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Epic Mickey: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

3 Dec

My son and I rushed home from GameStop on Tuesday night to spend a little quality time with our new purchase, a game we hadn’t played before. By sometime Thursday night, we’d beaten the game, and had an absolutely fabulous time doing so.

Am I talking about Epic Mickey? No . . . actually it was Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, which is a far better game than it has a right to be. But we did pick up Epic Mickey as well, and share our opinions with you in this week’s Jentasmic column at StudiosCentral. Here’s some of the good stuff:

Epic Mickey is like a scavenger hunt for fans of Disney animation, especially of the vintage variety. Even in the early levels we’ve worked through, there are worlds themed on Steamboat Wilie, Clock Cleaners, and other vintage Mickey hits. We can only hope that our Oswald favorites such as Trolley Troubles will be included in later worlds, or perhaps an Alice comedy. In our wildest dreams, perhaps we’d see a little of a controversial reference, and let Mickey fight Adolf Hitler in a variation on Der Fuhrer’s Face.

The controls are relatively simple, which will appeal to people like Mom: Old-school video gamers who misspent their youths beating the early Mario games, which required the use of only a few controller buttons. Modern video games frequently have far too many controls for this group’s liking, as they have a hard time remembering such a wide variety of combinations (“what does it do again when I hit A and Z and + all at the same time?).

Many of the aspects of game design seem to suggest that Disney is trying to appeal to novice, middle-aged, and very young videogamers. Unfortunately, as we’ll see below, this may interfere with their appeal to teenaged boys, which the marketing would suggest Disney’s trying to reach as well (and is notably unsuccessful with, generally speaking).

Unfortunately, it’s not all good . . . head over to StudiosCentral to read the full column, with plenty of the bad and the ugly.



Jentasmic! Waiting for Oswald

5 Nov

I am thoroughly psyched about the upcoming appearance of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in the Epic Mickey video game. A snippet from this week’s Jentasmic! column at StudiosCentral:

As Oswald was essentially locked up in a vault all this time, he had a little time to himself over the last many decades. So, he was never sanitized or prettied-up, like some of the other characters. Mickey himself started out rather mischievous (practially criminal in Plane Crazy, actually), but softened considerably as he became a corporate icon. Donald was created to take Mickey’s place as the cranky one, but even Donald just doesn’t get that edgy anymore. So, in bringing Oswald back, Disney’s got a character who simultaneously has an empty slate with most viewers, and a rowdy, frolicsome visual style.

Read the rest at StudiosCentral . . .

Epic Mickey Junior Novel

6 May

Hey there, my librarian friend George! According to Kotaku, there’s a new book coming this fall you might just want on the shelf.

A pair of Epic Mickey books are planned for release after the Disney video game, one of which sounds like a straight up novelization with big print (Epic Mickey Junior Novel), the other which sounds like it could be an ongoing serialization of the game universe.

More information (including some Epic Mickey spoilers) is over at Kotaku.

A hat tip to my son the Watchamacallit for sending me the link.

More on Epic Mickey: “Twisted, broken, dangerous”

5 Nov

The New York Times has a must-read story on the upcoming Wii video game Epic Mickey, including more details about the plot and characters:

Epic Mickey, designed for Nintendo’s Wii console, is set in a “cartoon wasteland” where Disney’s forgotten and retired creations live. The chief inhabitant is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a cartoon character Walt Disney created in 1927 as a precursor to Mickey but ultimately abandoned in a dispute with Universal Studios. In the game, Oswald has become bitter and envious of Mickey’s popularity. The game also features a disemboweled, robotic Donald Duck and a “twisted, broken, dangerous” version of Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World.” Using paint and thinner thrown from a magic paintbrush, Mickey must stop the Phantom Blot overlord, gain the trust of Oswald and save the day.

Twisted, broken, dangerous, disemboweled? I’m shivering with ghoulish glee!

New York Magazine has a brief piece as well, including a YouTube link to this concept art (yeah, the soundtrack is irritating, but the little on-screen comments are worth it):

I do not think I have to tell you how excited I am that Oswald will play a major role.

Just as interesting, though, is the larger picture of Mickey makeover described in the New York Times article, of which Epic Mickey is just a trial balloon:

“Holy cow, the opportunity to mess with one of the most recognizable icons on Planet Earth,” said Warren Spector, the creative director of Junction Point, a Disney-owned game developer that spearheaded Epic Mickey.

The effort to re-engineer Mickey is still in its early stages, but it involves the top creative and marketing minds in the company, all the way up to Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive.

wii’ve Got Toy Story Mania!

18 Sep

Well, whaddya know? I managed to write a Jentasmic column this week for StudiosCentral that is, in fact, directly related to the Studios! Yay me!

And what’s on my mind this week? Well, since I’ve spent a good amount of time on the wii this week, I figured I’d share with y’all my thoughts about the new wii game, Toy Story Mania. The bottom line?

If you’re a Disney freak and enjoy the Toy Story Mania Parks attractions, I’d definitely recommend spending the 50 bucks and considering it a way to relive the magic. If you’re a gamer, this might be a fun party game if you don’t take it too seriously, and just groove on the silly graphics and objectives. But don’t go thinking this is gonna replace Call of Duty anytime soon.

Epic Mickey: Steampunk Dystopian Disney World

6 Aug

From Offworld, a description of the upcoming video game Epic Mickey:

The project — a trip through a fantastical dystopian Magic Kingdom — is being headed by former Deus Ex designer Warren Spector, whose studio was acquired by Disney in 2007 (and who explained why this was such a perfect match in an interview with me at the time). The game was first confirmed to exist last December

More concept art is available at Offworld, including a mecha Goofy.

And a special note to my son: Unlike Kingdom Hearts, it’s confirmed that this will be available for the Wii. You’re gonna have to scoot over and hand me a controller.

Millennium Falcon TV Joystick Game

12 Dec

Mr Broke Hoedown just dropped me a note . . . apparently BoingBoing’s just posted about the super-awesome Millennium Falcon TV game that Broke Hoedown Jr picked up a couple weeks ago at Target:

All-in-One Joystick games prove that you can cram an entire, mid-80s console system into something the size of a hockey puck, so it was inevitable that the hockey puck would get gussied up. Exhibit A: a Millennium Falcon all-in-one system that plays Star Wars games.

The Force will be with you. Always. Even if it has to resort to 16-bit graphics.

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