The New York Times has a story in today's paper about a quiet new effort by Disney to re-invent the character at the core of it all: Mickey Mouse.
I know it seems hard to believe - messing with the mouse himself? This is one of the most recognizable figures in the world.
The beginning for Mickey's possible transformation will likely come with the release of Epic Mickey, a bold, daring video game set for release next Fall. In Epic Mickey, the Mouse is more daring, more mischievous and even cunning -- a significant departure from the clean do-no-wrong image Mickey Mouse evolved into after 80 years of existence. One thing that won't change, says the game's designer, Mickey won't be evil.
The funny thing is that the Mickey portrayed in Epic Mickey is more like the Mickey Mouse of Walt Disney's imagination -- one who is mischievous, boisterous and even a little amorous with female characters (Minnie).
Epic Mickey also will feature another famous Disney creation -- Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. In the game, Oswald's a bit bitter about being left high and dry. In reality this happened because of rights problems with Universal. In fact, Disney had to trade to get Oswald back. What did they trade? Al Michaels, of all things. Turns out, Disney CEO let NBC have Al Michaels in return for rights to Oswald.
Of even greater importance -- the article indicates that Epic Mickey may just be the first wave in a transformation of Mickey Mouse. Apparently, Disney is very quietly looking at ways to freshen up the mouse for today's kids. Whether this effort will go any further than Epic Mickey is anyone guess at this point.
As for Epic Mickey (by the way, it's only for the Wii), this is one game I most certainly will be getting next year. It looks fantastic - especially some of the screen shots of the wasteland theme park.
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