- After Disney’s copyright for Steamboat Willie expired, indie creators have taken advantage by featuring retro versions of Mickey Mouse in their projects.
- Nightmare Forge Games announced Infestation: Origins, a horror co-op game that features a twisted version of Mickey Mouse.
- Rubber Hose Rampage is a new retro-style shooter game inspired by Cuphead, featuring Steamboat Willie and Minnie Mouse battling AI-controlled chatbots.
Yet another third-party Steamboat Willie video game is being released this year in the form of Rubber Hose Rampage, a 2D shooter seemingly inspired by Cuphead. At the beginning of 2024, Disney’s long-held copyright for the original Steamboat Willie animated short film expired, allowing anyone to use that particular version of Mickey Mouse in any project they wish without fear of legal action. This came at the end of many efforts by Disney to prevent its most famous property from entering the public domain, though the conglomerate still retains ownership of any version of its mascot to come after his initial cinematic appearances.
Unsurprisingly, many indie creators have jumped at the chance to include a retro version of the iconic Mickey Mouse in their projects. On the very day that Disney’s trademark for Steamboat Willie lapsed, horror developer Nightmare Forge Games announced Infestation: Origins, a first-person survivor horror co-op title that pits players against a twisted version of Mickey Mouse that quickly drew comparisons to the infamous 2023 film Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey. Other recently announced Steamboat Willie projects have been more in line with what fans expect of Mickey, including one new game that may have flown under the radar until now.
Infestation: Origins is Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey All Over Again
Infestation: Origins’ use of Mickey Mouse has been much compared to Winnie the Pooh’s slasher flick, though key differences remain.
Just a few days ago, a retro-style shooter titled Rubber Hose Rampage suddenly appeared on the Xbox Store after being announced last month, as reported by Pure Xbox. Created by lesser-known indie developer Revie Studios, Rubber Hose Rampage puts players in control of Steamboat Willie and Minnie Mouse (who appeared in Steamboat Willie and thus falls under the same public domain agreement as her boyfriend) as they battle AI-controlled chatbots from the future. The game features stylish black-and-white visuals inspired by the classic theatrical cartoons of the 1920s and 1930s and 21 boss battles against various animated enemies.
Rubber Hose Rampage Looks Like A Mickey-Flavored Cuphead
Judging from its brief reveal trailer, it seems that Rubber Hose Rampage takes many cues from Cuphead, the 2017 sidescroller that also blends vintage-style animation with blistering run-and-gun gameplay. It also brings to mind Mouse, an upcoming BioShock-like FPS that puts players in the role of a rodent detective rebelling against a corrupt government and features the same black-and-white rubber hose art style that Steamboat Willie helped make famous back in 1928.
Rubber Hose Rampage may not look as polished as these two examples, but it still could be an interesting title for fans of both Cuphead and Mickey Mouse’s past video game exploits. Rubber Hose Rampage will be available to purchase for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC for $4.99 on the Xbox Store sometime this spring, serving as yet another indie project spawned from Steamboat Willie entering the public domain nearly a hundred years after he first sailed onto the big screen.
Disney is a conglomerate and media company that owns a variety of television stations like ABC, Disney Channel, and Disney XD. They are also owners of the Marvel and Star Wars franchises and own the ever-popular Disney theme parks found all around the world.