Home Gaming How Epic Mickey 2 is kind of like Deus Ex, according to Warren Spector

How Epic Mickey 2 is kind of like Deus Ex, according to Warren Spector

4 min read

Ha ha! I never asked for this! Ha ha!

You wouldn’t expect an espionage agent and an iconic animated mouse to have much in common, but you’d be wrong. Besides the fact that Warren Spector has worked on both of them, the link is more evident here, as Spector recently explained how Epic Mickey: The Power of Two shares quite a few similarities with the older property.

Speaking to Kotaku, Spector said that players should expect a game that plays with the same ideas as his 2000 classic, albeit it with less of a leathery fashion sense. "Gamers have to accept that they’re not wearing sunglasses at night, they’re not wearing a trenchcoat in the middle of summer, they’re not carrying a big gun. They’re playing as a mouse."

When Spector mentioned that Epic Mickey 2 wasn’t exactly as open world as it seemed, with the action taking place in hub-zones rather, the similarity to Deus Ex brought out the following comment from him. "Here’s the thing," Spector said. "Everybody asks me, ‘When are you gonna make another game like Deus Ex?’ And [With Epic Mickey 2], I am! From a structural standpoint, from an underlying design philosophy standpoint, the directives I give the design team, it’s the same."


I think it’s a perfectly natural thing to say. When we think about games, it makes perfect sense that what we think about is actions. What you do. Games are about verbs, right? It’s about what you do.

And so I think when players [play Deus Ex] they think, "I am shooting a gun. Kids don’t shoot guns. I am in the real world. That is an adult situation." They look at the content, and confuse content and action.

But the reality is, what makes a game mature is not, "I got a gun, I curse, that woman is naked…" that’s adolescent, it’s not "mature." It’s the opposite of mature. I find it so ironic that we get that so completely backwards. We give mature ratings to the most immature games. In Disney Epic Mickey, it was about how important family and friends are to you. And [Epic Mickey 2] is about, "Do you believe that there is evil so profound in the world that it’s beyond redemption?" In this game, you have to decide who to trust. That’s maturity!

I think the real reason is that they think about the kinds of choices they’re being asked to make: Do I kill that thing or not? Do I fight or sneak? And in this game, the tone is completely different, the choices you’re making are completely different, the consequences are completely different. The kinds of game genres we’re mashing up… that’s what I do, I’m not a blank-screen kind of designer. I’ll leave that to Will Wright and other people who I admire and wish I was more like. But Deus Ex was literally, if you boil it down to first principles, it was literally ‘Let’s take a shooter, and a stealth game, and a role-playing game and mash ’em all up and see what happens.’

And those are typically thought of as adult genres. And in the first Disney Epic Mickey and in this one, all we’re doing is taking Mario, and Zelda, and pick your favourite role-playing game, and mash ’em all up and see what happens. Because I think that could be kind of interesting. You know?

I think that we took genres that are more typically associated with kids, mashed ’em up, put ’em together, but the end result is that the gameplay is as deep, the choice and consequence, especially in the second game, are as deep as anything I’ve ever worked on.

Epic Mickey is shaping up nicely so far, polishing up on the flaws that gave it a few hang-ups when the first game was released, and focusing on being multiplatform as well. We’ll just have to wait and see though, just how much of a link there is between the two properties, because unless Mickey decides to inject some nano-bots into his blood and use a sniper rifle to take out his enemies, I’m having a hard time linking the two.

Last Updated: September 5, 2012

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