Epic Mickey was a Disney fans dream. Not only was it Mickey Mouses first starring role in far too long, it was like an interactive museum of classic Disney animation. So dense was designer Warren Spectors homage to classic mouse house material, we catalogued 50 Disney references in Epic Mickey.
Epic Mickey 2s release date is expected to be September, but we cant wait that long to start dissecting the mouse house goodness itll surely offer. Weve heard that Epic Mickey will be a fully voice acted rump with an improved camera and full blown musical numbers, as is the grand Disney tradition. With that in mind, join us for a trip down Disney memory lane for a look at the lost worlds wed like to see Epic Mickey 2 resurrect.
Epic Mickey taught us that Disney magic started not with a mouse but with a rabbit. However, Walt had another muse even before that. Her name was Alice, and she was real live little girl actor Disney inserted into animated shorts. Alice and her feline friend Julius (a Felix the Cat look-alike) went on over 50 short film adventures. Called the Alice Comedies, these films were a precursor to so many things Disney: female protagonists, mixing live action with animation, and adapting Lewis Carrolls Alices Adventures in Wonderland.
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: Since Epic Mickey was all about unearthing forgotten Disney history, its almost ironic that the Alice Comedies have yet to receive a tribute. While Alice herself was even less fleshed out as a character than Oswald or early Mickey, the odd and extremely early mixing of live action and animation would bring a completely new look to Epic Mickey 2. It would be like adding a full motion video character to an otherwise traditionally rendered game!
Make Mine Music
This collection of musical shorts is somewhat overlooked compared to its award-winning, highbrow older brother Fantasia. Composed of ten segments, it was produced at time when Disney was busy making training and propaganda films for the government, and found it easier to put together short film collections than whole feature films. This was a hard film to get your hands on for a long time, it only came to DVD as recently as 2000.
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: Warren Spector has said he plans to have musical numbers in Epic Mickey 2, so what could be a better choice than some of the shorts from Make Mine Music? Its totally the Oswald to Fantasias Mickey, so it has that misfit status the Epic Mickey designers go for. Of its ten segments, the most well remembered would likely be Peter and the Wolf. Wed love to see Mickey and Oswald go along on this adventure.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Before the booming direct to DVD business, Disney liked to produce shorter features and play them back to back for theatrical release. One of the most beloved joint ventures of that period was a literary/folklore adaptation, cartoons of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Wind in the Willows. Possibly to avoid an even lengthier combined title, Disney released it under the name The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: Both cartoons are loved by some, forgotten by others. Theyre also slightly infamous among young viewers for being somewhat frightening. Ichabods tale stayed true to the traditional Sleepy Hollow story and ended up scarier than the average Disney production, especially with its open-to-interpretation ending. Mr. Toad, however, might be most famous for his aptly named Mr. Toads Wild Ride attraction at Disneyland. Our idea for an Epic Mickey 2 appearance? Give these guys the co-starring role they never had! Build an intense chase sequence with the Headless Horsemen and the weasel gang in hot pursuit.
Frontierland is one of the five original themed lands featured in Disneyland. Originally it was conceived of by Walt himself as place where guests could ride horses, travel by wagon or pack mule, basically experience a fun version of the old west. Nowadays, its more like the rest of the park, with a focus on games and rides, especially the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster.
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: OK, so its been announced that Frontierland is going to be featured as a level in Epic Mickey 2. That still leaves a lot up in the air, however. This simulated wild west has gone through dozens of revisions since 1955, so what era will Mr. Spector pick for his game? Were hoping for at least a glimpse of the original Frontierland, wagon trains and all.
Goofy how to shorts
The How to videos were Disney at their most satirical. The 1940s were the golden era of bad instructional videos, and Disney took them to task with a slew of parodies starring an unlikely role model, Goofy. Sometimes referred to in these shorts as George, he engaged in any kind of activity that could be mined for physical comedy gold. While Goofy generally gave a demonstration of what not to do, one had to admire his clumsy determination.
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: From the forties onward, Goofy had just about done it all in the name of making us laugh at his expense. Pole vaulting, baseball, high diving, there are a million things Mickey and Oswald could do with Disney's most unlikely leading man. These shorts are too hilarious to be ignored, even the oldest ones hold up very well. Disney even makes the occasional How to short today, like How to Hook Up Your Home Theater in 2007.
Capcoms Ducktales for NES is one of the most fondly remembered platformers of its era. Not just for being related to the fantastic Ducktales cartoons and comics, but for being an all around excellent game. Players controlled Scrooge McDuck on a globe trotting quest to add five ancient treasures to his already obscene collection of riches. Scrooge defeated enemies in his traditional manner, with sharp crack from his cane, and could also bounce on it like a pogo stick. The game had a structure similar to a Mega Man game, where levels could played in any order and revisited.
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: First off, Warren Spector loves the ducks. Hes written Ducktales comic books and has said he wants to make a Ducktales game. So maybe Mr. Spector is saving his best ideas for a standalone game, but Capcoms 8-bit classic deserves a nod at least. The original Epic Mickey had some Disney game cartridges lying around, with Capcoms logo conveniently scrubbed off. Sure, Epic Mickey 2 could just show the cartridge, but why not go one further with an 8-bit-style Ducktales level?
Victory through Airpower (wartime shorts)
Yes, Disney was an integral part of the US governments propaganda machine during WWII, and yes, a lot of what they produced is horribly racist and embarrassing when viewed in the modern light. Still, Disney was called upon by Uncle Sam to do their part, and theres no shame in that. Victory through Airpower and the other wartime shorts are relics of a bygone era, and reflect a defining moment in American history. They deserve some sort of tribute in a series that honors mouse house history.
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: Mickey Mouse on a bombing run would a little weird, but surely there is a place for some WWII imagery an Epic Mickey 2 conflict. Wasteland air raids? Tanks rolling through Mean Street? A naval battle for the Jolly Roger? Nothing says final battle like some heavy war machinery.
Not everyone knows it but renowned visualist and professional Johnny Depp enthusiast Tim Burton got his start as a Disney animator. As he rose through the ranks and developed his personal style, the mouse house struggled to find projects suited to his twisted touch. The results were several unreleased or under-seen experimental shorts from the B man, one of which was Vincent, a creepy, funny stop motion short Disney still owns the rights to. After Burton became a household name, Disney got to work with their old alumnus developing the Nightmare Before Christmas and Frankenweenie. Vincent, however, still sits on Disney shelves and YouTube.
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: First off, theres Vincent himself. A woebegone little boy obsessed with Vincent Price, hes the perfect forgotten misfit type character that the Epic Mickey series celebrates. Second, a stop motion tribute would bring a whole new aesthetic to Epic Mickey 2. Burtons long shadows and whimsical yet nightmarish creatures would be right at home in the Wasteland. Lastly, it would be a fitting tribute to Disneys most influential graduates.
The Brave Little Toaster
The Brave Little Toaster is an underdog tale on-screen and off. The story of five outdated appliances searching for their master, it struggled to find a home and studio executives who would believe in it. Its hard to blame the suits, not everyone thought its deep themes and occasionally dark sequences would resonate with (or not frighten) children. Some dont even consider it a true Disney film, since the mouse house only distributed it. However, the film, which never got a theatrical run, was unveiled to the viewing public on the Disney Channel, and eventually got a VHS release in the traditional white clamshell box.
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: Its not quite forgotten, but it's certainly the kind of scrappy production Epic Mickey seems to have a soft spot for. It's also got an exciting, somewhat melancholy tone that seems perfect for the series. Plus the movies junkyard sequence would make an excellent platforming level.
The Black Cauldron
The Black Cauldron was a tumultuous production for Disney, mainly due to internal conflicts over the films content. A Lord of the Rings-style dark fantasy tale, its release was delayed so scenes involving zombies and man being melted by acid mist could be toned down. Then after all that arguing and editing, the film failed to turn much of a profit (outgrossed by The Care Bears Movie, ouch). However, nothing says cult classic like unusually dark content and a box office miss. The Black Cauldron also became a Sierra point and click adventure that bore much resemblance to Kings Quest.
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: Under-loved, under-seen and perhaps a little too dark, The Black Cauldron is an oddball film that wouldnt be out of place in the Wasteland world. It has its fans and Disney knows it, which is why it came to DVD in 2000. Let us decide how dark The Black Cauldron should be! We could use Mickeys magic paintbrush to erase the zombies and melting men, or build them back in with paint.
Oh Runaway Brain, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. It was Mickeys first starring role in far too long, and possibly the darkest, funniest thing hed been in for decades. It was your standard brain swap comedy/Frankenstein parody, but the shorts high quality animation, breakneck pacing, and winning characterization of a modern Mickey and Minnie garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short. Yet even with all that pedigree, its still something of an underseen cult classic. Internationally, it played before A Goofy Movie, and stateside before nineties live action Disney dreck like A Kid in King Arthurs Court and George of the Jungle. Luckily, its now available on DVD and YouTube. It also features Mickey Mouse playing a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs video game!
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: The Epic Mickey games are known for two things: bringing a dark, revisionist tone to Mickey history, and drudging up forgotten Disney gems. Runaway Brain is basically both of those things in one hilarious, surprisingly intense package. Julius, the Frankensteins monster-like villain of the piece had a small cameo in Kingdom Hearts 3D, but we think this short is primed for a full-blown homage. At least let us play some of that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs game!
elecTRONica was a nighttime lights, lasers and music show put on by Disney California Adventure to celebrate Tron: Legacys success at the box office, and blast that Daft Punk soundtrack that was the movies chief redeeming quality. There were neon lights, loud music, dancers decked out in day-glo, and best of all, a recreated Flynns Arcade full of old school arcade games. It was a smashing success, and got extended beyond its originally scheduled dates. Sorry Tron fans, its all packed up now.
Why it deserves the Epic Mickey treatment: The great thing about Disney references in Epic Mickey is that theyre not limited to just the movies. The game also does great things with Disney theme park rides and attractions. Thats why the elecTRONica dance party at Disney California Adventure would make a great level. The original Epic Mickey had an awesome day-glo tribute to the Tron aesthetic, and the Kingdom Hearts games have already done the original Tron and the new Tron: Legacy. An elecTRONica level would be the perfect excuse to trot out the Tron aesthetic once again, and set it the whole thing to a blistering electro-dance soundtrack.
Where do you want Epic Mickey 2 to go?
Alright mouseketeers, we've blabbed long enough. Now that we've had our say about Epic Mickey 2, tell us what obscure attractions or Disney productions you want to see in this Epic Mickey sequel.