Going into E3, I never fathomed leaving it most excited about a Wii title. Part of this is that I knew generally what Nintendo had to offer this year, apart from a few secrets, but mostly because of the letdown of Nintendo’s performance at the conference last year. This year, Nintendo’s effort at the show was arguably the best of all companies and this is a welcomed change since there has been little to for the Nintendo fan to cheer for lately other than a few standouts.
While the topper for Nintendo this year was the 3DS, it is clear that the Wii is not going to be ignored. With a bevy of excellent titles coming out, I am most excited about Epic Mickey. Oddly, I am not a big Disney movie buff and I have not even visited a Disney theme park despite living on multiple continents. But Disney’s ability to output universal story lines and memorable characters is still excellent and if they are to implement these things from throughout the company’s history then it will probably be something interesting for gamers to look into.
What attracts many people to Epic Mickey is its faint likeness to Kingdom Hearts, a video game series on the Playstation 2. While Kingdom Hearts may have appeared childish, due to its use of Disney characters and settings, this is only a surface observation as it is a very deep game action RPG. So instead of being merely a cash-in for Disney and Square Enix, the game did very well and fans eagerly anticipate a third in the series soon. Kingdom Hearts was important because it further demonstrated that a game’s aesthetics do not directly dictate the quality of a game. There are hundreds of others with superior graphics to Kingdom Hearts but hardly compete in all other aspects.
As a result of the awareness many gamers now have that simple cartoon-like graphics do not automatically make it a bad game, the anticipation of Epic Mickey’s release is quite high, deservedly. The graphic quality is hardly a concern for most people, apart from the seven hour first person shooter crowd, and since it is no longer fashionable to rip on the Wii’s graphics because it is obvious that the 360 and PS3 are just more powerful, the game will be judged on its gameplay and art style. The Wii has recently demonstrated with acclaimed titles that it is not all about graphics, but instead gameplay.
Epic Mickey is a game that appears to utilize all aspects of the Wii’s abilites, especially with controls. The game has what is being described as a bizarre visual revamp of the Disney universe. So not only does this mean that Mickey himself will look different, but so will all of the settings that he appears in. In most of the locations that I have seen so far, there is a more dreary and demented feeling, but not quite at Grim Fandango’s level. The art style is directly interacted with during the game as Mickey’s main weapon is a paint brush that he uses to draw in platforming elements or erase them completely.
The level design, as with most platformers, will be paramount and it is looking like a game that players will thoroughly enjoy thanks Warren Spector’s vision on how to integrate Disney’s well-known characters into a game that feels like it was created with care. It is always fascinating to experience the re-imagination of a character or setting and the Nintendo’s focus on games such as Epic Mickey at E3 indicates that there will many reasons to dust off your Wii.