Debbie American McGee’s Alice Returns

By Alec Meer on July 20th, 2010 at 11:06 pm.

Excellent bighairosity

EA just did a thing with some guys, and at that thing they totally said they were making some new some stuff with some other guys. One piece of said stuff is a sequel to “cult hit” American McGee’s Alice. The man who always puts his name on the box now seems to not be putting his name on the box – this will be called simply Alice: Madness Returns.

Details and a rather icky, but also slightly silly, teaser trailer are below.

Vid first:

Someone’s sure watched a lot of 80s horror films.

And now, details. By “details” I mean press release, as I ain’t got diddly else on the game yet. Obviously, it’s clever timing for EA, given the recent Tim “I don’t have any original ideas any more” Burton take on Alice In Wonderland was a decent box office success. I’ll be interested to see quite how much this is pitched as being a sequel, as USA McDonald’s Alice probably doesn’t have a whole lot of resonance with gamers under 30.

Gaming visionary American McGee returns to Wonderland as Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) and Spicy Horse Games announce Alice: Madness Returns(TM), the dark and deranged sequel to the year 2000 PC hit, American McGee’s Alice(TM). Designed with the same dark style of the original, but now featuring entirely new visuals, story and game design, Alice: Madness Returns is a fun and addictive action adventure set to release on PC, the PlayStation(R)3 computer entertainment system and the Xbox 360(R) video game and entertainment system. The game follows Alice on a journey through a wildly corrupted and shattered Wonderland to uncover the truth behind her haunted past and tortured psyche. In this journey, players will romp through highly-detailed elaborate worlds, encounter a cast of off-beat characters and engage in epic battles with deadly weapons and sinister villains.

“Alice is a classic fiction, infinitely rich with memorable characters, places and experiences. Our approach to Alice: Madness Returns takes this colorful world and reinvents it with psychotic personalities and pervasive insanity,” said American McGee, Spicy Horse Games Co-Founder and Senior Creative Director. “We can’t wait to share our vision with Alice in Wonderland fans and gamers around the world.”

“Alice: Madness Returns takes place 10 years after the conclusion of the original game, with Alice struggling to recover from the emotional trauma of losing her entire family in a fatal fire. After spending a decade institutionalized in an insane asylum, she is finally released to the care of a psychiatrist who just may be able to help her conquer the nightmarish hallucinations that still haunt her. Alice embarks on a mission to root out the true cause of her family’s mysterious death, jumping from a gloomy and stark London to a rich and provocative Wonderland.

“In 2000, we launched a cult hit on the PC with American McGee’s Alice. Ten years later, I’m pleased to announce American is back on board leading the top-rate talent at Spicy Horse Games to create this sequel,” said David DeMartini, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EA Partners. “The Alice in Wonderland fiction continues to be a fan favorite all over the world. We can’t wait for them to experience the next chapter with Alice: Madness Returns.”

Alice: Madness Returns will be available in 2011 for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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50 Comments »

  1. Frenz0rz says:

    She threw up blood and EYEBALLS. Eww.

    Also, anyone notice the corpses hanging from the ceiling? I missed it the first time.

    • Krimson says:

      I’m pretty sure those are teeth, not eyeballs.

      And does Alice in Wonderland REALLY need to be made more dark? I like the look of the game, sure, but the original book was pretty creepy on it’s own.

      At least it was when I was seven. Hmm.

    • jeremypeel says:

      I missed the corpses! Or parts of corpses, I can’t be sure.

      Mmm, making an Alice in Wonderland that’s, like, dark and shit does seem to miss the point a bit. As in, it’s all already there in better, subtler form. Kinda like when Troika came out with Arcanum, a setting like Lord of the Ring’s, only going through industrialisation! Umm…*

      But it still makes for an interesting game, and I’m all for those.

      *For the record, I’m a proper fan of Arcanum’s setting.

    • Flameberge says:

      @jeremypeel Yeah I kinda agree. There is plenty of darkness, not to mention a plethora of unsettling themes unerpinning Alice in Wonderland, I’m not entirely sure adding a further layer of more obvious stabby-stabby-blod-stabby-guts-gore type ‘darkness’ will really add to an already twisted fairytale. But hey, that’s what happens when the author wrote the stories while having an unhealthy fascination with a young girl called Alice, not to mention a lot of the story being influenced by Carroll’s / Dodgson’s somewhat negative childhood. A disturbed man creates disturbed fiction.

  2. Jake says:

    This is great news. The teaser seemed a bit excessive though, I hope it doesn’t just add a whole bunch of gross stuff and act all gritty, there’s a danger it could be the game equivalent of cutting yourself for attention.

    I like the idea of ‘pervasive insanity’ rather than all out blood vomiting, although maybe a few mouthfuls of gore were the missing ingredient from Tim Burton’s film.

  3. Xercies says:

    I actually quite liked the Tim Burton Alice In wonderland but only the tim burton bits with the dark fairytale and not the disney hodmoginised CGI bullcrap. So mostly only when the queen was around and threatening to chop peoples heads.

    • Jimmy says:

      I figured the parts where the Queen was threatening to off people’s heads were attributed to Lewis Carroll.

    • jeremypeel says:

      I don’t think Disney can be blamed for the half-arsed, disappointingly straightforward nature of that film. Their recent output has been infinitely more inventive. Alice in Wonderland always seemed like a no-brainer for Burton, and it seemed like that’s exactly how much of his brains were applied to it.

      And that Mad Hatter ‘jig’ at the end… Jesus Christ. Numbing, and not in a good way.

  4. Jamesworkshop says:

    I can only offer my approval I played Alice last week and it was good but really could have done with a map screen

  5. Nick says:

    Sarah Michelle Geller will be happy.

  6. rocketman71 says:

    Sorry, Bad Day LA was so abysmal that I don’t care anymore what McGee does.

    A pity that this will probably just taint the memories of the first Alice.

  7. kafka7 says:

    I thought the phrase “action adventure” had been outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Didn’t you hear? We’re doing the mid-to-late-nineties again. Extra points for anyone who manages to profit from the Millenium Bug scare this time around.

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      *see Mayan Apocalypse theories

    • Thants says:

      Adventure games seem to have made a comeback, I guess anything’s possible.

    • phlebas says:

      ‘Action adventure’ is fine if it stops people referring to Tomb Raider clones as adventure games.

    • BooleanBob says:

      1. Everyone loudly refers to it as a platformer.
      2. ???
      3. It sells millions on PC
      4. Nintendo port Super Mario Galaxy 2 to the PC.

  8. Carter says:

    Um anyone able to play the teaser more than once? Quit a tease if I can only see it once..

    Looking forward to this, hopefully it won’t go the Prince of Persia remake route and just become irritatingly angsty cos its ‘mature’

    • aerozol says:

      PoP came to mind from the screenshots for me too. I hope it’s not so…

  9. Quasar says:

    I loved the original, if this can maintain the imagination of that rather brilliant little gem then I’m all for it.

  10. Casimir's Blake says:

    The first AMGA game was a flawed third-person action game with fantastic atmosphere, visual and audio design, that had that characteristically “floaty Quake 3 jump” feel to it. But it was still highly creative, unique and fascinating even today.

    I maintain little hope that the sequel will be a patch on the original, lumbered – likely – with the console-isms that most commercial games have these days. QTEs? Check point saves? Regenerating health? Utter linearity?

    I hope I’m proved wrong.

    • Flint says:

      I give you the right to worry about everything else of what you listed, but the original Alice was very linear as well.

  11. Gabbo says:

    Well it’s got the same visual look of the original, I consider that a good thing. It’s not ‘Oz’, but I’m fine with more crazy adventures in Wonderland.

    Hopefully EA’s oversight will keep the game from being as shit as McGee’s more recent offerings.

  12. Scoteh says:

    Not corpses. Prosthetics. As far as I can see.

    It is a doctors office after all

  13. aerozol says:

    Well, cool video, but not really to informative eh
    I loved the original, but that had quite a unique feel to it, that will be hard to recreate. They’d have to go quite minimalist actually, which I don’t see happening at all. But then again, if it’s super crazy, and people are vomiting blood and teeth everywhere, I might get interested again. What a dilemma

  14. Howl says:

    More disturbing freakiness and less annoyingly pixel perfect Super Mario 64 action, thanks Debbie.

  15. Max says:

    I don’t remember the original being as gory. No vomiting blood and severed limbs everywhere. I hope that trailer doesn’t reflect the game’s actual art style.

  16. TeeJay says:

    Apparently the first game sold a million copies between 2000-2005: http://www.americanmcgee.com/wordpress/2005/05/14/one-million/

    I wonder if they are recruiting NiN and/or Maryln Manson et al again (or today’s equivalents) for the soundtrack? Also using the actor who played “Ghostface” in scream?

    I remember really enjoying the first game – I especially remember a quirky bit where you had to jump around a semi-platform level using chess-piece movements.

    • Jimmy says:

      Yes, I remember (from 2009 when I first grabbed it) that the chess levels were absolutely exceptional. Graphically, as interactive concept art, the chess levels and the pocketwatch levels are very beautiful, as are the accompanying sounds from Chris Vrenna (NIN).

      I agree that gothifying Alice is unnecessary (see the Czech film for something special), but this was the first time Alice had been transported to a game engine. A sequel sounds pretty pointless as there are no fresh ideas in the press release or new artwork. If it were seen as a side project again, with an Indie target audience and a talented development team, then perhaps it would make sense.

  17. Zerotonine says:

    Fantastic, I loved the original’s art style – the Cheshire cat was particularly creepy. I thought that this and Clive Barker’s Undying were two EA titles that seemed to be doing something different from the norm at the time.

    I’m glad it’s going for another spin, I can only hope there’s an Undying sequel at some point too :)

  18. Robert says:

    And I thought it was Bobby McGee…

  19. The Colonel says:

    Here here. Undying was amazing. I doubt they’d be able to do Alice any justice as a big-name release. It needs doing Indie-ly or it’ll just have to please the average gaming audience. Ya know… the audience that emerged about the same time that publishers realised there was little point including a manual for a game unless it was in pictoral form and could be digested over the average gamer’s attention span.

  20. Bhazor says:

    Oh this brings slightly embarrassing memories.
    http://images2.fanpop.com/image/photos/8900000/Mad-Tea-Party-Wallpaper-american-mcgees-alice-8929434-1024-768.jpg

    American McGee Alice was my first game related wallpaper. But I remember that I didn’t have an internet connection at the time and so I scanned a two page advert in PC Gamer instead. I’ve never actually played the game but I remember really loving the two page spread for reasons that now escape me.

    It’s like finding your old school books and reading the names you wrote in the love hearts and realising you only liked them because they wore their mums wonderbras and that there was a persistent rumour that they were bisexual. It’s embarrassing and slightly incriminating is what I’m saying.

    • Jimmy says:

      But that’s a cool wallpaper. Go get the game now and play it, on torrent if you have to. After 10 years, most games go public domain one way or the other..

  21. cheeba says:

    The original Alice (well, the original game) was cynical, unimaginative trash. The kind of lazy crazy where putting the door frames at dutch angles suffices for ‘edgy and creative’. Taking a genuinely sinister subtext and just making it the text, removing all trace of subtlety. I was suckered in back in the day, as a younger, stupider gamer, but time has only soured it further and further for me.

    At best, it was the least shit game from someone whose name became synonymous with them. I can’t imagine this being much better.

  22. Matzerath says:

    Like its predecessor, it will likely be a bad game with really awesome concept art.

  23. qrter says:

    Whatever happened to American McGee’s Grimm, which he made 3 (!) seasons of for Gametap.

    I never read anything about that series after the first episode.

  24. eclipse mattaru says:

    I did like the original one (the visual part at least), but I’m growing increasingly pissed with these self-proclaimed geniuses that think they can fix Lewis Carroll by removing any subtlety from his stories and making them more in-you-face Marilyn Manson edgy.

    Here are two free tips for ya:

    1) Carroll’s writing doesn’t need any fixing.

    2) You can’t do it anyway.

  25. LintMan says:

    The sadly missed Old Man Murray had the most spot-on observation about the original American McGee’s Alice:

    “The problem with making a dark and disturbing version of Alice in Wonderland is that it’s pretty dark and disturbing to begin with, which gives it little training wheels that help cultural firebrands ride it into geniusdom once every eighteen months or so. Masterminding a trippy reinterpretation of Lewis Carroll is like making a version of Crazy Traxi, only crazy! At this point, about the edgiest thing you could do with Alice in Wonderland is try to make it a little less fucking insane.”

    Amen, brothers.

    • Kazang says:

      Totally agree.

      The awesome thing about the book and the whole story is the underlying sense of menace and insanity that taints the seemingly glee and happy wonderland. Which you don’t totally get or understand as child but it still feels creepy and grows with you as you grow up.

      Just going full on twisted strips away the true genius in the subtlety of the story.

    • Jack says:

      I thought it was about satire on victorian culture that no longer makes sense, maths jokes, and references to drug use.

    • Josh W says:

      I just never found the original books that scary or creepy. I wonder sometimes whether there’s a certain personality type that responds to absurdity with fear. If there is, I’m really not it!
      I mean maybe the “mild peril” and lack of safety qualify as darkness, but apart from that it’s a playful world, where words and distances and identities of characters are as up for a game as anything else. That exaggerates how weird it is, it’s much less weird than that. Although the first book meanders with no particular structure, the second book is structured loosely around the pattern of a chess game, and both are full of little logical puzzles or plays on figures of speech. It’s not some drug addled stream of consciousness thing, it’s just silly.

  26. tssk says:

    As an aside I really enjoyed the Tim Burton Alice as the White Queen (to me at least) came across as the perfect politician. I suspect that it didn’t become a kinder nicer place under her rule after deposing the Red Queen.

  27. pimorte says:

    They better bloody well have the Cheshire Cat’s VA back for the sequel.

  28. Face says:

    This excites me, and at the same time scares me. Alice was a very good game. That robot-game of his that came next[forget what it was called] was also a very good game. Bad Day LA was terrible. I’m waiting for American McGee’s Alice; The Movie, that scares me less.

  29. Isometric says:

    I’ve always found the darkest adaptation of Alice in Wonderland to be Jan Svankmajer’s Alice. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095715/

    I’m interested in this sequel, could be good.

  30. phuzz says:

    I better go find my copy of the original and actually finish the damn thing then eh?

  31. Matt says:

    I just realized this site is run by a 12 year old boy that repeats whatever he reads his friends say on IMDb….I’m out bitches.