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“Disney Epic Mickey” Modernizes Magnificient Mouse

“Disney Epic Mickey” Modernizes Magnificient Mouse (photo)

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Warren Spector wants Mickey Mouse to take out Master Chief. The acclaimed game designer behind ground-breaking titles like the original “Deus Ex” and Thief believes that Walt Disney’s best-known creation has it in him to become a video game star to rival the Spartans of Halo or iconic PlayStation characters Nathan Drake and Kratos.

With his team at the Junction Point development studio, Spector’s building the game that he believes will do just that. “Disney Epic Mickey” casts the world’s most recognizable mouse into an adventure that plumbs the forgotten corners of Disney history, while providing a morally morphable version of Mickey. The game happens in the Wasteland, a once-peaceful retirement dimension where long-forgotten characters and amusements from Uncle Walt’s empire reside. The pocket universe is the work of the Wizard from The Sorceror’s Apprentice, clearly meant as an allegory to Walt himself. When the magic mirror from that same movie beckons, Mickey teleports through to the Wizard’s workroom. There he finds a magic paintbrush with tubs of paint and thinner that can create or erase the cartoon essence that makes up all the Disney characters. Tomfoolery on Mickey’s part winds up spilling the two magic liquids onto the Wasteland, as well as creating the Phantom Blot, the game’s big villain.

Later events pull Mickey into the Wasteland where he has to make amends for the damage his actions caused. Using paint, he can rebuild parts of the world or he can erase elements of the geometry using thinner. The game tracks how constructive or destructive you are and characters’ responses to you will change as a result. “Epic Mickey” will also confront players with choices that shape Mickey’s personality. Choosing the loot of a treasure box over helping to free a friendly, trapped Gremlin gets characters buzzing about what a jerk you are.

Setting up this kind of conflicted heroism may seem like a stretch for Mickey Mouse , but Spector says he’s only bringing to bear behavioral aspects of Mickey that have already been displayed in the character’s extensive filmography. And Mickey’s not the only character who gets added depth in the game. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney’s first successful creation, plays a prominent role in the game as the ruler of the Wasteland.

Walt Disney actually lost the rights to the character and wound up creating Mickey as a replacement. The game casts Oswald as a slightly jealous older brother with a tense relationship meeting the younger Mickey who wound up with the fame and adulation that could have been Oswald’s. So, the mischievious and sometimes self-centered company icon gets a varied emotional palette in the upcoming game and players will be able to make decision that swing that pendulum even further across the poles of selfishness or altruism. Spector’s known as a pioneer in the type of game design that’s centered on player choice and the mechanics in “Epic Mickey” fall in line with the build-your-own-solution modes of most of his work.

The Austin resident says the game’s a dream come true for an animation buff like himself. Old theme park rides serve as some of the game’s levels and travelling between environments happens via side-scrolling adventures through old Disney movie scenes. Moreover, the game’s cutscenes play out in a visual style that mimics the work of artist Mary Blair, whose style of mid-century cute informed the creation of “It’s A Small World” attraction. You really get the sense that the vaults are being opened with “Disney Epic Mickey” and the game could re-introduce a new generation to not only Mickey Mouse, but the expansive genius of his creator, too.

“Disney Epic Mickey” comes out exclusively for the Nintendo Wii on November 30th.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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