Mickey Mouse is to get a makeover to heighten his appeal to youngsters of the video-game generation nurtured on computer-generated graphics and interactivity.
For decades, the Walt Disney Company has kept Mickey Mouse’s appearance and character largely unchanged, afraid that even the smallest alteration might damage a brand that earns the company $5 billion a year in merchandising sales.
But as US sales of Mickey merchandise are declining, the squeaky clean rodent is to be “re-imaged” and will acquire a cunning and cantankerous streak when he appears in a new Disney video game, Epic Mickey, next year…
Epic Mickey, designed for the Nintendo Wii console, is set in a cartoon wasteland inhabited by forgotten and retired Disney creations. Players can choose to be a co-operative, helpful Mickey or they can opt for a more destructive version who starts to resemble a rat.
Warren Spector, creative director of Junction Point, a Disney-owned game developer working on Epic Mickey, said the game would be edgy and unexpected. “By putting the mischievous Mickey in an unfamiliar place and asking him to make choices – to help other cartoon characters or choose his own path – the game forces players to deal with the consequences of their actions. Ultimately, players must ask themselves, ‘What kind of hero am I?’ Each player will come up with a different answer.”
Mickey Mouse gets to be a lot more like Walt Disney. Opportunistic, egregious and greedy.