Epic Mickey 2 preview – Warren Spector talks magical paintbrushes and The Power Of Two
With the original Epic Mickey only available on Wii and not even a glimpse of the king of the House Of Mouse on PlayStation since Kingdom Hearts II, we’ve had no excuse to don a giant pair of ears this generation. But prepare your chin for that elastic strap as Epic Mickey 2: The Power Of Two arrives on PS3 this year, helmed by none other than Deus Ex creator Warren Spector.
“We’re going to let players experience Disney history first-hand, and we’re going to do it with all the power of PS3,” Spector tells us when we meet up for a chat in London. “We really make this look like a real Disney film that you can interact with, and it’s a whole new story. We made sure that if you haven’t played the first one, you’ll totally get it.”
Developed by Spector’s Junction Point Studios, the puzzling platformer arms the famous rodent with a paintbrush and sends him into the world of Wasteland, Disney’s creative rubbish dump of more than 80 years of forgotten characters. “Everything in the game is inspired by real Disney stuff,” stresses Spector. “Kids might not get everything, but the adults? They’re going to remember.”
The paintbrush in Mickey’s paw isn’t just a good excuse to utilise the Move controller – which it does – it’s also a vital tool for progression. “The really magical thing that Mickey does is use the stuff he’s made of,” he explains. ”He’s a cartoon character, so he’s made with ink and paint. He can use paint to restore things, or paint-thinner to erase them.”
Wasteland is home to Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, a character created by Walt Disney who – due to a contract dispute back in 1927 – belonged to Universal Studios until 2006. Old Uncle Walt then made some tweaks to his rabbit design in 1928, giving him a pair of mouse ears and changing the colour of his shorts and – boom! – created the most successful cartoon character of the past 84 years.
“Oswald’s really Mickey’s older brother who’s been rejected, and he resents his brother,” explains Spector. “They have to find that family feeling again and work to save Wasteland together.” As part of the family bonding, the brothers team up in drop-in-drop-out co-op that enables players to discover hidden areas and new abilities.
With his past solidly in RPGs, Spector has created a system called ‘playstyle matters’, which means that your decisions count. “A lot of games are all about trying to read the designer’s mind. A designer creates an incredible puzzle and you have to try and solve that puzzle in the one way that the designer lets you. I don’t make games like that,” he explains. “The games that I make are about offering problems to players. In Epic Mickey you’re constantly making choices. It’s all about you deciding what’s important. It’s not about how clever and creative I am – it’s about how clever and creative you are.”
In true Disney style, this is also a musical – a first for games and a lifelong dream for Spector. “I’ve wanted to do a musical game for most of my career,” he smiles. “You go to most publishers and they ask if you’re crazy, but you go to Disney and they say, ‘Of course, it’s Disney!’” A host of new songs take place in cut-scenes, which the po-faced among you can skip if you aren’t quite ready to be part of a montage.