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Games

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Disney's ToonTown Online Review

By Vince Freeman :  January 30, 2004

Toon Combat 101

Within ToonTown's connecting streets you will find two types of enemies, Cogs walking the streets and actual Cog-occupied buildings, of differing sizes or story-levels, and just overflowing with high-level Cogs. The street-level battles are initiated by walking up to a Cog and entering his "proximity range", whereby you progress to the battle screen. At this point, other players and wandering Cogs can enter the fray (maximum 4 per side), and can lead to some extended battles.

Cog Building forays are best done in groups (again, a 4-player max), and involve finding an occupied building and jumping onto the elevator. Each floor of the building, denoted outside, requires a battle and the last floor holds the requisite Boss and his henchmen. Teamwork is essential in taking back a Cog building, and once all the enemies are defeated, the building reverts to its old Toon form. Some of the larger Cog buildings are tough going, even for higher-level characters, so traveling in groups and carrying plenty of Gags are the order of the day.

In keeping with the Toon-like environment, weapons are not comprised of swords or guns, but Gags. Instead of a Toon physically striking a Cog, the entire combat system revolves around the use of humor, and an extensive line of Gags. These are broken down into basic groups such as Squirt (squirt gun, hose), Throw (pie in the face), Sound (whistle, horn), Tune-up (healing through jokes), Drop (anvil/safe on the noggin gag), Lure (dollar bill on a string), and Trap (banana peel). The above are just a few Gag examples, and inside each of the seven Gag groups are six different Gags, that get more powerful (and visually interesting) as you move higher on the list.

The actual combat is turn-based, with each Toon selecting the appropriate Gag and then waiting for the action to start. Gags launch in the order they are displayed on the game screen and there are bonuses for groups 'ganging up" and using the same Gag type (let's all use Squirt), so teamwork and strategy is essential. The Cogs also fire back with their own brand of damage, using comedic corporate weapons such as Red Tape and Paper Shredders. When the battle is over, the defeated Cogs spin and then blow up (they are robots) or if a Toon is beaten, he or she loses all but one hit point, and warps back to the Playground to recover. There is no death for the Toons, but the actual Cog blow-up sequence and audio may be a bit tough for very young children.

Character and Game Progression

The ToonTown game revolves around accepting and completing Toon Tasks, which offer differing rewards. Some are integral to the game and follow a distinct plot, while others are "just for fun" and could yield anything from jellybeans to a temporary "Big Head" for your character. The main tasks are quite varied and usually involve fighting Cogs and beating a set number and type of Cog to receive the reward. Others could pertain to retaking one or more Cog buildings, or completing basic delivery jobs for ToonTown NPCs.

The result is a combination of experience points and items, with each Cog battle yielding experience points for the Gag type used, and at the end of each task, the stated reward is given. The most important of these task rewards are the Gag film tracks, which must be collected to form a completed Gag, thus allowing you to "learn" and use it in battle. You start off with a couple of basic Gag types, but in order to receive access to higher-level ones (in order), you need to complete the entire track. The collecting part is usually fun, but the tasks needed for the last piece of the Gag track are notorious for their never-ending nature, and can involve multiple steps to complete.

The experience part of the game is a bit different than traditional online games, as it adds points to your Gag experience, and not to the character. Beat enough Cogs and the Gags you used then grow in experience, with each "level" attained, adding a higher-power gag to your repertoire. There are modifying factors, such as using a comparable Gag to the level of the Cog (a Level 5 Gag will destroy a Level 1 Cog, but you receive no experience for it), which is basically a "don't kill an ant with a sledgehammer" deal. Experience points can also be increased depending on the location or situation. During a Cog invasion, XP is doubled, and battling in Cog buildings automatically raises the XP payoff, and as you move up the floors, it also increases again.

The other character traits can be improved, but only through task rewards. Hit points, contained in the Laff-o-Meter, can grow, but these come in the form of completed tasks, as do increases to the number of Gags and jellybeans you can carry. The player progression model works quite well through most of the game, but at the higher levels it can get tiresome. Toon Tasks can move to the ludicrous, and involve beating literally hundreds of a given Cog type, and there are set maximum limits set for reach character trait.


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