By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on May 8, 2015
And we're off again, traversing time and space to destinations unknown! Well, WE actually know to where, or rather to when this week's journey will take us, but it just sounds nicer this way. And no, I will not tell you right away. You'll just have to wait a few more lines before I divulge the year that is our destination. I say, you there. Yes you! Don't try to sneak a peek at the next paragraph. Keep your eyes on the current line, mister. Good, now that I have your full attention, let me first assure you that this journey (unlike the last one) will go off without a hitch. I personally checked all the trans-dimension axles and time-distillers myself and they are in perfect working condition!
As you may recall, due to some overexcited lubrication of one of the trans-rotational axles by one of our technicians, the machine went haywire and sunk the Titanic. So after deciding that one mayor disaster per month is about all I am willing to overlook, I asked the technician in question to show me exactly how he lubricated the axle in question, thanked him for his corporation after he showed me and then put the axle in a very uncomfortable place. And no, I don't mean the back of a Volkswagen. Let's just say that he won't be running anytime soon... or even walking briskly for that matter.
But on to the task at hand. We're traveling towards a destination that is well known to us: 1996. Now, I know what you're thinking and yes, we had our share of problems when last visiting this specific year, but I am confident that my current crew won't make the same mistake my last crew did. To further ensure this, I have 'accommodated' their closest family and friends on a 'visit' of our facility. So if my crew doesn't want their families to be 'relocated' to lost & found, they'll better come back after their assignment has been carried out...
Nevertheless, we have a job to do in 1996, and that is to play one of the coolest point-and-click games around. It's time for Christopher Lloyd... it's time for Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun... It's time to get Toonstruck!
Toonstruck is a point-and-click adventure, released in 1996 by Burst Studios and Virgin Interactive Entertainment and takes a somewhat different approach to the genre in terms of its main protagonist. Instead of drawing a character, the developers captured Christopher Lloyd's performance and put his digitized likeness into the game. You play as Drew Blanc (Christopher Lloyd), a cartoon animator and spiritual father of the Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun show. This show, as the title suggests, revolves around Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun and its furry bunny friends. Drew however, is quite sick of all the ever-friendly and cuddly bunnies that populate the show. So when Drew is ordered to create more bunny characters in order to, as Drew's boss puts it, give the show 'a revitalizing shot in the arm', he suffers a huge case of artist's block. He nods off while sitting at his desk and awakens to the sound of a TV that somehow got switched on. When trying to switch the damn thing off, he is sucked into the screen and transported to Cutopia, home of Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun. Once there, he runs into his most beloved creation, Flux Wildly (voiced by Dan Castellaneta). Flux is a small, purple, wise-cracking and sarcastic character Drew invented some years ago, but was denied the opportunity to make a show about.
Flux takes Drew to see the king of Cutopia, King Hugh (voiced by David Ogden Stiers). Once there, it is quickly explained to Drew that Cutopia is in grave danger from Count Nefarious (voiced by Tim Curry), ruler of the Malevolands. He plans to turn all Cutopians evil by means of a flying contraption that utilizes a Malevolator beam; a beam that turns everything it touches to a dark, grim and evil version of itself. King Hugh asks Drew if he can track down Count Nefarious and disable his machine of doom. In turn, he promises Drew a way back to his own world. Drew accepts the mission and, together with Flux, sets off to save Cutopia. Their journey takes them across Cutopia, to Zanydu (Flux's wild and wacky homeland) and deep into the heart of the Malevolands. Along the way, the duo meet the most crazy bunch of characters this (or any other) world has ever seen, each with their own stories and puzzles. Wherever you choose to go within the world, you are bound to be amused by its inhabitants and stumped by the puzzles you are presented with. When they are on their travels, they have to collect certain items to solve puzzles and advance through the game. And like every point-and-click gamer knows, you need somewhere to put the damn stuff. That's where your inventory comes in. And although, as far as inventories go, my absolute favorite inventory of all time has to be luggage from the discworld series, Drew's bottomless bag is a close second... a REALLY close second.
From a visual standpoint, Toonstruck was absolutely awesome! The minimalistic approach to the controls made for a far less cluttered screen than we were used to at the time. The pointer was context sensitive so it removed the need to have an action menu filling up the bottom of the screen. Where you usually had this action menu there's just a whole bunch of... nothing! The only thing that's on your screen is a small icon of your bottomless bag, which you can click to enter your inventory. This resulted in a beautiful full-frame world that blew you away, as did the rest of the game! From the colorful or creepy backdrops to the sheer brilliance of the all-star cast and soundtrack. From the sarcastic one-liners that Flux throws into a conversation to the damn good plot that drives the game. Toonstruck had it all! The only downside to the game is its year of release. 3D gaming was making its march to power and 2D games tended to be overlooked by most people... but not all! Oh no, not on my watch. So although the rise of 3D gaming interfered with Toonstruck's sales quite a bit, I personally think it's a real masterpiece and I'm sad that the game never got finished.
'Wait a bleeding minute! The game never got finished?', I hear you think. Yes, it's sad but true. So if you'll indulge me, I will try to explain. Basically, while Toonstruck does feature a huge amount of conversation, exploration and puzzles, we are, in fact, only playing half the game. The other unused animations, backgrounds and videos were supposed to be used in a sequel. Too bad Drew and Flux never got the chance to appear in this sequel, simply because it was never made. Disappointing sales of the original game were (as is often the case) identified as being the main culprit. Though there are rumors, and there have been for years, that people are trying to remake the original and extend it with this unused material, effectively merging two games into one, it is nowhere near to completion. So I guess only time will tell if we are ever going to see the wacky, zany and funny adventures of Drew and Flux continued or not.
Alas, poor Drew! I knew him, dear reader...
Burst Studios & Virgin Interactive Entertainment