(This is part of my journey going playing through 1996’s Toonstruck. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
Things have never looked more dire for Drew. Separated from a mind-addled Flux, stripped of all of his possessions, and locked away in Nefarious’ dungeon, what chance does he have? Guess we’ll find out!
Escaping isn’t too difficult; Drew uses a dusty mat to make the guard sneeze himself unconscious — and sneeze out the key inside of his nose. Gross, but we’ll allow it. And speaking of gross, Drew soon has to transform himself into…
…to climb a vent. Don’t worry, it’s just a costume. I do get a kick out of seeing Lloyd spin around as he transforms, though.
So here’s a free tip that I’m going to give to all of you: If you come upon a clown-shaped door like this in your life… don’t go through it. Nothing that’s worth it lies on the other side of that painted maw.
Drew doesn’t heed my advice and therefore encounters Spike the Clown. Forget about It; Spike is the real deal in the scary clown business. He’s certifiably insane — and loves to torture balloon animals. There’s a backstory there, I think. In as many words, Spike admits that Miss Fortune electrifies his brain for the amusement of Nefarious. “Poor, poor clown” Drew says in a first for human history. In a fit of mercy, Drew secretly drugs Spike’s red nose and puts him to sleep.
It’s about this time that Drew experiences his first fit of turning into a toon himself. That’s an old hat for Christopher Lloyd, of course.
This game had gone way, way too long without a choreographed gator ice skating routine, and so we have a break for one. Actually, Drew iced up Nefarious’ bathroom floor and these gator guards end up skating right out of the window. Clever!
Earlier in the game, Drew met a couple of frog brothers who were lamenting how their third brother had gotten kidnapped. I was mildly impressed that he turned up in a chest in Nefarious’ castle. At least he was useful for some exposition, namely that Nefarious was working on a warp device to break into our world. Sounds like just the thing to get Drew home!
I only now noticed that Nefarious’ trio of henchmen are just pencil outlines of cartoons — kind of like how animators will start drawing a character. That’s pretty clever too.
OK, this was pretty funny. So Drew puts some TNT in a turkey (stuffing!) and sends it up to gator guards in a rec room. They try to eat it, the TNT explodes, and all of them turn into… alligator skin purses, boots, and belts. Took me a second and then I laughed.
There’s another funny bit when Drew attempts to get some sunglasses in a storage room and ends up wrecking the place as the glasses keep eluding his grasp. If you ever wanted to see Christopher Lloyd wearing a blind donkey’s head, this is the game for you.
One of the big criticism that ’90s FMV games get is how awkward the characters interact with the scenery and items. Toonstruck gets major points in my book for making most of the cartoon/Drew interaction very seamless, including all of the cartoon props that Drew uses — such as these sunglasses, which reflect Miss Fortune’s hypnotic gaze back to her.
After an entire second act of farting around Nefarious’ castle without Flux, Drew finally gets the warp device and hijacks the Malevolator. He blasts Nefarious and Fluffy and then transforms Flux back into his old self — seconds before the two crash and plummet to their doom. Drew activates the warm device and heads back home…
…where he attempts to pitch The Flux & Fluffy Show to his boss. Ben Stein ain’t having it, and dejected, Drew returns to his office yet again. Except that now, Flux contacts him and tells him that Nefarious and Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun are still on the loose and the cartoon world needs Drew once more. As the toon mutagen takes effect, Drew is sucked back into that weird place…
And that’s it for Toonstruck! Apart from a couple of frustrating puzzles, I have nothing but high praise to give this game. It’s well-done across the board with plenty of funny lines, entertaining cartoon cutscenes, and a terrific performance by Lloyd, Curry, and Castellaneta. It’s a crying shame that plans for a sequel — which the ending clearly sets us up for — was scrapped after the adventure game bust of the late ’90s.