I had a great time being able to try the upcoming Disney title Epic Monkey. I was able to speak with one of the game’s animators, and she gave me the run down of this very stylistic title that is just oozing with cool. Even the cutscenes are amazing and reminiscent of something you see during the credits of a Pixar movie. They have this storyboard look that the developers created, and the end result was simply stunning.
Players will be able to run around Disney environments that have been modified to fit inside the bleak world that Mickey finds himself in, nicknamed the Cartoon Wasteland where rejected cartoons go to die a silent death. For example, I was playing on Skull Island, which is a twist on Skull Rock from Peter Pan. I was tasked to raise the boat that had sunk into the sea in order to go after Hook, the villain of Peter Pan. In order to get around from place to place, characters will be able to jump into these projector screens and visit gone-but-never-forgotten cartoons, like inside the world of Steamboat Willie.
With brush in hand, Mickey will have a myriad of tools made available to him as the game goes on. During the demo, the two major tools were used — Paint and Paint Thinner. There were many opportunities to use these tools around the environment where you will find things missing, like an outline of a bridge to the next area, or just something that is just plain blocking the way, like a giant boulder covering a cave. Basically, Paint restores, thinner removes. Characters will also use the paint to charm enemies, which comes in real handy when the stakes are against you, and thinner to destroy them which comes in use against foes like robots whom are immune to your mind-bending paint.
More tools will become available as the game goes on to help your way through the Cartoon Wasteland. How you use these tools during story objectives affects the outcome of the game completely. For example, during the demo, if you use paint to fill the machines that are creating these robots, you are able to turn these things back into human beings. If you fill it with thinner, you destroy these robots, and they will obviously not be skin and bone ever again. Based on your decision, the people you meet in the world will react to you differently when you speak to them, a great dynamic that really makes you think before you act. It is certainly different to see a morality system inside a game of this nature, but it just feels natural that works great in motion.
You could really see the mark that Warren Spector made on the game with the deep, deep character development and masterful storytelling. The game also had a lot of charm to it with all of these characters I remember from my childhood that I had nearly forgotten altogether (something the developers are deliberately doing, so don’t expect to see too many typical characters of the Disney pallate). The whimsical music only enhanced the already compelling atmosphere. But really, what did you expect with all of the hype surrounding a game of this nature? Ladies and gentlemen, we may be looking at the best Mickey game yet, maybe even better than Mickey.
Epic Monkey is set to be released exclusively for the Wii during the 2010 Holiday season.