It was the most coveted promotional item at 2012′s E3 and San Diego Comic-Con; it’s one of the most highly anticipated video games of the year — and now they can both be yours to treasure and best of all, you’ll save money doing it!
GameStop is now accepting pre-orders for ‘Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two’ for Wii, Wii U, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and is not only offering a discount of $5 when the game is purchased in advance, but is exclusively offering the ‘Epic Mickey 2′ Oswald Ears. A new take on the classic Mickey Mouse Ears found at Disney theme parks, the ‘Epic Mickey 2′ Oswald ears bear a different badge than the ears sold in the parks (if you can even manage to find them), so this is the perfect opportunity to start (or grow) your collection.
For more information and to pre-order ‘Disney Epic Mickey 2′ to stake your claim for you very own set of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit ears, visit GameStop.
‘We’re here to talk about “Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two,” clearly the best kept secret in video gaming,’ jokes Warren Spector, Creative Director and Vice President of Disney Interactive’s Junction Point Studio in Austin, TX at an after-hours media event held earlier this week at the Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History.
Before he takes the stage, however, he is introduced by Brenda Gunn, Associate Director at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas. Gunn speaks on Austin’s role in shaping the video game industry beginning in the 1970s and commends Spector who — along with Richard Garriott, George Sanger, and Bill Bottorff — inspired the University to create and maintain its massive collection of thousands of video games, consoles and development materials including concept art, design documents, game proposals and internal correspondence.
When it’s his turn to address the small crowd, Spector offers a refresher course on the first ‘Disney Epic Mickey’ via a trailer and stats. ‘Disney Epic Mickey was — and remains — the best selling single platform game in Disney Interactive’s history,’ he notes,’ So obviously we appealed to players.’
He continues on to explain that their objective with the first game was to create a game ‘that had the same broad appeal as a Pixar film or a classic film from Disney.’ Not intended to reach any specific demographic, he says, but to reach every one. Recapping the results of survey Disney administered to ‘Epic Mickey’ players, Spector says, ‘We really did make a game that appealed to everyone. Over half of our audience around the world was made up of adults. So I think on that score I’d have to say the game was pretty successful.’ So successful in fact, that according to the survey, Spector reports that over 90% of participants in every territory worldwide were interested in a sequel.
But tooting the company’s horn only goes so far as Spector owns up to what he felt could have potentially been handled better in the first game. He explains, ‘The first time out, creating a studio, creating a team, creating a tech base, creating a world, figuring out who these characters are, creating new game play patterns and new game systems, you never get everything right.’ He announces three things he seeked out to change in the sequel: camera, voice and persistence.
It’s of little surprise that the issue of the camera comes up as it is easily the feature from the first title that receives the most complaints. Seemingly defiant to the cause, Spector has famously defended the camera’s team and continues to do so, although he admits changes were needed. ‘The reality is we made a game that allowed players to determine whether the game felt like a platform game or an action-adventure game and those two genres require very different game camera systems… I think the team did an amazing job on the first game but we knew we could do better,’ he says. He then goes on to explain that in anticipation of the sequel, he dedicated the team from the beginning to work on improving the system. As a result, more than 1,000 specific changes were made to the automatic game camera system with the objective of the player never needing to touch the manual camera controls if sticking to the main story path.
When it comes characters speaking, Spector explains the reasoning behind choosing what they call ‘bark text’ in the original ‘Disney Epic Mickey.’ ‘We did that for two reasons,’ he says, ‘both of them really dumb and both of them my decisions.’ He explains that although the team was inspired by Disney for the original game, they also found inspiration in old Nintendo games and Japanese RPGs. His idea is then solidified when he decides that since Oswald was a silent film star and couldn’t talk, then nobody could: ‘I thought that was funny, that’s how dumb this is.’
To make up for it, Junction Point brought in comics writer Marv Wolfman (who already has a storied history with both Disney and Marvel in particular). Wolfman helped craft the game’s story and wrote the dialogue for all of the characters who are voiced by their respective Disney voice talent. Returning as the (actual) voice of Oswald is Frank Welker. We later have the opportunity to hear Oswald’s voice very briefly, which to me sounds a bit like a slightly higher pitched version of another of Welker’s famous characters, Fred Jones of ‘Scooby Doo’ (though I reserve the right to regret that description later on). Oswald’s significant other, Ortensia, ‘is a character from start to finish that you interact with a lot,’ though who providers her voice is currently a secret. Gremlins also take a more prominent role in the sequel and are fully voiced, but Spector tells us only that they are voiced by some ‘interesting names.’ It would later be confided in me that one of the mysterious voices is that of actor Cary Elwes (famously of The Princess Bride and recently featured in The Adventures of Tintin).
If speaking weren’t enough, Spector also pronounces ‘Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two’ as being the first musical comedy video game. He says, ‘much of the story is told through song, so I want all the Gleeks to turn out in force for it.’ While Jim Dooley returned to compose the music for the game (whose tone changes based on the mood of the game), the songs’ lyrics are penned by Mike Himselstein (who we’re told performs double duty as the voice of Yen Sid). How many songs are in the game is a secret (we will later hear one as part of the opening cinematic), but I was told ‘at least five,’ that you will have to play the game through different ways to hear them all and we can expect 1 or two additional songs to debut at E3.
The third obstacle Spector looked to tackle was persistence: ‘If your choices actually aren’t permanent — if they don’t matter — if when you leave a map, the changes you made revert when you come back, play style doesn’t matter as much as it should… every thing you do in “Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two” is forever until you decide to undo it… if you erase something, it stays erased. If someone doesn’t like you, they stay not liking you until you change your mind.’
While the game will include familiar places and settings such as Mean Streets, it offers ‘many all new places’ to visit as well as new takes on familiar ones. Whereas in the first game, Yen Sid’s workshop was only seen in the cinematic, it now serves as the training ground for Mickey to explore. OsTown becomes significantly more involved although Spector notes it has since been changed by ‘seemingly natural events’ since Mickey has seen it last. Spector also shows us a still from ‘let’s just say a version of Frontierland,’ noting it was ‘something we wanted to do in the first game… Frontierland has changed more than any other part of the Disney Parks, so there’s plenty of forgotten, rejected stuff to have fun with there.’
A new army has risen in the Wastelands too, a curious hybrid of Blotlings and Beetleworx known as Blotworx. How exactly this new species came about is all part of the mystery surrounding the sequel’s story.
Spector then treats us to the opening cinematic for the game which clocks in at around 4 1/2 minutes and helps to explain what’s been occurring between the two titles as well as introduces us to our first song and sets the initial mood for the game.
‘If “Disney Epic Mickey” was the story of Mickey as a hero, reminding people that he is a video game star,’ Spector says, ‘”Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two” is as much about Oswald and — now that we’ve reminded the world who he is — making him a big star.’
He then introduces Becky Cline, Director of the Walt Disney Archives, to dole out some history on Oswald, how he came to be, how Walt Disney lost control and how Robert Iger bartered for Oswald by offering up sportscaster Al Michaels. She talks about some of the Oswald items she has brought from the archives to share, some of which just recently discovered and never displayed publicly, but her biggest treat by far is being convinced by Spector to screen a copy of ‘Hungry Hoboes’ for the audience of media and Junction Point developers. The 1928 short was thought to be lost for good but was just recently discovered at the Huntley Film Archive of Herefordshire, UK. The only known print of the short went up for auction last December and sold to an anonymous buyer for $31,250 and is now in the hands of The Walt Disney Company.
It’s an incredible thrill to see the short by Walt Disney that only a handful outside of Disney have seen in more than eight decades. It’s an absolutely funny (and sadistic) film loaded with one sight gag after another — let’s just say I learned a whole new way to collect eggs from a chicken.
I will later have the opportunity to speak with Cline after the event and ask about plans to release it, but the film has yet to be fully soundtracked and restored, so it may be some time before that will happen. Cline will also explain how most of the films that are recovered tend to be from overseas because they generally didn’t require the films to be returned to the distributor. Also of interest is that while the title card of the film does actually read ‘Hungry Hobos,’ the official title and copyright is for ‘Hungry Hoboes,’ with the Disney Archives at a loss for why the discrepancy.
Spector then re-addresses the group to discuss the ‘couch co-op’ play aspect of the game. ‘The two characters have distinct and unique, complementary abilities,’ he says. Mickey has the ability to use his sketches, paint and thinner, while Oswald has a remote control that allows him to zap enemies and repair and even reprogram electronics and animatronics throughout the Wasteland. Oswald also has ‘helicopter ears,’ which while don’t really afford him the ability to fly, they allow him to glide slowly back to earth, allowing Mickey to hop on for a ride as needed (or for fun). Speaking of sketches, Spector doesn’t mention it, but Mickey has a new one in ‘Disney Epic Mickey 2,’ the fairy sketch, which allows Mickey to make objects light enough to levitate and move through space. Oswald himself has another unspoken talent, the ability to detach his leg and use it as a boomerang to battle enemies.
The split-screen, ‘couch co-op’ play is drop-in, drop-out and is supplemented by AI. Oswald is with Mickey every step of the way, whether there is a second player or not. If co-op play isn’t taking place, Oswald will assist brother Mickey the best he can.
Note no mention of rumored ‘Power of Illusion’ Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Android or Apple iOS devices is made during the presentation.
I now have the opportunity to actually play a demo of the game on all three consoles. Areas to explore include the training level in Yen Sid’s workshop and Mickey’s ‘house,’ OsTown and the 2D transition levels known as the Dahl Engineering Corridors (DECs), so named for noted children’s author Roald Dahl who created the Gremlins and worked with Walt Disney on related projects.
The first thing I notice is how remarkably similar the game play is between the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. There are some differences of course, the most notable one being the lower resolution on the Wii, which is almost sad after experiencing it on the NextGen consoles. While PlayStation Move support is expected (but not available for the demo), the Wii does have another major advantage in the controls, those being the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controllers. In fact there is at least one sequence in which Oswald re-programs a device by slowly turning the Wii Remote. On that note, the Junction Point team also brought along working prototypes of an Oswald Remote Control Nunchuck which complements the ‘Epic Mickey’ paintbrush one. Surprisingly, I find the controls on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 to be really simple to use and get accustomed to, although I do not like how the crosshairs automatically snap back to the center of the screen when you let go of the analog control, making aiming particularly challenging at times.
The DEC transition level proves to be fun and entertaining enough and is full of Disneyana and tributes to Disney films and characters, featuring everything from a giant Chip head to the judge from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to a Dumbo comic book to Goofy pogs that were part of a one-time publicity event, but reside in the Disney Archives as a result. Here is also a not-so-hidden basketball hoop which is one of the elements that exists in every game by Warren Spector (in ‘Epic Mickey,’ it was in a hidden room).
The co-op play is pretty fun and direct although it appears that Oswald sometimes has an artificial mind of his own within the mode. It may simply be a matter of the game still being developed, but it can usually be easily remedied by dropping out and back in after he sets himself straight. When not in co-op mode, Oswald is on his own and usually does a pretty good job at supporting Mickey, although he sometimes seems a bit bored through the process and will either entertain himself by removing his foot and studying it. On occasion, he will do something that doesn’t quite make sense, although it turns out that he seems to be aware of elements of the game that haven’t quite made it into the demo too.
The automatic camera control seems way more refined for me when I play on the Xbox 360, so much so that it’s almost obvious to me how much better it is, but as time goes on, I start falling out of love with it, often finding myself having to switch to manual operations, either because the automatic system didn’t keep up with me, or I’ve managed to require some odd perspective to complete a task. Often times I also end up with the screen being obfuscated by large polygons I can only presume to be my head. That aside, I find the d-pad manual controls easy to use on the NextGen devices and have little problem managing the camera as I need to do to unlock a Hidden Mickey constellation in the training level.
One other discouraging element, ironically enough, is the voice. The demo environment is so noisy that it was impossible to hear most of the gameplay so I find myself wishing subtitles were at least an option. It is still in development, however, so hopefully they will be added in the future, not just for noisy environments, but for playing with the sound muted in quiet environments and, of course, out of courtesy for the deaf.
Below are some photos from the event as well the box art and some screenshots from the NextGen and Wii consoles provided to us by Disney Interactive as well as some raw gameplay footage and the game’s announcement trailer.
Lastly, in celebration of the announcement, I would like to offer the opportunity for one Stitch Kingdom reader to receive this limited edition ‘Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two’ t-shirt. Featuring Mickey and Oswald against the Texas star, this shirt was produced for the Junction Point development team as well as event invitees. It is sold orange aside from the design and features the ‘Epic Mickey 2′ logo in white on the back. Please note you must be 18+ and a US resident to win.
The months-long question ‘am I a man or am I a Muppet?’ has finally been answered and it’s a resounding BOTH! It’s time to Muppet Up in ‘Disney Universe’ for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as Disney Interactive Studios has released the much anticipated Muppets downloadable content (DLC) pack on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.
Costumes for Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great and Animal are now available for purchase for $.99 (PSN) or 80 points (XbL) each or as a set for $2.99 (PSN) or 240 points (XbL). Each costume also comes with a costume-inspired upgradeable tool as well.
Below are our galleries of costumes and screenshots from ‘Disney Universe’ which now feature the ‘Muppets’ downloadable content.
Microsoft has recently released new stills and a gameplay video for its upcoming Xbox Kinect title, ‘Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure.’ Using KinectScan technology, players can scan themselves into the game and create a unique, custom avatar to enjoy the game.
Based on several popular Disney/Pixar films (Up, Toy Story, The Incredible, Cars and Ratatouille), ‘Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure‘ allows gamers to use both their bodies and their voice to solve play games and solve puzzles. A unique co-op play option will allow gamers to play with friends or to team up directly with one of the Disney/Pixar characters.
Below is a new video featuring gameplay footage. It bears repeating that the primary character in the game is an actual avatar representing the player themselves while the characters from the film are providing support in the form of co-op play. The video also demonstrates quite well how the game sweeps the player into the classic films.
Microsoft has also released several new stills from the game along with a photographic demonstration of the KinectScan process (and results), which we have added to the beginning of our gallery below:
House Party is also offering an exciting opportunity for Xbox 360/Kinect owners to host a ‘Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure’ party. Applicants chosen to host a party will receive a party pack consisting of a copy of the game, Disney/Pixar postcards, a poster advertising the game and ‘VIP passes’ featuring a branded lanyard. For more information and to apply to host a party, see here.
Developed by Asobo Studio and released by Microsoft, ‘Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure‘ is rated E for everyone for cartoon violence. It will be available to own on March 20, 2012.
Even Disney fans who don’t own a Microsoft Xbox 360 system with Kinect will have something to look forward to when the new ‘Kinect: Disneyland Adventures’ from Microsoft and Frontier Developments makes its way onto the shelves this Tuesday. Disney Music is in the process of creating a brand new website that will feature music used from and inspired by the game (read: Disneyland) and will even be offering free downloads, allowing you to experience a bit of the park at home.
At KDASoundtrack.com, which is currently under development and not yet completely functional, online guests will find links to various tunes available for purchase that will relate to the game and — by definition — the Disneyland theme park itself. At launch time, the site also will allow online guests to download two songs for free: ‘In My Merry Oldsmobile’ from Main Street USA and ‘Buffalo Gals’ from the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad queue.
Available Tuesday, November 15, ‘Disneyland ‘Adventures will allow children and Disney fans of all ages to explore Disneyland park, enjoy immersive adventures based on popular attractions, engage in challenging quests, and interact with beloved Disney characters using their full bodies and voices, no controller required. ‘Kinect: Disneyland Adventures’ is your ticket to the magical world of Disneyland through Kinect, right in your living room.
Kinect: Disneyland adventures is now available for pre-order.
ABC Entertainment Group and Activision Publishing, Inc. today announced that Wipeout in the Zone is coming this summer to Kinect(tm), controller-free games and entertainment, for Xbox 360(r). Based on the ABC hit show “Wipeout,” Wipeout in the Zone will be the latest release in this hit video game franchise and will have players running, ducking, dodging and wiping out using Kinect for Xbox 360′s full-motion capabilities right in their own living room.
“The ABC hit show ‘Wipeout’ continues to thrill a growing fan base of viewers with hilarious new obstacles. Everyone who watches the show wishes they could try the obstacle course – and now this is their chance!,” said David Oxford, Activision Publishing. “The show is all about absurd movement and well-timed balance, so it’s a perfect fit for a Kinect game.”
Wipeout in the Zone features over thirty outrageous obstacles that will test players’ limits in more ridiculous ways than ever. Players can try to run the entire course in one shot, conquering one challenge after another, such as leaping over a pool of water using the infamous “Big Balls” and maneuvering their players to avoid being pummeled by the “Smack Wall Sweeper.” Once again featuring the talents and hilarious commentary of the show’s hosts, John Anderson, John Henson and co-host Jill Wagner, Wipeout in the Zone will bring hours upon hours of fun and laughter for the entire family.
“We are thrilled to be continuing our successful relationship with ABC and Activision,” said David Goldberg, Chairman of Endemol North America. “Not only is this new ‘Wipeout’ game filled with even more humor, spills and thrills, but now the entire family can play interactively with the new full motions capabilities. This game introduces a new level of excitement for ‘Wipeout’ fans of all ages to play.”
Wipeout in the Zone will be Kinect ready for the Xbox 360(r) video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, and available on retail shelves this summer in conjunction with the premier of “Wipeout’s” summer season on ABC.
This game is not yet rated by the ESRB. For more information, please visit www.activision.com.
At E3, Performance Designed Products (PDP) unveiled some of its offerings for late this year which includes custom licensed controllers for Disney’s ‘TRON Evolution’ for the PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii as well as what is reported to be a TRON-themed iPad case complete with light-up elements.
PDP also revealed its peripherals planned for ‘Epic Mickey’ from Disney Interactive and Junction Point Studios: a paint-brush themed housing for the Wii Remote and a Wii Remote recharger-slash-sculpture featuring Mickey facing the Phantom Blot.
Armada of the Damned is an entirely new experience within the Pirates of the Caribbean universe. The game takes place before the events of the blockbuster films. Players will take on the role of a pirate and embark on epic land and sea adventures. Numerous moral and character choices will need to be made that affect their character and the original story within the world. Players will explore a massive open world while fighting enemies, mystical creatures and Mother Nature, both to gain experience and stay alive. Supernatural elements familiar to the Pirates of the Caribbean world will also affect their character’s story and influence their choices.
“Armada of the Damned is a dynamic action role-playing game that captures all of the franchise’s excitement, unpredictability and action while delving into narrative elements never before explored within this unique universe,” said Dan Tudge, vice president and general manager, Propaganda Games. “Our team’s collective experience with industry-leading RPGs and action titles provides a strong foundation for us to create and build a compelling action role-playing title.”
Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned will be available for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC and is now available for pre-order from Amazon.com.
ESPN today announced a collaboration with Microsoft, exclusive within the game console category, to introduce the ultimate interactive experience for sports fans. The deal will bring ESPN3.com’s live events, ESPN.com’s video-on-demand clips and sports highlights and other interactive features to the Xbox 360 console.
Beginning in November, Xbox LIVE Gold members who receive their Internet connection from an affiliated service provider will have access to more than 3,500 live, global events every year via ESPN3.com – ESPN’s 24/7 broadband sports network – including college basketball, college football and bowl games, MLB, NBA, international soccer, tennis including all four Grand Slam tournaments, golf majors and more. Fans will also be able to replay sports and events with full DVR control, pull up current scores on-demand while watching the game and easily switch between events and see what the most popular games are in the Xbox LIVE community in real time.
ESPN content and features available to all Xbox LIVE Gold members include:
- Daily Highlights: Access to ESPN.com video clips and daily sports highlights streamed on-demand;
- Kinect for Xbox 360 Integration: Microsoft’s new technology allows fans to control the content they watch with just their voice or wave of the hand;
- Team Affiliation: Declare favorite teams and see how many other people in the Xbox LIVE community are also fans;
- Social Activities: Connect to the Xbox LIVE community with in-game social activities like polls, trivia and prediction questions and more.
What happens when a half a dozen cars taking part in an illegal street race find themselves rolling through an exploding power plant at full speed? Such is the common-place, ordinary, humdrum scenario explored in the following new video featuring gameplay footage from Split/Second from Disney Interactive Studios and Block Rock Studio.
Available to own on Xbox, PS3 and Windows platforms on May 18, Split/Second is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.