I missed reporting on this previously, but I noticed a week or two ago that Gamespot had reported that the 27th of March was going to be the day that Disney announced Warren Spector’s next ‘epic’ project. Speculation suggests that this will be a sequel to his rather successful Mickey Mouse title from 2010, Epic Mickey, and that would be a welcome enough thing (to be sure).
Not that anyone here would complain if he revealed a remastered version of Ultima Underworld for the Wii*. But it seems unlikely that Disney would be the label for that.
Nothing so dramatic as open revolt — a la Libya/Egypt/Tunisia/Bahrain/Yemen/Syria — mind you. In governments based on the British model, certain bills presented to the Parliament (the rough equivalent of the US House of Representatives, I guess) are what are known as “confidence votes”. Budgets, for example, are always confidence votes.
If the sitting government fails to pass a confidence vote, that is called a “vote of non-confidence”, and the government is considered to have lost confidence of the nation…and, consequently, the right to govern as well. The Governor General (the Queen’s representative) is obligated to dissolve the sitting Parliament immediately in such a case.
And…that just happened up here in the Great White North.
Warren Spector’s new game, the Nintento Wii-exclusive Epic Mickey, is out this week, and there is a predictably huge amount of buzz surrounding the release. And why not? By all appearances, Epic Mickey looks to be positioned to become the game by which the Wii platform will be defined in years to come.
Epic Mickey is Epic
Some of that buzz includes an interview on NPR, which I believe starts in about twenty minutes (from the time of this posting). There’s also a “virtual trading card” making the rounds featuring the former Ultima developer.
The game seems to be getting decent (though not stellar) reviews; IGN praises its “Pixar-like adventure that not only amazes with spectacle and design but tugs at our hearts with its strong character development and remarkable love for Disney lore,” and sings the praises of the 2D cutscenes that serve to drive the plot along. At the same time, they lament the limitations (possibly due to the Wii platform itself) of the “paint and thinner” system and the lack of persistence in the world, and from a pair of major issues with the gameplay itself: “control and camera. It’s very likely you will die needlessly in this game because of these glitches,” they warn.
Anyhow, if you want to check out Epic Mickey, you can purchase it via Amazon (using the link just prior to this statement) and in so doing support Aiera a little bit (the Deluxe Edition is also available). I’d recommend checking it out; I know that I intend to, even given my noted and perhaps even well-attested frustration with control difficulties. It’s Warren Spector doing Disney…I mean, c’mon!
It’s a very, very long interview and ranges over a bunch of different aspects of the game, its art, and its design (for example: it’s apparently a rule amongst Disney animators that Mickey’s ears, in any cartoon, are always supposed to face the camera; Epic Mickey enforces this rule on the Mickey 3D character.). As such, I’ll just excerpt the first question here…
Perhaps you could start by telling me about the game.
Okay. Goal one for the project was to make Mickey a video game hero at the same level he’s been in every other medium. He’s been the most popular movie star in the world. He’s obviously been a huge TV star. You go to the theme parks and he’s the guy most people want to get their picture taken with.
But while he’s had some success in video games he’s never been a star at the level of a Mario or a Link or a Sonic or a Master Chief. I just thought that was unfair. So job one had to be to make Mickey a video game hero. The whole team rallied around that.
The game is set in a world called Wasteland, which is a home for all of Disney’s forgotten and rejected characters, theme park rides…
First impressions: they definitely do a good job of capturing the “old school” Mickey Mouse here, both in terms of his mannerisms and his mischief. It’s sometimes easy to forget that Mickey was, in his earlier incarnations, something of a hellion, but he’s in fine form here.
Graphics wise, it’s about as good as anything else on the Nintendo Wii…definitely at the upper end of quality for the system, though perhaps dated-looking for those of us who are used to playing each new graphics subsystem-melting action title. The textures are also a bit flat in places, but hardware has always been the Wii‘s weak point. Then too, Nintendo has never really targeted the heavy graphics and action gaming market. Nintendo games are casual games more often than not.
The first half of the sequence is classic Disney, really, but the second half is classic Spector, which is to say that it completely upends established conventions (as far as Mickey Mouse cartoons go) and mixes in a substantial measure of darkness and twistedness. It’s good stuff, for the most part.
The $69.99 bundle includes everything seen in the image above: A copy of the game, a pair of skins for the Wii, a faceplate for your Wiimote, a DVD containing behind-the-scenes videos and other marketing materials, some special packaging and a five-inch vinyl figurine modeled after the game’s falsetto protagonist.
I bought my wife a Wii for Christmas last year, and I honestly keep forgetting we have the darn thing (she’s the console gamer, not me). Still, I might just have to check this game out…and I have to admit that I am just a little bit tempted by this package. The Wii is aesthetically pleasant in its design, but its white shell is rather plainspoken, whereas this skin for it has all the right kinds of randomness and contrast.
In a new interview with Industry Gamers, he now says that, “A day does not go by where I don’t tell somebody at Disney: ‘Uncle Scrooge, come on! Donald! Huey, Dewey, and Louie! Come on, let me do a duck game!’ So yeah, I would love to do a duck game.”
Of course, being the animation geek that he is, Spector prefers the Carl Barks version of Uncle Scrooge and the nephews, so we probably won’t get any Fenton Crackshell cameos (even though that would be awesome). If Epic Mickey does take off, you never know what franchise Disney may let Spector put his own spin on next.
It would seem that if he is able to have his way — which is, I suppose, to say “if Epic Mickey doesn’t bomb” — Warren Spector will be sticking with Disney for a goodly while, and bringing his unique brand of warped awesomeness to whatever other franchises Disney is willing to hand over to his care.
Personally, I think a Darkwing Duck game headed by Spector might be interesting. Or something set in the darker Gargoyles universe.
Joystiq reports: The official Twitter account for the Penny Arcade Expo has announced that this year’s PAX Prime keynote speaker will be none other than Warren Spector, creator of the classic Deus Ex and Thief games, and current driving force behind the upcoming DisneyEpic Mickey. Spector’s no stranger to the keynoting game, having spoken at GDC and other conferences before. We got to talk to him back at E3 this year, and he’s right in the thick of Epic Mickey, thinking about accessible gameplay and how to build very famous and licensed characters into his game in a fun way.
So if, good reader, you are lucky enough to be attending the Penny Arcade Expo this year, you’re in for a treat and a speech from a former Ultima developer and all-around interesting guy.