The Epic Mickey franchise is spinning off to the Nintendo 3DS, with Monster Tale studio DreamRift looking to put its unique mark on one of Disney's most famous characters.
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion isn't just aimed at kids, however -- the game is a follow-up to the original Sega Genesis title Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse from 1990, and DreamRift's co-founder Peter Ong is hoping to snare some older fans of the classic to this new entry.
"Working within the shadow of greatness that was the original game can be daunting to think about," he admits, "but at the same time the opportunity to share our love and admiration for that game fills us with excitement."
Doing the original justice is always on the team's mind, says Ong, and he hopes that playing Power of Illusion will bring back childhood memories for the slightly older generation.
The 3DS game came together quite by coincidence, Ong tells us, as DreamRift was finishing up work on Nintendo DS platformer Monster Tale. Ong and technical director Ryan Pijai began discussing the idea of creating items on the bottom screen of the Nintendo 3DS, and then injecting them into a world on the top screen.
With the concept in place, DreamRift began pitching the idea to various publishers including Disney Interactive Studios. When Disney heard about the idea, it revealed that it had been considering bringing the Epic Mickey series to Nintendo 3DS, and that DreamRift's concept would fit perfectly into Mickey's world, given that the console versions see Mickey painting objects into reality.
"They immediately told us a couple of things," says Ong. "The first was that the quality of the game was one of their top priorities, and the second was that they knew they wanted it to be a unique standalone experience, rather than just a port of the console version of the game."
He continues, "At that point, everything moved very quickly. I met early on with industry legend Warren Spector to discuss working together and things went really well - so much so that we arrived at an agreement quickly, and the rest has been history."
At a time when 3DS developers are still getting to grips with the various functionality of the handheld and the possibilities of what can be done with it, it's exciting to see DreamRift taking to the stage. The studio has worked tirelessly in the past to leverage the Nintendo DS's unique features in its games Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure and Monster Tale, suggesting we can expect innovation from Epic Mickey 3DS.
Users will be able to 'paint' objects onto the bottom screen, which will then appear in the game's world on the top screen and become part of the gameplay. The game is also set to feature 2D visuals and a 2D camera, paradoxically combined with the stereoscopic 3D capabilities of the console.
"There are countless polygonal 3D games out there on the Nintendo 3DS, which are the norm," says Ong. "I think that a lot of people just accept and expect those games to be portrayed in stereoscopic 3D since it's very close to the essence of what's been portrayed on the screen, namely that sort of polygonal 3D immersion."
"However, when you have a game that has traditional 2D visuals that are much less literal and more interpretive/artistic, combined with stereoscopic 3D, it's something strikingly different. It's something that people don't expect to pop out at you in stereoscopic 3D. You never really see that kind of thing in the real world, so it becomes a really remarkable visual mechanism."
As for the game's classic Disney content, Ong reveals that the Castle of Illusion is now situated within Wasteland, a place where forgotten Disney characters go (first established in Junction Point's Epic Mickey). Power of Illusion will celebrate both well-known and less-known Disney characters, and aims to excite both Disney buffs and casual fans.
"Being huge fans ourselves of Castle of Illusion, we hope that everyone who plays our 3DS game will find some measure of what made us love the original game so much," he notes.