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Epic Mickey: What is it, and when does it arrive?

Epic Mickey marks a new direction for Mickey Mouse.

By Matthew Shaer / September 16, 2010

Epic Mickey does away with the Mickey Mouse pictured at left, and re-imagines the iconic Disney character in a dark and ominous world.

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Epic Mickey – it sounds like a skateboard move. Actually, it's a game for the Nintendo Wii, and although Epic Mickey is still a few months out – release date is now set for Nov. 30 – the title is already drumming up a lot of interest among gamers of all stripes. Here's the gist: In Epic Mickey, you steer the famous Disney character through a kind of cemetery of faded cartoon icons.

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Your only weapons are a paintbrush and paint thinner, which you can use to create new objects or destroy impediments placed in your path. (Think of Epic Mickey like the video game answer to Browning's "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.") An Epic Mickey trailer posted to the Entertainment Weekly site showed a dark, phantasmagoric world, peopled by lurching monsters and evil sorcerers.

Disney has hinted that Epic Mickey is kind of a reboot for the beloved character – one that takes him from cute and cuddly cartoon icon to brave and embattled warrior. The questions now are manifold: Will Disney turn off potential gamers who prefer the Mickey of old? Will the game be dark and intriguing enough to appeal to "core" gaming audiences? And, perhaps most importantly, given flagging interest in the mouse, does Disney have a choice?

“There’s a distinct risk of alienating your core consumer when you tweak a sacred character, but at this point it’s a risk they have to take,” Matt Britton, the managing partner of Mr. Youth, a New York brand consultant firm, told the New York Times last year.

Epic Mickey joins a swath of new titles being released this fall for the Wii, a platform which has seen its market fortunes fade in recent months.

Back in August, Ubisoft announced that it would release the first-ever Ghost Recon game for the Nintendo Wii – a system that has yet to introduce a really successful shooter. Ubisoft says the Wii edition of Ghost Recon – a quasi-futuristic military war game – will feature 12 missions, set mostly in Norway and Moscow, and a two-player co-op experience with a "hot join" functionality, so a second player can dip in and out of the combat sequences.

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