Epic Mickey: Rebrushed is Coming in 2024!

Disney’s Epic Mickey: Rebrushed is coming in 2024 to the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4/5, Xbox, and Windows. This is a remake of the fan-favorite video game exclusively for the Wii, which was released over a decade ago. This post shares details, images & trailer, why I’m so excited to see this idea return from the dead, plus potential implications for Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Nintendo announced Epic Mickey: Rebrushed during the game company’s Direct Partner Showcase on February 21, and gave no release date beyond a vague ‘later in 2024’ timeframe. Not many details were given about Epic: Mickey Rebrushed, except that it’d be a “faithful remake of the beloved classic” with enhanced visuals. Epic Mickey: Rebrushed is from THQ Nordic together with Disney Games, and is powered by Unreal Engine.

In Epic Mickey, you play as Mickey Mouse after he gets himself into a little bit of trouble. Sneaking into Yen Sid’s workshop, he picks up a magic paintbrush and accidentally creates the Shadow Blot. In an attempt to erase it, Mickey is sucked into another world that’s full of rejected Disney characters.

The remake will feature new skills for Mickey Mouse, such as dash, ground pound and sprinting. Players will encounter various classic characters like Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Yen Sid, Pete, and more as you travel between lands in Wasteland, a realm of forgotten Disney characters. Collect virtual Disney pins, tackle creative challenges, and uncover secrets, all while exploring classic platforming levels inspired by animated films, cartoon shorts, and the Disney theme parks.

As Mickey, you will dive into a fantastical world, and armed with paint and thinner, shape your adventure and the fate of this alternate world. Use paint to restore beauty and harmony or thinner to alter your environment and uncover hidden secrets. Your choices influence Mickey’s destiny and change the outcome of this artistic odyssey.

Here’s the trailer, which is well worth watching–Mickey Mouse fans will see plenty of nods to the iconic character, and there’s plenty of park fans, too:

The original Epic Mickey was a significant release, as part of an initiative by Disney to rebrand and reintroduce Mickey Mouse to contemporary audiences. It was one of several efforts at the time to showcase the more mischievous and adventurous sides of his personality, and less as a superficial corporate mascot. The Mickey Mouse shorts that recently concluded their run were likewise part of this push.

So in a way, you could say that Epic Mickey walked painted so Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway could run drive recklessly. It may seem like a stretch, and I doubt Imagineering was using the concept art from Epic Mickey as inspiration, but it’s all an outgrowth of the same internal initiative.

What was most striking about Epic Mickey is just how different and dark it was. It was a dramatic departure from what Disney had been doing with Mickey Mouse–like the company ping-ponged from one extreme to another. Epic Mickey was directed by legendary game designer Warren Spector, who collaborated with Walt Disney Animation Studios on the project and produced the game via Junction Studios.

Epic Mickey was released in November 2010, receiving mixed reviews from critics, who praised its visuals, storytelling, and gameplay–but criticized its camera and controls. The game performed well enough to spawn sequels–Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two and Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion.

I was really excited for the first Epic Mickey. It was the rare game that I preordered, and even bought the collector’s edition that came with a Mickey Mouse figure and paintbrush controller. The game had a hype cycle and was the rare weighty video game release from Disney. For those who didn’t play it, Epic Mickey was unlike more recent releases that can be fun but are fairly mindless.

Epic Mickey was art. I know those of you who are dismissive of video games as a medium might scoff at that, but it really was. The design, themes, and story were all fantastic–they even released an ‘Art of Epic Mickey‘ coffee table book! It also was not what you’d necessarily expect of Disney.

The best thing I can equate it to is another Disney release around the same time: Wall-E. To be sure, Epic Mickey was no Wall-E. But it prompted a similar response: How did this get made by DISNEY, of all companies?! Epic Mickey felt like an aberration, the type of thing that slipped through the cracks and somehow got approved. The type of thing about which people say, “this could never get made today.” But I think they would’ve said that then, too–and it did get made then, and is being remade today.

Unfortunately, Epic Mickey was a bit of a disappointment to me. Not the substance or even the style; that met or even exceeded my expectations. It was the controls and camera, which were absolutely infuriating. Part of this is probably a ‘skills issue.’ Even though I love them, I’m not exactly good at video games, so things like poor controls and camera are killers for me. As much as I enjoyed the flashes of brilliance in the game, I just couldn’t play in more than 30 minute increments before getting frustrated. Basically, I loved the idea of Epic Mickey more than actually playing the game.

In any case, I am really looking forward to Epic Mickey: Rebrushed. Hopefully those camera and control issues are corrected, so that it’s fun to play. (The latter almost certainly will be, since it’s being ported from the Wii.) While I think it’s probably a niche title as a remake, I’m holding out a sliver of hope that this could go from ‘cult favorite’ to being a huge critical and commercial success if the issues are fixed. The storytelling and visuals in Epic Mickey are fantastic, as is some of the moment-to-moment gameplay. There was already plenty to like; with a few tweaks, there could be a lot to love.

The optimist in me hopes that, between this and the recent ‘concession’ by CEO Bob Iger (and $1.5 billion Fortnite stake) that Disney is missing opportunities in gaming, Epic Mickey: Rebrushed could be the start of something bigger.

Epic Mickey also came out around the time of Toy Story Mania, and any theme park fan who played the Wii game probably saw the obvious crossover appeal. Epic Mickey revolved around a paint and thinner concept, allowing players to create (or erase!) environments. It was a clever mechanic, and worked pretty well.

The paint concept was also something that could work in an attraction at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. And in fact, Epic Mickey did (seemingly) inspire a theme park attraction, as Goofy’s Paint ‘n’ Play House opened in Toontown at Tokyo Disneyland only a few years later. In that attraction, guests use Toontone Splat Master paint applicators to help Goofy redecorate his room. This is essentially a shooter attraction, as you point your Splat Master spray device at the wall or furniture you want to paint, and then activate.

Goofy’s Paint ‘n’ Play House is a cute attraction, but one aimed at younger children. It’s a walk-through of sorts, is unscored, and more collaborative in nature. The same concept could very easily be put on wheels as a Toy Story Mania style game where you compete or collaborate with other guests to both paint and thin environments.

If the resurrection of Epic Mickey proves to be a success, I could easily see this type of attraction being built. It’d offer synergy and crossover appeal with the video game, and the Disney Parks definitely need more of that. The gameplay is pitch-perfect for a theme park and would be easy to pick up for all guests. It’s also an addictive and fun concept with a ton of repeatability.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this type of gamified attraction would be perfect as a quick-fix addition in between development cycles. For those who don’t remember, that’s exactly what Toy Story Mania was upon opening.

That ride came at a time when Walt Disney World had been languishing post-9/11, and fans were starved for new additions. This is notable, because Disney is in the exact same position now–needing new additions, but not quite ready for the game-changing new lands and attractions. So it’s either reimaginings, or new rides that don’t require a ton of staging and can be built quickly in existing spaces.

For reference, Toy Story Mania was announced in early 2007 and opened just over a year later in 2008. At the time, it sure seemed like a stopgap solution–a mid-tier addition before the real expansion plans ramped up. But as it turned out, Toy Story Mania was a smash success. It became the most popular ride in all of Walt Disney World, and guests would rope drop the FastPass machines (remember free line-skipping via slips of paper?!).

I remember this because I was our designated “runner” back in 2008-2012, and I spent many a morning power-walking to those FastPass machines. (That 9:45 a.m. return time above was a great achievement, at least to me!) Toy Story Mania proved so popular at the domestic parks that it got a Wii game spin-off, another track at Walt Disney World to help with crowds (plus a land), and was cloned to Tokyo DisneySea.

Toy Story Mania remains incredibly popular to this day at DHS, DCA, and TDS. Given the massive popularity of such a simple concept, it actually astounds me that Disney hasn’t done a remake of its own, creating a second interactive attraction in this style. It makes complete sense, and just think how good it could be–look at the leap from Soarin’ to Avatar Flight of Passage. Same idea here.

Ultimately, I’m excited to play Epic Mickey: Rebrushed and hopeful that the camera and control issues that made a brilliant concept virtually unplayable are resolved with the remake. As excited as I am for that, I’m even more (foolishly) optimistic that this will spawn another synergistic gamified attraction at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Hopefully Epic Mickey: Rebrushed will be an opportunity for Imagineering to dip back into the inkwell of the interactive shooter.

I’m also really happy to see another move (all in less than a month!) that addresses our criticisms in Disney’s Biggest Weakness: Why Mickey Mouse Should Be More Like Mario. That was an article advocating for Disney to get more serious about gaming and use Mickey Mouse in furtherance of that, since time spent with video games and mindshare is a really big deal for younger kids.

Between Iger’s recent comments and his moves, it’s almost like he reads the blog. Of course, I don’t actually think that’s true…it’s probably just lucky/coincidental timing. But just in case, please look forward to a dozen articles coming soon about how the only thing that can save Disney’s share price and fight off corporate raiders is a reimagining of Journey into Imagination! I also think we can all agree that a big-budget redo of Journey into Imagination would cement Iger’s legacy as a very cool dude and great CEO.

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Your Thoughts

What do you think of Epic Mickey: Rebrushed? If you played the original, are you excited for the remake? Think the success of this Nintendo Switch title could spawn another gamified attraction at Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Is the company investing resources into video games a smart move? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!

11 Responses to “Epic Mickey: Rebrushed is Coming in 2024!”
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