?Although Epic Mickey was listed as one of Topless Robot‘s nine biggest disappointments of 2010 — based mostly on that awesome early concept art and what could’ve been — that doesn’t mean the game itself is totally without merit. In fact, I’ve played the game and I have to say, other than some camera issues and some responsiveness problems, it’s hella awesome. As a gamer and a huge Disney fan, I loved it both for the adventure aspects of it and the smart nods to the vast history of the Disney empire.
The game has obvious characters appear, like Donald, Goofy, Clarabelle, and the Beast, and it all takes place in a run-down version of Disneyland, complete with appropriate landmarks. And while everything (down to the barrels in Tomorrowland shaped like the robots from The Black Hole) is taken from some Disney product, there are some small touches that just kick major ass. Keep in mind, there are entire messageboards devoted to finding every single reference in the game, so we’re keeping it short here.
10) The Basketball Court
?The Matterhorn Bobsled Rides from Disneyland appear in the game as “Mickeyjunk Mountain,” a garbage dump where unused Mickey Mouse merchandise goes to rot. Every piece of junk that ever had the mouse’s ears slapped on it is there, including an Easter egg for Disney park historians: the basketball court. The true story is that at one time (no longer, however), Disney employees actually set up a basketball half-court in the top of the Matterhorn ride, where they could play during breaks without park guests knowing. You can find it in the Mickeyjunk Mountain level by the Mickey greeting card.
9) The Dog Collar
Hidden in Walt Disney World (formerly in Disneyland) itself is a ride/show called “Carousel of Progress.” It tells of all the advances made in technology from the viewpoint of an average American family which consists of a dad (voiced by A Christmas Story‘s Jean Shepherd), a mom, some kids, and a dog that changes breeds from setting to setting. It’s not one of Disney’s most popular attractions, but the ride gets acknowledged in Epic Mickey — you have to find the missing dog’s collar. Of course, the dog isn’t shown anywhere in the game, but the thought’s nice.
?The most persistent enemy in the game is the Splatters, blobs of goo that follow you around and take off hit points. They’re in nearly every level, but don’t always look the same. Why? Because they often wear costumes appropriate for their location! The Spatters in the Adventureland level dress like the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Spatters in Tomorrowland dress like the characters in Tron (and they light up if you hit them with paint), and the Spatters in the Haunted Mansion level wear the top hats and tuxedos of the real Haunted Mansion staff at the Disney Parks!
7) Hidden Cartoons
?With all the tributes to classic forgotten Disney films, it’s appropriate that the game include a few as Easter eggs. By collecting film canisters in the various 2-D levels, you can redeem them later in the game for prizes like extra health and collectible pins. But collect 20 and you can view the entire 1933 Mickey Mouse cartoon The Mad Doctor from the Extras menu. Collect 30 (pretty much only do-able by completing the game and re-starting) and you can see the rarely-glimpsed Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short Oh What a Knight.
6) Mary Blair Art
?Behind every Disney film are dozens of concept artists whipping up sketches and paintings of different ways characters and scenes could eventually turn out. One of the earliest and most recognizable was Mary Blair, whose eye-catching concepts led to the look and feel of “It’s a Small World” and numerous Disney films and theme park rides. During her life, she produced thousands of drawings and paintings, which now sell for thousands of dollars. Every cutscene (and there are a lot) in Epic Mickey follows her distinctive “paper cut-out” style. Nice tribute to a Disney legend!
5) “Partners” Statue
?At the entrance to Disneyland stands the famous “Partners” statue of Walt holding Mickey’s hand. It’s often ignored by families rushing past to get to the rides, but it’s a nice place of calm and a reminder of the man who started it all. It’s such a minor detail, but in Epic Mickey it becomes a focal point of the game — with Oswald the rabbit taking the place of Mickey. It just proves that nothing was overlooked when pulling inspiration for this game!
4) Walt’s Apartment
?When Disneyland opened, Walt kept a furnished apartment for himself in Town Square, above the fire station (the fire station doors were closed when someone was in the apartment, to keep kids from ringing the bell and annoying guests). The apartment is still used by Disney’s family and visiting guests, but don’t ask to see it on the tour. Since the park is fairly accurately represented in Epic Mickey, this seldom-seen room is a hidden bonus. After collecting power sparks from around all the worlds and buying a few from the Emporium, give them to the Gremlin who sets up the projection screens. 30 power sparks gets you access to the hidden room above the fire station, as well as original concept art for Mickey and Oswald, and 300 E-tickets.
3) “Tron” Pete
?Epic Mickey features very few boss battles, but the face off with the robotic Pegleg Pete in the Tomorrowland level is a treat. He’s dressed up as David Warner’s character Sark from Tron, complete with pointy helmet and neon circuitry. His main weapon (other than splashing you with paint thinner) is a Tron Identity Disc.
2) Mickey’s Gaming Past
?The aforementioned Mickeyjunk Mountain is a junkyard of significant Disneyana, including real antique Mickey telephones, gumball machines, and the re-release poster for Fantasia. And since the scale is huge, Mickey has to jump over all these to get to the end of the level (it is a platformer, after all). The part that made me laugh out loud was a stack of old, forgotten Mickey Mouse Nintendo cartridges from Capcom, including 1988’s Mickey Mousecapade and 1992’s Disney’s Magical Quest.
1) The Mention of Zelda
?Game developer Warren Spector is a self-admitted fan of The Legend of Zelda. So, as a special bonus for gamers, he threw in this special line from the first Zelda game. It’s in Tortooga, the pirate town, after you save Beluga Billy. He sells you as many watch sketches as you can carry because, well, it’s dangerous to go alone.
If you want to see more, check out Chris Antista’s “50 Disney References in Epic Mickey” article at GamesRadar, which provided a couple of the images above.