The Many Choices of an Epic MickeyBy Jared Newman
Moral dilemmas in video games are typically the stuff for mature audiences, but Epic Mickey isn’t shying away despite its lovable protagonist and cartoon aesthetic. The game, as demonstrated at E3, regularly confronts the player with a choice between naughty or nice, always with consequences. It’s not what you would expect from a game that could easily sell a million copies on name recognition alone, but it’s earning Epic Mickey respect, and accolades as one of the best games at the show.
Here’s a list of choices the player must make in Epic Mickey’s E3 demo:
Choice 1: In the game’s first segment, the player must retrieve three items, each held by a different character. The first character is Tiki Sam, who runs a small shop in the village. In exchange for the item, Sam wants three Tiki masks that are scattered around the area. The obvious and honest choice is to retrieve all three masks, but a more mischievous mouse could go about it this way: Grab one mask and give it to Sam, then use paint thinner — one of Mickey’s weapons, which can erode parts of the environment — to create a back door into Sam’s store. Retrieve the mask and give it to Sam again. He’ll be none the wiser, and you’ve got a third less work to do.
Choice 2: You can perform the mask swap a third time, but Tiki Sam will figure out the scheme. You’ll still get the item you need, but he’ll charge a premium for everything else in the store.
Choice 3: A pirated named Damien Salt has a crush on Henrietta the cow — that’s better left unexplained — and wants to give her a birthday gift. He suspects she likes ice cream, but if you chat up Henrietta a couple of times, she’ll reveal a love for flowers, and a little-known fact that she’s lactose intolerant — also better left unexplained. You can now purchase flowers or ice cream for Damien, and there’s nothing stopping you from getting the wrong gift. But if you do, it’ll cost a hefty amount of currency to buy the item you need. Get the flowers, and Damien will become infatuated and remain by Henrietta’s side, leaving the item unguarded for you to take.
Choice 4: Travelling from one world to the next entails a bit of 2D platforming. There’s usually a direct and easy path, but more adventurous players will seek out alternate routes that yield more e-tickets (the game’s currency). It’s not exactly a moral choice, but a good option for people who paid dearly for their interactions with everyone in town.
Choice 5: With items in hand, you’re now able to free Smee’s boat from the bottom of a lagoon in another area by eliminating three massive anchors. However, an evil captain is busy turning pirates into robots in this area. The choice to rectify this situation is yours; you just have to find three pumps that operate the captain’s conversion machine.
Choice 6: The machines can be filled with paint or paint thinner. The former option will reverse the machines, turning robots back into pirates. The latter breaks the machine, but dooms the converted to their mechanical fate. The consequences of either decision weren’t clear in the E3 demo.
My concern is that all the consequences of Epic Mickey’s choices in the demo relate to in-game currency. I’d like to see a wider range of results based on how the player behaves, though I’m optimistic given that Disney representatives promised major changes to Epic Mickey’s outcome based on how you play. Can little kids who play the game handle that kind of pressure? Not my concern.