Today is Mickey Mouse’s birthday, and, in fact, this is the mouse’s last birthday before he enters the public domain in the United States, marking 95 years since he first appeared in 1928’s Steamboat Willie. Still, this is only one iteration of the character, and most of his later work remains under Disney’s copyright, including 2010’s Epic Mickey for the Nintendo Wii. Interestingly, that game focused heavily on characters claimed to be forgotten by society, similar to much of the media that gets lost before entering the public domain almost 100 years after the fact — most notably, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey’s predecessor, who just entered the public domain himself at the beginning of this year.
I, for one, absolutely adored Epic Mickey. Its setting of forgotten characters was interesting, Oswald was sassy and fun, it played like a somewhat easier version of Super Mario Sunshine, and it was a Mickey game that actually seemed to ooze coolness! Of the Wasteland characters, aside from Pete, I’d only recognised Clarabelle Cow from Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers — one of my favourite childhood films and a big reason why I was excited to play Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, where it was featured as one of the worlds — and Horace Horsecollar from his appearance in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep earlier in 2010. In that way, I really felt for all of the characters that had been forgotten in the game, since I didn’t even know them! I also loved the somewhat darker styling of the game, the inky spilling and rising off of Mickey’s body, and even the focus on moral choices. Admittedly, that last one might’ve been because I’d really wanted to play inFamous but was too young and too “lacking a PS3” to play that title, and I liked having the chance to experience something with that system in place.
With that in mind, I was extremely happy to hear it was getting a sequel with Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, and would’ve been even happier to hear of a third major title being announced! After all, the series was even getting a 3DS game; it could only get bigger from here. Sadly, it was then that Disney closed the developer, Junction Point Studios, down and cancelled any plans to make any further Epic Mickey games. Needless to say, I was quite upset. Personally, I would absolutely adore a chance to explore that setting or storyline again in the future, but Disney doesn’t seem very interested, and the moment when this will enter the public domain is a long way off.
However, is getting another entry in the Epic Mickey series the only way to bring this Wii classic back? Well, there’s always porting it to modern consoles, like many titles, but what about an appearance in Kingdom Hearts? The lighthearted-yet-gloomy-and-darkness-heavy tone and aesthetic would play quite well with that franchise. Plus, its storyline of characters being dropped into a Wasteland of forgotten characters would work thematically with the series’ common usage of “falling into darkness” and “losing one’s memories” plotlines. I admit, I don’t know what direction Kingdom Hearts is taking at the moment, but if there’s even another title in the same vein as Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days, or Dream Drop Distance, I think an Epic Mickey world would fit in nicely. Plus, it would be a fantastic excuse to feature Oswald the Lucky Rabbit again before anyone else decides to use him.