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Epic Mickey seeks to morph mouse into game hero

Disney launches the first Wii game for the iconic character. The company hopes to use the title to raise Mickey Mouse to the level of Mario in the gaming world.

The Epic Mickey logo.
The Epic Mickey logo.
Disney Interactive Studios

Starting today, consumers can get their hands on Epic Mickey, a title exclusive to the Wii.

The game, which retails for $49.99, puts players in the role of the iconic mouse as he uses paint (and paint thinner) to change the world around him. As gamers play the title, their decisions affect how the game unfolds. Disney said in a statement that there are several "possibilities and storylines" for players to follow, but they will face "consequences for their chosen actions."

Ultimately, gamers must turn Mickey Mouse into a hero.

But the concept of transforming Mickey Mouse into a hero extends far beyond the confines of the game.

In an interview last year with CNET, Epic Mickey creator Warren Spector explained that the ultimate goal for Disney is to bring Mickey Mouse into the same company as gaming icons, like Mario, Link, and Sonic the Hedgehog.

According to Spector, Disney told him that it wanted "someone to bring Mickey to a gaming audience in a whole new way and make him a hero for the 21st century."

Spector acknowledged that Mickey Mouse "appealed to everybody" starting in 1928 and stretching into the 1930s. But now he isn't the iconic hero he once was and that, at least in Spector's mind, he should be.

"There are these characters, like Mario and Link (from the Zelda games) and Sonic, and I don't know if it's true, but you've got to believe that those characters--who are three heads tall and cute and iconic--at some level were inspired by Mickey Mouse," Spector told CNET in the interview. "So why shouldn't Mickey be at the top of the gaming heap?"

Of course, it's important to note that gaming heroes aren't created overnight. And it takes several years and several top titles to cultivate a cult-like following for some characters. But Disney has high hopes for Epic Mickey and its rodent hero. And Spector doesn't seem to be satisfied with anything short of ultimate success.

"Mickey deserves to be at the top of the game hero pyramid," Spector said.