The call is coming from inside the House of Mouse
It’s not too often that you see a brand-new game where Mickey Mouse is the star. We’ve been lucky enough to get one on Switch in Disney Illusion Island, but to find another game with Mickey in the starring role, you have to go back quite some time.
Fans of Disney in general and Mickey specifically will no doubt remember Epic Mickey, a Wii title that caused quite a groundswell of excitement when it was announced. While the game itself ended up being a somewhat mixed bag, there’s no denying the ideas involved and the characters utilized were endlessly interesting.
Epic Mickey was spearheaded by legendary developer Warren Spector, and in a new blog from the man himself, we get more insight than ever on how Epic Mickey came to be. Surprisingly, it seems the project moved very quickly, and the core idea came from Disney staffers, rather than Spector.
Graham Hopper, who headed up Disney’s game division at the time, asked me if I’d be interested in making any licensed games. Here’s where you have to understand that I’ve been a huge Disney fan for… well… forever. I said, “Yeah. Give me The Night Stalker or Ducktales and I’m in.” (I had an idea for a monster-of-the-week game that would have been perfect for ABC’s Night Stalker series and I love Carl Barks and Scrooge McDuck.) Graham looked at me and said, “What about Mickey Mouse?”
It took me three seconds to think, “Is he kidding? The most recognizable icon on player Earth?” I said, “Yes!” I have to admit that, with Mickey as my star, I could reach a mainstream audience with the Imm Sim game approach, but I probably would have done anything to work with Mickey.
Graham said, “We have a Mickey concept I’d like to show you. You don’t have to use any of it. Just tell us what you think.” So Luigi Priore, who’s been with Disney forever, pulled up a PowerPoint and pitched a concept dreamed up by some interns. Some very, very creative interns! It had a lot of elements that made it all the way into the shipping Epic Mickey game. Graham reiterated that I didn’t have to use any of their pitch but I had a quick reply. “Are you kidding? Why wouldn’t I use some of those ideas? You have some pretty creative folks at Disney and that concept is really strong. You’ve given me an acorn and I want to grow it into an oak tree! I’m in!”