It turns out that no matter how divisive a videogame might be, success isn't beyond its grasp if it carries a recognizable character at its heart. Warren Spector's Wii-exclusive Epic Mickey has been given a rough ride since its launch, with more than a few reviewers citing technical issues that, in some cases, ruined their experience. Despite the mixed reception, the latest NPD figures show that Disney's mascot has had the last laugh, as the game has now sold more than 1.3 million copies in the United States alone.
With children and adults alike receiving a beautifully-wrapped Nintendo Wii over the holidays, it actually turned out to be a perfect release window for the world famous mouse. If the game had been launched at a different time in the year, who knows how sales may have turned out.
We're no psychics, but the fact that the controversy around the game seemed to reach its climax heading into the holiday shopping season could only have meant that interest would be up, and the numbers don't lie. Despite the hiccups or flaws in the game, it would be hard to pick up the system today without buying one of the few games that almost everyone has heard of.
When you consider just how much buzz can be generated by a game being talked about as a disappointment, it's no surprise that Spector felt the polarized opinions of the game were a good thing. Whether you loved the game or hated it, people speaking so passionately about their wishes for Mickey Mouse quickly turned the game into a title that everyone who owned a Wii had to try out, if only to see what all the complaining was about.
Now we must begin to wonder what this level of success could mean for the future of the franchise, since Spector has openly stated his desire to continue the story of Mickey beyond a single game. For those who believe that games should be given sequels, or further investment based on artistic merit over commercial success, this is a bit of a head-scratcher. Epic Mickey certainly gave a healthy dose of Disney-grade cinematics, but if the sales are what convinces the publishers to invest in more games, is that a moral victory?
And the cynics who felt the game failed in technical aspects have it just as bad. They're now tasked with reconciling a broken experience being given even more sequels by cashing in on a recognizable figure with a desire for better games. The game isn't for everybody, but the numbers show that there are still plenty of people who just want a chance to play as Mickey Mouse, and who can blame them?
From our interview with Junction Point, it's clear that the developers feel passionately about the property, and it's safe to say that nobody would like to make a second crack at the game a perfect one more than they would. With the sales numbers being so high with such mixed reviews, maybe the team will be given a bit more time and freedom to really expand on the more interesting concepts of the game.
If there's one lesson that can be taken away from Epic Mickey's success, it's that no matter how you may feel about a particular property, the sheer amount of gamers in the world today mean that even a somewhat-broken game can find a few hundred thousand people who enjoy it. You have to admit; that's a victory in itself.
You can add to the 1.3 million yourself, by picking up a copy of Epic Mickey today, exclusively for the Nintendo Wii.