Epic Mickey for 3DS is Tribute to Old Sega Games

If you're standing in line for the Black Friday sales this week, chances are probably good there could be a Nintendo 3DS on your list or, at the very least, some 3DS game titles to pick up for under the tree.

If so, you're in luck. One of the most anticipated 3DS titles this holiday season was released this week. Disney's "Epic Mickey" franchise, created by legendary video game creator Warren Spector, now is available for Nintendo's platform for the first time, and the game was brought to life by Orlando-based independent video game developer DreamRift.

"Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion" is a new side-scrolling 3DS game that sends Mickey and his magical paintbrush off on new adventures. The game was released on Sunday, the same day the second console version of the "Epic Mickey" game series was released. That game, "Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two," features a host of changes to the first release of the game in 2010.

Though the "Power of Illusion" 3DS game has characters and game-play motifs familiar to ones found in "Power of Two,' the Nintendo 3DS title offers its own unique environment and gaming goals. Most importantly, though, the game is practically a loving homage to Sega's "Illusion" series of platforming games of the 1990s -- and especially "Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse."

Working with Spector's Junction Point Studios, Dreamrift has created a game with a unique visual style and game play wholly separate from the console versions of the game.

Veteran game developer Peter Ong, the co-founder and creative director of DreamRift, has worked with bringing to life well-known games ranging from "Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure" to the award-winning "Monster Tale" and others. He said his work on "Power of Illusion," though, was especially inspiring to him, given his love of the Sega games of yesterday.

Recently, Ong answered a series of questions about the new "Epic Mickey" 3DS title.

Q. "Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion" has been called a tribute to Sega's "Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse." How important was the Sega title to the evolution of video-gaming?

Ong: "The original game came out in 1990 for the Sega Genesis videogame system, and it was quite a milestone for many reasons.

"It gave Sega an amazing character-driven experience within the 'platforming-game' genre at a crucial time for the Genesis, before 'Sonic the Hedgehog' even existed. The game set new standards in quality of musical composition, and the controls with which the player guided Mickey through his quest were unprecedented in their responsiveness.

"Furthermore, it served as stunning proof that games based on existing properties could be phenomenal, defining new benchmarks for animation and color usage and truly capturing the artistry that Disney is known for."

Q. Do you remember playing Sega's "Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse" for the first time? What did you think about it back in the day and how did it influence you in what you're doing today?

Ong: "I vividly remember the first time I played the game, as it was one of the most exciting experiences of my childhood.

"I was just absolutely floored by what I experienced -- everything about the way the game looked, played, sounded and more!

"At that point in time, I was a big Disney fan, especially the films, but not particularly of Mickey Mouse himself. That changed when I played 'Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse.' The original game made Mickey Mouse 'cool' to a new generation of young players, including myself, and I never looked at him the same way again.

"Twenty-two years later today, the appreciation that I have for that game hasn't changed. My admiration for 'Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse' was a key element in inspiring me to eventually become a professional videogame designer.

"Throughout that career of over 12 years, I've always gone back to the game for research, no matter what game I'm making. It's just an amazing example to draw inspiration from as a reference point for what a great game is."

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