Have you ever heard an idea that you knew just couldn’t fail? Something so spectacular and creative, and yet so blatantly obvious, that there would be no way it could possibly end up as anything other than an absolute triumph? Back in 2009, I was sure that Disney and Junction Point Studios had come up with a flawless formula as that was the year the world got its first substantial look at Disney Epic Mickey.
It was everything somebody like me could want at the time: a Wii exclusive from a third-party developer lead by an accomplished game producer that would offer us a new look at the classic cartoon character. Heading toward its 2010 debut, all signs pointed to this being, perhaps, one of the biggest new franchises in the industry. I pre-ordered the collector’s edition, fully expecting some sort of religious experience from the game.
Instead, what I got was a lesson in hype and how easy it is to set oneself up for eventual disappointment. I tore into Epic Mickey like a doctor had just given me a week to live, but by the time I reached Lonesome Manor, I had to put the controller down. The idea that I’d fall madly in love with this game gradually thinned away like many of the walls of the Wasteland. I was bewildered by the lot of it. After a year of buzz and excitation for a Mickey Mouse game that wasn’t aimed at the Elementary School crowd, I sat there staring at my television asking how could this have gone so wrong.
Ten years later, I’m still asking that question. How could the surefire idea of “Mickey Mouse in a world of forgotten Disney characters” result in two different studios ceasing to make video games? I wanted to find out what killed this franchise, and to do so, I dove back into the thinner-soaked Wasteland to see exactly what went wrong.