Realizing that, over the past 40 years or so, Mickey Mouse has become less an adorable, sweatshirt-selling cartoon character and more a scary-faced symbol of ugly corporate culture and homogenized entertainment product, Disney is planning a makeover! The Times’ Brooks Barnes reports today that broad plans are in the works to re-imagine the conglomerate’s smiley mascot, apparently into something more relevant to the cynical, nihilistic children of today who’ve been weaned on X-rated cinema and apocalyptic video games. First on the agenda: an apocalyptic video game! (See scary concept art above.)
Video-game blogs have been on this for a while, but here’s the basic pitch:
Epic Mickey, designed for Nintendo’s Wii console, is set in a “cartoon wasteland” where Disney’s forgotten and retired creations live. The chief inhabitant is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a cartoon character Walt Disney created in 1927 as a precursor to Mickey but ultimately abandoned in a dispute with Universal Studios. In the game, Oswald has become bitter and envious of Mickey’s popularity. The game also features a disemboweled, robotic Donald Duck and a “twisted, broken, dangerous” version of Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World.” Using paint and thinner thrown from a magic paintbrush, Mickey must stop the Phantom Blot overlord, gain the trust of Oswald and save the day.
Sure the game sounds pretty desperate (even more so when you consider the original idea came from focus-grouped Disney interns) — but you know what? We’ll totally play it. Here’s some more leaked concept art: