Dear Mickey (or Mr. Mouse, whichever you prefer),
I wanted to take a moment to congratulate you on the upcoming Epic Mickey. As the most prevalent icon of American culture since the 1930's, it's high time you deserved a starring role in a highly anticipated video game for today's console with the Nintendo Wii. Sure, I would prefer that this game contained more shooting with cool guns and/or Master Chief, I'm happy that the gaming industry has finally recognized your coveted spot as a world leader and purveyor of fine entertainment, overpriced amusement parks, toys and clothing.
However, this new game raises some of my concerns about your ability to perform in the spotlight of a 21st Century video game. We gamers are now used to taking on strong main characters with a fatal flaw and playing out a storyline that reflects our anxieties about today's society and the impending zombie apocalypse (and how we like to shoot aliens and stuff).
Mickey, are you truly as epic as your game promises to be?
Let's be honest: you're mister nice guy. In the world of Highlights magazine where humanity (or mice-anity?) can be divided between good and bad, you'd be Gallant. You'd help the old lady across the street, eat all the food off of your plate and make sure everyone recycles their soda cans. You're like Mario and Link, whose goody-two-shoes behavior are excuseable because they're classics. They always save the princess, and this time, so will you--except this time, the princess is a long lost brother named Oswald.
But these days, we like to play as Goofus does--okay, maybe not like a total jerk, but we want our heros to have that imperfect side that makes them feel a little more human. Nathan Drake from Uncharted 2 is arrogant, greedy and cocky, which we totally love because it keeps his search for Shambala fun and interesting. God of War's Kratos has serious anger management issue, even if it stems from his anguish over slaughtering his family. Both Marston from Red Dead Redemption and Fenix from Gears of War are ex-convicts. Let's not even get into Samus' issues from Metroid--plus, she's a woman. Isn't that a flaw enough? (I kid, I kid.) We even like to create our own personalities with sandbox games like Fallout 3, Mass Effect and Fable, where developers give us the opportunity to play as we wish. Mickey, what sort of character twist will you offer us?
You have to find the core of the character, what makes Mickey relevant after 82 years, when no other characters are, and no other movies are. And the list is pretty short and pretty straightforward: he’s smart, he’s loyal, he is a friend to all, he’s persistent, he never gives up, he is overly enthusiastic, doesn’t always think things through, gets himself in mischief and has to get himself out of trouble.
In other words, Spector believes that "...you’ve got a little guy who can take on Mario and Sonic, Link, Master Chief."
Whoa, whoa whoa. I can believe you can beat the crap out of Mario, Sonic and Link, since they seem like the type of guys who'd let you win if it was the right thing to do, but you and Master Chief? I want to see you take on any Spartan armed with a fully loaded assault rifle while you only have a brush and a can of paint thinner. Wait, please don't. I was just kidding.
Sure, I have yet to find Master Chief's fatal flaw--maybe he's just that perfect (swoon)--but he has that unmistakable air of mystery. In all of the years of playing Halo, we have yet to see his actual face. The only mystery I can think of about you, Mickey, is why you still wear those red shorts. Also, pants but no shirt and shoes with no socks? Are you really trying not to get into the local country club?
Here's a thought: maybe you could be more like the Mickey in Runaway Brain. You could be a deranged version of yourself, overcome with the evil brain of a monster intent on stealing Minnie for...something...Wait, Mickey! Hold up. Don't get all mad.
We're not trying to insult you. We're totally on your side! Take this letter as something to think about after the release of Epic Mickey. We want you to be prepared for what people have accepted as the norm from all the games today: we want to pretend to be that buff, fearless hero who we could never be in real life. And don't forget what's become a standard today: numerous sequels, DLC, multiplayer features. When are you going to include your friends? Don't expect Donald Duck and Goofy to sit around while you soak up the limelight.
We know you can't really offer all of that on the Wii, but maybe next time, we should try to expand the Mickey universe to gamers on all consoles--even ones that don't exist yet. Hey, maybe we can even paint with you on the PlayStation Move? Oh my god, we can do a collaboration with Dance Central where we synchronize dance with you and your friends to classic Disney songs, like A Whole New World. Magic carpet ride, here we come!!!!
Hey, maybe you're right. Maybe we don't need the guns, excessive violence and a tortured soul to have a solidly good video game. Maybe Epic Mickey offers what's missing in the industry: a creative twist to storytelling that combines both your history as a character who broke ground in the animation and an immortable figure in American pop culture. Just as Walt Disney did with you, Epic Mickey allows us to drawing, paint and erase our own classic adventure in your quest to save the Wasteland.
Dammit, Mickey. There you go again, proving me wrong. *sigh* Why are you so smart?