Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mickey Mouse doesn't get evil (Epic Mickey)

GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) -- Mickey Mouse won't be bad in the upcoming "Epic Mickey" video game. He was just drawn that way.

Warren Spector, creative director of Disney Interactive Studios' Junction Point, said the beloved international icon won't transform into a snarling rat as originally planned for the game when players make mischievous choices, such as pilfering treasures from a store or erasing characters with thinner. Instead, Mickey will take on a smudgy look if he's naughty.

"We're not going to change Mickey's image so much," said Spector.

During a recent demonstration of the latest iteration of the upcoming Wii game that will be on display at this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Spector said the decision to scrap the malevolent-looking Mickey was made following negative feedback during focus testing of the game, which features Mickey trekking through a cartoon wasteland.

"People don't like it when you mess with Mickey," said Spector. "We did a focus test that was really eye opening for me. There was a biker dude saying, 'Oh, I'd never play a Mickey Mouse game,' and then we showed him images of a changed Mickey. I was sitting there thinking, 'You're gonna love what we do,' but he said, 'No! Don't mess with my childhood.'"

"Epic Mickey" is set in a virtual world of wayward renditions of Disney locales, such as Adventureland and Skull Rock. Throughout the game, players will be faced with moral dilemmas about whether to help other characters. For example, should Mickey persuade a lovelorn pirate to give a bouquet of flowers or an ice cream cone to a lactose intolerant Henrietta Cow?


After "Epic Mickey" appeared on the cover of Game Informer magazine last fall, several fans were outraged over Mickey's makeover...

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Okay, first of all, Spector, you shouldn't listen to that biker, and you should fire your user researchers. Why are you even talking to a guy who says he'd never buy a Mickey game? He isn't even your audience! Who cares what he thinks? You need to ask the people who WILL buy your Mickey game. They're your audience.

Second, this isn't new. Walt Disney also complained about this. He always intended Mickey to be mischevious, but somewhere in the 30s, he didn't make it apparent enough, and when he went back to show Mickey's mischevious side, all the fans got angry.

That's when Walt realized Mickey had to be a happy mouse. That's also when Walt concentrated more on Donald Duck and gave him the qualities that Mickey used to have. As expected, Mickey's popularity went down when Walt gave the fans what they asked for, but Donald's popularity went up (plus Disney had the films to rely on).

So trying to make Mickey mischevious again is going to upset some fans. However, Mickey Mouse in Runaway Brain (a short from 1995) got away with making Mickey an imperfect mouse.


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