World Review: ToonTown
Compatible with Operating Systems:
World Status: Operational
The first MMO created with young children in mind, ToonTown is full of bright, cheerful, oversized graphics, and, perhaps unsurprisingly for an MMO created by Disney Studios, has a Disney cartoon feel throughout. All the menus are ?big and squishy?, almost like baby toys in their design and blockiness.
Every ToonTown account is allocated up to six characters, each completely separate from the rest.
The whole experience is hand-held by the world?s interface, but in a way that feels loving, not oppressing. Your first view of the world, when you create your character being a perfect example.
The screen transitions in to a single room. In this room are Mickey and Minnie mouse, standing at either end of it. Both ask you to click on them if you would like a character of their gender. Once done, your chosen mouse walks out of the room, into another where your new character can be created.
This process continues for several screens, from gender, to a mix and match bodyshape generator, to a skin colour painter, to a clothes wardrobe, and eventually a random name generator. At each stage the mouse stays with you, giving you handy tips, and gentle encouragement. A good thing really, as at each stage, the array of choices is bewildering.
Even the random name generator gives a couple of hundred words in each of four columns. To use it, you slide each column up and down to mix and match a two or three word name, which can be fairly humorous, and, importantly for a child-world, always clean.
One point worthy of note is that ToonTown is very much a furry world. You have pigs, dogs, rabbits, mice, ducks ? all the races of Disney save for human ? those appear only when you meet the enemy.
Once your character is created, the world zooms out, much like a cartoon entry, with an expanding circle, and you find yourself in a large shop, in a non-persistent, non-collaborative subworld. There are only four other beings in this subworld ? two ToonTown security officers, the tutorial clerk, and a roaming low-level cog monster.
This tutorial world exists solely to show you the basics of ToonTown, with liberal dialogue from the three toon denizens of this world, and a linear progression path to educate you with how to play.
You may complete the tutorial at your own pace, there is no sense of urgency here, and the longer you take, the more of the next part of the world loads.
ToonTown streams its downloads. If you have bandwidth to spare at any time, ToonTown fills it up by downloading areas further and further away to your PC, so you don?t have to wait any longer than you have to to progress further.
The streets of ToonTown are no less cheery than the rest of it, and your job is to fight to keep it that way. The plot is the evil cogs ? humanoid robotic businessmen ? have moved in, and plan to turn ToonTown into a commercial empire, full of pencil pushers, telesales execs, doom, gloom, and depression. As a resident of ToonTown, this would be bad for you, so you fight by hitting the cogs with practical jokes, to make them laugh, which in turn makes these grumpy beings explode.
Presented in a true 3D layout, ToonTown is one of those systems where you never see through your character's eyes. Instead, you follow along, a short distance behind them, as they frolic - yep, not run, frolic - through the streets.
Annoyingly, the action is camera-based, and you can expect annoyance as the camera angle shifts unexpectedly, so that you miss out on the best view of the action more than once.
Toontown is browser-based, and regrettably only works with Internet Explorer 5.0 or above. That said, it does avoid most of the known problems with Internet Explorer, by offering no content from sites other than its own - merely using the browser's code as a bootstrap loader for its own add-ons which turn a web browser into an impressive, and immersive world client.
For some, its the thrill of discovery, the freedom to strike out, to pioneer. Whether its mapping new lands, or exploring unknown fields of endeavour, to be first, to boldly go, this is what explorers live for.
Toontown is massive, with dozens of streets, junctions, hidden areas, and thousands of shops, museums, fire stations, banks, libraries, gyms, cinemas, any one of which you may freely enter. Most of these places will give you quests to solve, others will simply tell you knock knock jokes, all are bright, colourful, and a joy to discover.
The social life is the life for you. To chat, to roam, to gossip all day, and chatter all night. You are the heart of the party, and you are the soul. The drive to chatter, the need to gossip, stretching out, making connections, mind against mind, heart against heart. It keeps you going, it keeps you sane.
Central to ToonTown?s promise is a safe environment, and they manage this quite well. As the world is built mainly for young children, the level of dialogue could naturally be assumed to be quite poor by adult standards, as young children ? particularly highly excited young children ? can be very hard to understand.
Work, work work. Everybody... You have this burning desire to succeed, to achieve renown, to be the best in whatever field you set your sights to. No matter what, you must be the best... What will you be? A powerful warlord? The leader of a town? You're ambitious, and crave power? This section is for you.
You get your fun through fighting, killing, pillaging and pilfering. From despicable thieves, through sneaky assassins, great military generals, and noble knights, you love to kill, you live to kill.
Combat takes place in real-time on the street, when a toon and a cog get too close. If you see a fight starting, you can join in, with up to four toons collaborating at once (more than four, and it simply will not let you join). On the flip side, that works for cogs too ? any wandering cog can, and will join in as they see a battle forming, up to a maximum of four at once ? you can duel six if you destroy two before the others arrive.
Not the sort of thing that will keep older players happy for very long, but the atmosphere just hums with joy, and it is certainly a nice place to loiter if you would like some cheer in your day.
Rating 78 / 100
Client OS:Win 2K, Win 98, Win 2K, Win 2K