By Darren Franich
June 16, 2010 at 09:00 PM EDT

Image Credit: DisneyWe can all agree that Donald Duck is infinitely cooler than Mickey Mouse. Sure, Mickey’s the face of Disney, but his personality is just so bland. That’s purposeful, too: after the 1934 debut of tantrum-throwing Donald, Mickey’s rascal persona was softened, and he became the perpetually dull straight man. He’s like Cyclops to Donald’s Wolverine, the boring (but necessary) leader figure vs. the adorably scruffy renegade. Well, all of that is about to change. At Nintendo’s E3 presentation, onlookers got to see some tantalizing new footage of the upcoming Wii game, Epic Mickey. No matter how the game turns out, this is arguably the most interesting thing Mickey Mouse has done since FDR’s third term.

The game takes the character back to his roots  — he’s wearing his old red shorts — but it also resettles him into a vaguely dystopian world. You explore vaguely recognizable environments from Disney’s animated history, populated by familiar Disney characters, but everything looks a little bit broken-down. (The game’s designer, Warren Spector, refers to the world as “The Wasteland,” which proves definitively that it only takes eighty years for a cartoon mouse to turn into T.S. Eliot.) Check out the video from the press conference after the jump:

This isn’t exactly new territory. Kingdom Hearts had a similar bizarro-cocktail of Disney history, RPG storylines, and action-adventure gameplay. (And Kingdom Hearts was awesome. Seriously, I cried.) Plus, the whole kid-friendly dystopia thing seems to be a Disney-wide trend: witness the bleakness of Tim Burton’s Alice in Underland Wonderland.

Even so, does anyone else think that this game LOOKS TOTALLY BANANAS?!?!?! You’ve got a paintbrush that can erase not just people but the entire world, and you keep running into various misfit characters from throughout Disney history. So it’s Neverending Story meets Return to Oz, two terrifying tastes that might just go great together.

What do you think of this extended look at Epic Mickey, PopWatchers? Are you as floored as I am by the astounding side-scrolling re-enactment of Steamboat Willie? Can this game make up for all the generations of children who have suffered from nightmares due to Mickey’s helium-pumped laugh? And can anyone help me finish off my Seinfeld/Disney theory? Mickey is Jerry, Donald is George, and Goofy is definitely Kramer, but I can’t figure out who would be Elaine. Maybe Pluto?