Review By Al Giovetti
Genre: animated graphic adventure
Release: November 1996
Developer: Virgin Interactive
Art: Bil Skirvin
Music: Keith Arem
Producer: David Bishop
Lead designer: Richard Hare
Publisher: Virgin Interactive
Requirements: 2X CD ROM drive (3 CDs)
History: There was a movie called Mary Poppins that needed more pop so they put people into cartoons cartoon characters and live-action. Later a cartoon named Roger Rabbit and another called Cool World came along. Its only natural to use a green or blue screen to put characters in animated features and games. Yes, now games are doing the plot of Cool World.
Plot: Drew Blank, the animator of the Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun Show within Sam Schultz Studios, is taken into a cartoon while discussing plans for a new show, Fluffy & Friends, with studio director Sam Schultz, played by Ben Stein (Mr. Cantwell of Wonder Years, Miami Rhapsody, Casper, and Ghostbusters II). The plot sounds just like Cool World so far. The cartoon world is called Cutopia, which is filled with characters from the Fluffy Bunny show and ruled by the good King Hugh (David Ogden Stiers), Drew must save Cutopia from the Evil Count Nefarious, leader of Malevolands, who is "Malevolating" Cutopia in his own image.
Marge the cow, the sheep and the Churn a Tron 2000 milk machine are malevolated into the Wheel-O-Luv game where the cow has a thing for piercings, and bondage. Other characters include The footman who is a big foot and Spike the Clown, who is malevolated into a balloon animal torturer. Blank tries to help King Hugh who wants to save the world by building a cutifier to nullify the effects of Nafarious' Malevolator.
The game begins in the home of Bricabrac who explains your goals on a blackboard. After Drew goes to Cutopia he visits Zanydu, which is full of Drew's own characters. Seedy, the butt-bowling bartender who only respect people who insult him; Warp and Woof; the owners of Wacme Concepts constantly beat up each other and peddle exploding cigars and acid spray, and other Drew creations. Drew has the help of a little purple guy named Flux Wildly, a spastic and sarcastic sidekick.
Game play: There is about 20 hours of gameplay for seasoned gamers, according to game producer David Bishop. You explore the three realms of Cutopia, Malevolands, and Zanydu.
Interface: The game has a full inventory system onscreen and text blurbs to help with those who would prefer text instead of or with the voice.
The over 50 Puzzles are of the treasure hunt type, where you find the object, combine or not combine it with other objects you may have found, and use it in the right way in the right place and time. Some puzzles include an exploding turkey, seduce a chicken, and flush the fish.
Humor is mandatory in this type of game and is in the best tradition of the classic film it is loosely based upon. Instead of Acme, this game uses Wacme, probably because there is no Warner or Disney license including, classic cartoon humor, sight gags and twisted shenanigans.
Full Motion Video: Christopher Lloyd, of Back to the Future and Taxi, plays Drew Blanc. Chris is filmed before a green or blue screen and put into the animation over the other characters and backgrounds using motion tracking just like the original Toon animated feature film, who killed Roger Rabbit. The game also holds over an hour of cartoons, composed of over 50,000 frames of animation. The cartoons are rewards for solving puzzles or just carry you into the next part of the game.
Graphics appear to be two dimensional hand drawn animation characters and backgrounds with the full motion video of Christopher Lloyd shot in front of a blue/green screen. The extremely smooth 15 frames per second animation graphics are comprised of over 75,000 frames of animation created at Nelvana, producers of the Wildcats, Animaniacs, The Tick, Eek the Cat and Beetlejuice animated cartoon series, over 100 hand-painted background scenes to explore and dozens of characters to meet, and over one hour of live action video and traditionally animated cinematic sequences. The colors of the game are bright, bold primary colors that make the characters stand out beautifully.
Voice actors: Flux is your side-kick who fills you in on what is going on in the animated world and its dangers, is voice played by Dan Castellana. Fingers the Octopus is played by veteran voice actor, comedian, and sidekick in the Bandit movies, Dom DeLouise, who recently made a hit with his cooking CD-ROM. Tim Curry plays the voice of Count Nefarious the bad guy (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Interplay's Frankenstein, and Sierra's Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers). David Ogden-Steirs (MASH Colonel Winchester and Clock in Disney's Beauty and the Beast) plays King Hugh, the good guy.
The other voice actors, Corey Burton, Tress MacNeille, Rob Paulsen, Jeff Bennett, Jim Cummings, and April Winchell do an excellent job as they have on their cartoon gigs with Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers, Gummi Bears, Goof Troop, Bonkers, Aladdin, ET, Tron, Biker Mice from Marks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Secret Squirrel, Captain Planet, Gargoyles, Earthworm Jim, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and many others. Clearly a talented cast that you will appreciate in the game.
Sound: CD-quality digital sound, samples and special effects with voice talent Christopher Lloyd playing our hero, Drew Blank, a not so clever double pun. Dome deLouise plays "Fingers" the octopus who you can challenge to a game at the arcade. Tim Curry, of Rocky Horror Picture Show and numerous computer features, such as Frankenstein and Gabriel Knight 1, plays the evil Count Nefarious. And then there's Flux Wildly, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, television's Homer Simpson, a sarcastic, flatulent, purple thingy. Davic Ogden Stiers, of MASH fame, plays another toon.
Music score: Has parts licensed form Ren and Stimpy, which is quite appropriate to this type of humor. Overall the music is whimsical and ominous at the same time. Since Virgin is also a music house of no small repute, many of the songs are rearrangements of their music which tends toward the classical music that is seen in Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons.
Utilities: Unfortunately, the game will only run in DOS and does not run well under Windows 95.
Multi-player: not really suitable for multi-player mode. But this may be a title you want to play with your friends and share the humor.
Hints: Flux is the hint system of the game. Listen to and watch carefully the actions of Flux and you will often get a not to subtle hint to your next move.
Reviewers: Bryan Del Rizzo writes a too short but erudite summary of the game, and partcularly enjoys the voice of the "acerbic sidekick, Flux Wildly." Julie says, "The footman, who is actually a large foot, has a delicious sardonic, condescending manner."
K. Hedstrom, Computer Gaming World, number 146, September, 1996, pg. 46.
Trent Ward, http://www.gamespot.com/previews/toonstru/index.html
Corey Cohen, PC Games, volume 3, number 9, September, 1996, pg. 52-55.
Cindy Yans, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 71, October, 1996, pg. 37.
Glenn Broderick, Computer Player, volume 3, number 5, October, 1996, pg. 36.
Bryand Del Rizzo, Boot, volume 1, number 5, January, 1997, pg. 96, (80%).
Julie Gordon, Computer and Net Player, volume 3, number 9, February, 1997, pg. 81, 90%.
Ofer Licht, http://www.game-revolution.com/games/pc/toonstk.htm, 88%.
Doug Radcliffe, http://www.ogr.com/reviews/toonstruck.shtml, 90%.