Warren Spector says the “mean Mickey” planned for the upcoming Epic Mickey has been dropped because focus groups reacted negatively to the idea during preview tests of the game.

When the first details of Junction Point Studios’ game Epic Mickey came to light in October of last year, a lot of gamers sat up and took notice. Spector’s take on the character and the world in which he lived was dark, disturbing and a far cry from the kid-friendly mascot that leaps to mind when most of us think about Disney. But the promise of a new and legitimately interesting take on Disney’s most famous character seemed to fade a bit when the first published gameplay screens didn’t quite live up to the twisted, steampunk promise of the early concept art.

And now, another blow: Spector has revealed that the so-called “mean Mickey,” which would have transformed the character into something akin to a “snarling rat” during moments of bad behavior, has been cut from the game. Instead, the mouse will be accompanied by “levitating little guardians” that will glow different colors depending on how the player uses paint and thinner to move through the game.”We’re not going to change Mickey’s image so much,” Spector said.

“People don’t like it when you mess with Mickey,” he continued. “We did a focus test that was really eye-opening for me. There was a biker dude saying, ‘Oh, I’d never play a Mickey Mouse game,’ and then we showed him images of a changed Mickey. I was sitting there thinking, ‘You’re gonna love what we do,’ but he said, ‘No! Don’t mess with my childhood’.”

Ah, focus groups. Is there anything they can’t screw up? Epic Mickey is slated for release during the 2010 holiday season, exclusively for the Nintendo Wii.

Source: Mainichi Daily News, via Joystiq

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