in the concept art are post-apocalyptic renditions of Goofy, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Captain Hook, Disneyland's Dumbo the Flying Elephant (ride), Mad Tea Party, Main street, Tomorrowland, Mickey's Toontown, Donald Duck's boat, Astro Orbitor, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, It's a Small World, the Haunted Mansion, Epcot's Spaceship Earth, Disney's Hollywood Studios' "Earful Tower", The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Hong Kong Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Mickey receives a character redesign in this game, which attempts to give him a "retro" look, and the game uses an animation engine to replicate the stretchy athleticism of the classic cartoons. The 2D cinematics were created by Powerhouse Animation Studios, Inc, and the game utilizes Emergent Game Technologies' Gamebryo Engine. Warren Spector has stated that Epic Mickey was planned as a trilogy. An early idea for the game was for Mickey to adopt an angrier look when he was played in the "scrapper" manner; this idea was dropped after Spector decided it changed Mickey too much from people's perceptions of the character. Mickey looks more smudged instead.
Epic Mickey's music was composed by James Dooley. In addition to the original works by Dooley, arranged versions of classic Disney music appears throughout the game in the side-scrolling platforming sections, which in turn are recreations of older Disney cartoons. X-Play later named it "Best Soundtrack of 2010". Dooley's score was released digitally via iTunes and Amazon on December 21, 2010. The sequel game has been confirmed to have musical numbers, with characters breaking into song throughout the game's cutscenes as an homage to Disney animated musicals.
Epic Mickey's release was met with generally favorable reviews. IGN gave it a score of 8, criticizing its camera, control issues and lack of voice acting, but praised its charm, story, art design, and lasting appeal for the players. X-Play gave it a score of 5/5, praising the excellent level design and the paint/thinner mechanic, however criticizing it for its poor camera.
PAL Gaming Network was much more critical, giving the game a score of 6.5, commenting on its clumsy and disappointing gameplay, and its "unpolished and unrefined design". Jonathan Holmes of Destructoid gave it a 7 out of 10, saying that "Epic Mickey falls short of brilliance, but because it stands on such a strong concept it doesn't need brilliance to remain compelling". He backed up his claim by stating later that parts of the game score as low as 4, with other parts a 10, "And a whole lot of stuff in-between."
Video game talk show Good Game's two presenters gave the game a 6 and 7 out of 10. They compared the paintbrush abilities to that of the water jet pack from Super Mario Sunshine as well saying it's mean how after painting all the nasty bits out you return to the level to find that everything has been reset. But on a positive note they said "isn't as 'dark' or 'adult' as the hype made it out to be... I guess it is a kid's game after all, but at least it's an intelligent one. It doesn't come anywhere near the complexity and fun of something like Super Mario Sunshine, which I think it borrows some ideas from." Shirley Chase from GameZone complimented the game on its usage of Disney history, but added that the game had numerous flaws saying, "For all of its good points, Disney Epic Mickey does have some glaring flaws, which can make the game feel like a chore. The most noticeable problem is the camera, which will lead to more cheap deaths than anything else." The reviewer on gaming blog GameKiq noted, "Epic Mickey may never rank among Mickey Mouse’s classic depictions and it may not even be among the Wii’s best platformers, but its reverence for the iconic character’s past combined with some really enjoyable platforming and adventuring make for a wonderful and unique experience."
In Epic Mickey's opening weekend, it was excluded from the UK Top 40 and even Wii Top 10 sales charts after its November 26 UK release, although it was only available to buy for one day in the chart. On November 30, 2010, the release date in North America, the game was completely sold out on the Disney Store website by the afternoon. The game has also sold 1.3 million copies its first month.
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two received mixed reviews, with most complaints begin the game not fixing issues that were present in the original. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave Wii version 67.60% and 64/100, the Xbox 360 version 59.87% and 59/100, the PlayStation 3 version 58.86% and 59/100 and the Wii U version 56.44% and 56/100.
By the end of 2012, the game sold around 270,000 copies. In a recent interview, Warren Spector started about the future of the series. Despite heavy advertising and moderate critical success, the game sold nearly a quarter of the copies the original did, making it a commercial failure.