BY: Derrik J. Lang
AP Entertainment Writer
GLENDALE, Calif. – 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?
“Mickey constantly gets himself into trouble, not just in this game but in his films as well,” said Spector.
After ‘Epic Mickey’ appeared on the cover of Game Informer magazine last fall, several fans were outraged over Mickey’s makeover. Others were later miffed that images of the game did not resemble the concept art. Spector said the images and art were never intended to show the final version of the game and that it was part of the “normal creative process.”
“Sometimes you go too far to find out where too far is,” he said.
Spector insisted that Mickey will maintain his traditional retro ensemble — yellow shoes, red shorts — throughout the game but will be surrounded by levitating little guardians that will glow a different color whether players employ more paint or thinner. He also teased there are a “cloud of possibilities” that will lead to multiple endings of ‘Epic Mickey.’
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