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New Mickey Mouse Horror Game Has The Internet Freaking Out

The earliest animated appearances of Mickey Mouse and his gal pal Minnie — the versions seen in the classic 1928 short "Steamboat Willie" — are now officially in the public domain. As of right now, creatives can use these versions of the classic characters in their own works without fear of legal action from The Walt Disney Company. In much the same vein as last year's sleeper hit "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey," which turned Pooh Bear and Piglet into slasher villains, an indie game developer is already cooking up something terrifying with Disney's mascot

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That game is "Infestation 88," a co-op title from Nightmare Forge Games that sees players being sent into dark corridors in remote locations to exterminate the creatures that have run amok there. A brief teaser trailer was uploaded to the internet yesterday, quickly going viral as gamers discovered they wouldn't have to wait long for the first stab at a Mickey Mouse horror game. The teaser depicts a rat and mouse infestation that has gotten out of hand, with some of them growing to enormous size. Mysterious gooey growths have appeared on the walls at this old factory, which also acts as the home to a familiar black-and-white creature. One of the mice in the factory has grown to human size and adopted the clothing of the "Steamboat Willie" iteration of Mickey Mouse. He seems to have very little in common with the beloved animated character beyond its basic appearance, however: Once one of the players douses the stalking mouse in a cloud of poison, the gnarly-looking mouse reacts quite violently. It's unclear how players are meant to take this thing down, but citizens of the internet are already having a field day with this bleak vision of Mickey Mouse.

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The plot of Infestation 88 mutates Mickey Mouse

So what's the plot of "Infestation 88?" Pretty standard fare for an isometric horror co-op title, actually. According to the game's Steam listing, "the year 1988, what was thought to be an outbreak of vermin morphed into something far more sinister ... you and your friends are exterminators called in to treat these mysterious infestations." The listing also notes, "This game is inspired by works that are now in the public domain," which implies that Mickey is not the only famous entity that players will have to face.

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A single screenshot on the Steam page appears to confirm this, with the player character facing down a Mothman-like beast in a barn. It's entirely possible that the marquee villain of the game is Mickey Mouse, with different cryptids and urban legends filling the villainous roles in other maps. However, potential players will no doubt keep their eyes peeled for more characters that have escaped the binds of copyright in recent history. Perhaps the aformentioned Winnie the Pooh could make an appearance in later chapters, with this team or exterminators being sent to the Hundred Acre Wood. It's worth noting that Winnie's lovable feline buddy Tigger also entered the public domain this week, opening up even more horrific possibilities. Heck, the original stage play of "Peter Pan" has also just entered the public domain, so there's a chance Nightmare Forge Games could build out an entire universe of Disney-adjacent monsters for players to battle in "Infestation 88." 

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Before we get ahead of ourselves dreaming about DLC, however, it's worth looking into how gamers at large are feeling about "Infestation 88" at this stage. While many are scandalized by the idea of Mickey going bad, others are just plain annoyed with the project.

The internet reacts to Infestation 88's evil Mickey

Outside of the initial shock at seeing Mickey Mouse in this setting, the predominant reaction to this trailer is almost one of begrudging respect. New Year's Day was barely underway before this game was announced, meaning the developer had clearly been hard at work on the title before the team was able to announce the use of Mickey Mouse in the game. This has been a major source of amusement for people seeing the trailer, with many commenters quipping that Nightmare Forge Games wasted zero time in getting this into the world. Others are far less entertained by the prospect of a Mickey Mouse horror game, with some feeling like it's a lazy and obvious route for a cash-in game. 

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"Hey, so next time something hits public domain, can the first thing someone makes not be a s****y horror thing?" asked one commenter on X (formerly Twitter). "Can we have one ounce of originality?" Another fan on YouTube observed, "Game developers are as quick to make a horror game based on public domain cartoon characters as wikipedia editors are to change 'is' to 'was.'" While some gamers are already looking forward to squadding up against Mickey, others are skeptical of the game's timing and are waiting to see more gameplay before they pass verdict.

Some folks are already keeping a running tally of the Mickey Mouse-inspired projects being announced this week, and for good reason. In addition to "Infestation 88," a couple of horror films have already been announced that aim to scare folks with Disney's creation. One is still untitled, while the other, "Mickey's Mouse Trap," is already gaining notoriety on social media. Gamers can no doubt look forward to many similar projects as 2024 builds steam.

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