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April 19, 2012

Disney to unleash Epic Mickey sequels on new gaming platforms

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The powers of Oswald The Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse work together in Epic Mickey 2.

Disney has announced two sequels to its popular Epic Mickey video game for Wii -- Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two for Play Station 3, Xbox 360 and Wii platforms, and Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for Nintendo 3DS systems.

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two brings Oswald the Lucky Rabbit into the game with Mickey, and legendary game designer Warren Spector and developer Junction Point Studios are introducing several new features, in addition to the expanded platforms.

Players will hear one of Walt Disney's first cartoon characters, Oswald, speak for the first time ever (voiced by Frank Welker). Oswald's electricity will combine with Mickey Mouse's magical paint brush to unlock new interactions; this suggests a new dual play format. In addition, the game aims to be the first to have characters singing at certain key moments. (Emmy award-winning composer James Dooley and lyricist Mike Himelstein were brought onboard to introduce the musical elements.)

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is again set in the world of forgotten Disney characters and theme park attractions called Cartoon Wasteland. In the original game, Mickey accidentally damages the world and is forced to try to fix it while fighting villains with his paintbrush.

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Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for Nintendo 3DS features dual screen mode, using both 2D (as seen in this shot) and 3D.

In Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for the 3DS, the innovations have gamers even more excited. Players will be immersed in a side-scrolling game with interactive painting, a dual-screen mode and sharp graphics in 3D mode.

The "power of illusion" is described this way in the press release: "The game offers a special drawing and painting function that allows players to create rough versions of objects that magically transform into classic Disney-style 2D illustrations. Utilizing the game's unparalleled dual screen integration, players then move their creations to the top screen where they are further transformed into full-color, fully-rendered 3D visuals."

Created by developer DreamRift and Junction Point Studios, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion again is set in Wasteland, but this time, the game pays homage to the classic Sega Genesis title "Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse." The evil witch Mizrabel from that game finds herself an unwilling inhabitant of Wasteland, and unleashes a plot to escape using the Castle of Illusion to imprison and drain the cartoon essence from currently famous Toons. Players will take on the role of Mickey Mouse as he tries to save the Toons.

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is available for pre-order on Amazon.com for $44.99 and In Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is listed at $34.99. Both have a release date of October 1.

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In 2010, gamers could preview Epic Mickey at Downtown Disney's Festival of the Masters.

When the original Epic Mickey was released in 2010, my then-eight-year-old son couldn't wait to get his hands on the game. Disney previewed it at a booth at Walt Disney World's Festival of the Masters. Guests could test drive Epic Mickey on four screens, and experts were on hand to help players get used to a game where they determine the course of play based on the decisions they make at certain points in the game. In addition, Disney artists were offering drawings of Mickey Mouse with his Epic Mickey paintbrush and illustrations of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. It was a great experience.

My son did find the original Epic Mickey to be difficult to play at first. Once we purchased a guidebook, though, he was better able to learn a few tricks that he could build on to go even farther into the game.

Although it hasn't been announced yet, it's not too soon to hope for another such opportunity to experience the new games this year at Downtown Disney.


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