Epic Mickey - Hands-On Impressions (2/2)
By James Farrington (10.19.10)

Choice and Consequence

In an interview with Warren Spector, “Epic Mickey’s” creator, Mr. Spector stated that the game is primarily about answering the question: “How important is family and friends to you?” In other words, the choices the player makes in the game are not about becoming good or evil but are about letting the player answer that ultimate question about family and friends. “Mickey will always be the hero in the end,” stated Spector stressing that the game is not about judging the players actions but is about letting the player choose what kind of hero Mickey will become in the end. Use a lot of thinner and Mickey will become personally powerful—use a lot of restorative paint and Mickey will gain allies. Neither choice, using thinner or paint, is morally “wrong” or “right.” Rather, using paint or thinner simply offers at least two different ways to beat the game. Mr. Spector would not go into too many details but he did verify that player choices will affect the final outcome of the game and player choices can even change the dynamics of certain levels in the game.

I saw a few instances of choice in the levels I played. In “Gremlin Village Ticket Booth” Mickey can talk to a Gremlin in a ticket booth who will ask for help with fixing some broken carnival rides that are in the immediate vicinity of the ticket booth. The player can choose to help the gremlin or the player can choose to ignore the quest and continue along the main storyline. Another such incident occurs in “Mad Doctor’s Lab” where a gremlin is trapped in a cage placed on a huge catapult. When the catapult is lowered a chest is revealed. However, opening the chest will trigger the catapult, which will launch the trapped gremlin. Releasing the gremlin from his cage blocks the player from accessing the chest but gains Mickey an ally. Mr. Spector was not clear what exactly these allies do in the game beyond making certain quests available or unavailable depending on whom the player helps. I never saw any of the allies fight alongside Mickey in a level although I got the impression that these allies have a role in the final outcome of the game, though Mr. Spector never directly stated this in our interview.

Epic Mickey


"Epic Mickey” is the biggest surprise I have seen all year. I have known about the game and kept my eye on it but nothing much really impressed me until now. The game controls nicely with only a few hiccups in aiming the paint (but nothing that will break the game). Once you get the hang of the different types of jumps Mickey can perform traversing the gameworld is generally easy and fun. The use of thinner and paint offers some unique puzzles to tackle. One of the earliest paint based puzzles is in “The Mad Doctor’s Lab:” There is a pool of thinner on the ground in a gap in the floor with a door beyond the pool. The thinner in the gap will hurt Mickey so the player has to find a way to get past the gap filled with thinner and open the door. The solution: erase the wall around the door and the door falls over the gap and acts like a bridge. These kind of counter-intuitive puzzles are fun and engaging.

Yet I am most interested in exploring the notions of choice Mr. Spector outlined. Specifically I want to see what changes occur in the game world between Mickey as a solo hero of great strength and Mickey as a leader who amasses allies. I saw some of the types of choices the player can make and how those choices will affect the game world but I am excited to see how those choices play out across the entirety of the game. I hope the variety, creativity of level design and puzzles, and the complexities of choices remain engaging throughout the game. If “Epic Mickey” can keep the high standard of design I’ve seen so far the game has a chance to become one of the biggest surprises of 2010.

Epic Mickey

Epic Mickey


Disney Epic Mickey Official Site