Sunday, October 10, 2010

Is Epic Mickey Good for Disney's Image?

The Disney company is taking a huge risk with their upcoming video game "Epic Mickey," where they reinvent the most iconic cartoon character, giving him a darker edge.

I was definitely skeptical when I heard that the mouse that started it all would go from a bright pastel color palette to a darker, more goth one.

Now that I've read up on the game, the last thing I am thinking about is the image change. It goes so far beyond that, into a world of old cartoons, attractions and Disney lore.

According to, Mickey is "stuck in ‘Wasteland’, a world ruled by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (Mickey’s Predecessor). Wasteland is a grim version of Disneyland, and it’s filled with forgotten characters and attractions." Depending on the actions taken in the game, Mickey can either come out as a purveyor of good or doer of evil.

The world's creator is Yen Sid (based on good ol' Walt), and is based on the theme parks. It takes a huge amount of inspiration from the older work that Walt worked on and labored over. It's full of Disney history and will no doubt reintroduce a new generation to the classic characters that made the Disney company into what it is now.

The Christian Science Monitor posed these questions in a recent article: "Will Disney turn off potential gamers who prefer the Mickey of old? Will the game be dark and intriguing enough to appeal to "core" gaming audiences? And, perhaps most importantly, given flagging interest in the mouse, does Disney have a choice?"

I will answer those questions in order:

1. After enlightening myself on what the game was really about, I do not think the game will turn off "potential gamers who prefer the Mickey of old" as this new Mickey is dark for a purpose, not just for shock value. I'm not even a gamer, and I want to get my hands on this.

2. The game seems to have the right mix of great story telling and intriguing gameplay that it will satisfy experienced gamers.

3. Disney did have a choice, and I think they made the right one. This dark version of Mickey isn't replacing the new one, he's complimenting it.

A recent trip to the Disney store proved this to me. The new bags feature retro Mickeys and Minnies, along with a wide array of new merchandise. Disney knows that the new Mickey makes some Disney enthusiasts uncomfortable, and they are counterbalancing by bringing back the classic Mickey everyone looks fondly upon, and I applaud them for it.

Are you excited by Mickey's new image and accompanying videogame, or is it a step in the wrong direction for one of America's most iconic characters?

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