One of the most hotly anticipated games of this holiday season has to be Disney Epic Mickey. Mickey Mouse is being reinvigorated with this brand-new title heading exclusively to Wii next Tuesday– November 30! We managed to snag an interview with Chase Jones, the lead designer on the game. He discusses working at Junction Point Studios, Nintendo’s involvement with the game, hidden surprises and more. Be sure to check it out.
Nintendojo: What is it like working at Junction Point Studios? How do you think it compares with working at other developers?
Chase Jones: Working at Junction Point has been an enjoyable and interesting experience. I was told when I started here that this project was going to push the limits and challenge anyone, especially in design, to do more than they have done before. And they weren’t kidding. But that is one of the main the reasons it has been enjoyable. I come to work each day and am challenged. In my eyes, that is the way it should be in any creative environment.
As far as how that compares to other developers I would have to say that each project and studio is unique unto itself. I don’t think it is fair to compare the experiences since each development environment depends on the time, the team make-up and the situations that occur on that title. No two titles are ever alike.
ND: Moving on to Disney Epic Mickey, Nintendo seems to be very supportive of the game, showcasing the title at its E3 press conference. In what other ways has Junction Point Studios worked with Nintendo, especially in regard to development?
Chase: Nintendo has been tremendously supportive of the title. They have come to the studio to see the game in development, offered continuous feedback and helped us showcase the game in the light it deserved.
ND: Any chance of a few Pixar characters popping up in the game? Or even better, any possibility of famous Nintendo characters paying Mickey a visit in Disney Epic Mickey?
Chase: There are a host of interesting characters in the game that pop up depending on how you play. I don’t want to give anything away, so you will have to play the game to find out who you will meet in your adventure.
ND: A lot of people are excited about the different cartoon worlds and universes Mickey will explore. How does the music change as the mouse visits new areas? Will the soundtrack contain songs from those movies, or is the score entirely new? Who is composing the game?
Chase: Jim Dooley composed a unique and wonderful soundtrack for the game. You can hear the various inspirations in every piece and it is very much Disney in the sound, but we also wanted to do something new for the game that would work with the atmosphere and the choices players make.
Each area does have its own soundtrack and it will differ depending on what type of hero you are in the game. The music fluctuates and shifts as your actions become more heroic or more mischievous. It’s a really neat system and it is amazing how well the music was composed to support this system. It’s almost like you have your own soundtrack for your particular game of Disney Epic Mickey each time you play it.
Editor: Bonus Side Mission! See our exclusive interview with Jim Dooley.
ND: When the game was first shown in the pages of Game informer there was some backlash from the graphics which many people felt were sub-par. Did the graphical style of the game become a bigger focus after the first showing?
Chase: The graphics have always been a focus. With Game Informer we were just at an early stage. Every game evolves and we were still in that evolutionary period when the article came out.
ND: With a game as Epic in scope as Disney Epic Mickey, about how long can we expect an average playthrough of the game to take?
Chase: Depending on how you play the game you will get drastically different game times. On average though, probably about 12 to 15 hours.
ND: One of the lasting traditions in both Disney Attraction and movies is to slip in “Hidden Mickeys.” Can we expect to find “Hidden Oswalds” in the game?
Chase: We have tried to stay true to a number of the Disney traditions and this is another one that is in the game. So, yes they are there. We cannot wait to see if people can find them.
ND: In your opinion, how does Disney Epic Mickey potentially redefine the Wii library of games?
Chase: Disney Epic Mickey will redefine games on many levels. It is unique in how the player can play with the world, in its story, its sense of adventure and the beauty of each of its worlds. Beyond that, the game is what you make it. Every experience is going to be different and every player can change it to their style of play.
ND: One of the touted features of the game was the ability to change Mickey through gameplay. While this still remains to an extent with the “Playstyle Matters” approach to the game are there any other role-playing elements incorporated into the game?
Chase: There is a basic questing system and some upgrades through the game. These play more like a RPG lite system that allows the player to add to their inventory and increase their health. The choices in the game will also change how much paint and thinner the player will have. These aspects, once chosen, cannot be altered. All of these changes alter the way you play the game and how Mickey can get through challenges and obstacles.
ND: The game uses the IR pointer expertly. Are there any other motion controls incorporated into the game?
Chase: With all of the genres that we blended to make this game I think we came out the other side with the right amount of motion control for the game. My favorite though is using the Wii Remote and Nunchuck to command the guardians. Simple flicks and combos are used to strategically guide them in combat but you can also hold the Wii Remote up and they will act as a guiding light if you get lost. It’s really cool.
ND: Do you think gamers will have a hard time relating to Mickey Mouse as a main character? What design changes did you make to Mickey to help him resonate more with Wii players?
Chase: I don’t think anyone is going to have a rough time seeing Mickey as the hero. It is what he always has been. I think the hardest thing we had to do was to decouple the preconceived notions about Mickey that people carry around with them and remind them that he is a hero and has been a hero in all forms. That he has been the mischievous mouse just as much as he has been the shining knight, but in the end he is still the hero. That was the challenge, but in the end, I think that all players can relate to Mickey. He is Mickey Mouse after all.
ND: If the game sells well enough, is Junction Point Studios planning on turning the Disney Epic Mickey game into a franchise?
Chase: Mickey deserves to be a big name in games. What his future is with Junction Point I cannot say at the moment. I think as we are just coming off of making this game that we need to enjoy this and see what happens, but it would be wonderful to continue the adventures that were started in Disney Epic Mickey.
ND: What was your favorite thing about working on Disney Epic Mickey?
Chase: It is hard to point out one thing specifically. This game has had so many rewarding moments during its creation and the team has been fantastic. I guess when it comes down to it my favorite thing about working on Disney Epic Mickey was being part of something so inspired and amazing.
We’d like to thank Chase for taking time out of his busy schedule with the impending release of the game to do this interview. Be sure to check out the game after it’s released, it looks to be quite epic.