Toonstruck: Welcome to Zanydu

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1996’s Toonstruck. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

One thing that’s really hard to convey in a blog post format is how animated each screen is on Toonstruck. A lot of stuff continually moves around and makes noise, including Drew’s friend Flux. Christopher Lloyd, on the other hand, usually stands stock still as if he has a knife to his back and is listening intently on the mugger’s directions.

I guess subversiveness, below-the-radar innuendo, and general weirdness is par for the course for cartoons, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel uncomfortable talking with this cow about her intense desire to be milked. I notice that there isn’t an actual option to do that the old fashioned way, for which I am profoundly grateful.

If you’ll recall, this world is divided into three kingdoms: the bad place (I forget the name), Cutopia (land of the overly cute animals), and Zanydu (the land of insane cartoon things where Flux lives). Drew and Flux are off to the latter via a shuttle powered by an elephant scared of a small mouse.

But… how will I know when we’ve arrived at the right place? Subtle, this is not.

Flux takes Drew over to Wacme, where just getting into the building is a challenge (you have to take the revolving door with a light on over it at just the right time). Inside is a dog-and-cat team that have taken their love of beating each other up and turned it into a profitable enterprise of equipping others with “abuse tools.”

I should mention how the soundtrack is amazingly done in the style of classic cartoons. So many of the cues sound spittingly familiar to anyone who has watched Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, and Disney over the years.

If you do find yourself at Wacme, you really should ask for a demonstration of all of their products. It’s highly entertaining (and extremely lethal) to say the least. In a clever bit, Drew is able to scoop up the stars over Warp’s head when the cat is smacked with the glove. The human/toon interaction is pretty well-done for an FMV game.

MEANWHILE… a cutscene appears in which Tim Curry (as Count Nefarious) is informed that there’s a strange new presence in the land. Ahhh. I do so love a good Tim Curry bit. That man is a treasure.

I… um… er… hum. So. This game instantly makes me regret bringing back a magnet from Wacme to search the haystack for the missing piece of the butter churning machine. I’m just saying that when I die, please do not put the above on my headstone.

As far as I can tell, this is not one of those adventure games with any sort of moving narrative. It’s very much — as Toonstruck said itself at the start — a scavenger hunt in which you have to find the things or find the things in order to find the other things. It’s a stuff hunt in which you’re invited to deeply examine the world and experiment with different actions and combinations. That’s fine, but I could see this being very frustrating to fully unlock.

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