People in the gaming world have always associated MMORPG’s with violence, offensive gestures and words. Basically, they have been considered highly unsuitable for children. However, Disney’s Toontown Online is the first MMORPG designed for kids and families. Disney has made every possible effort to make the game safe and acceptable to parents.
Toontown Online combines aspects of virtual world with the multiplayer online game model. It is based in a happy and fun filled world of cartoon, which is threatened by a group of invaders called the Cogs. These robots plan to make the cartoon world dull and dreary by stealing all the colour and vitality from it. To save the virtual world from this onslaught, players have to battle with the cogs in avatar of their favourite cartoons.
Right at the beginning of Toontown, every player gets to choose his cartoon character. The player then gets to name the character, but this name must be approved by the game. Anything which is even remotely offensive or unsuitable for kids is not acceptable. Since it’s an online multiplayer game, a lot of interaction occurs with other players through either open chat or speed chat, the form requires parent passwords. The speed chat options has a lot of pre determined phrases and only these can be used in a conversation. This works decently well as a variety of phrases are available which cater to almost everybody’s needs. Besides, speeding up the process, they also ensure that no foul language is used.
As is with MMORPG’s, combat is one of the essential features of the game. But instead of guns or swords or any other weapons, the cartoons rather use laughter of Gags as the tools. The Cogs can’t tolerate laughter and if the player manages to make the laugh, it injures them and that’s how they are defeated. To buy these gags, the cartoons have to play games to earn jellybeans, the form of currency in the game. As the levels progress, the level of complexity also rises.
Thus, Disney has successfully created an MMORPG minus the violence, bloodshed and abusive language. Toontown Online USA has the essential makings of a multiplayer online game with combat, battles, and currency forms. At the same time, it has a very warm and wholesome feel to it. The games are just right blend- they are neither very difficult, nor very easy. They manage to retain the player’s curiosity. Also, the complete game play is extremely smooth; it is neither too confusing, nor too simple or uninteresting. The mini games used to collect jellybeans are particularly enjoyable, like PacMan or Mario Party, which can be played by adults also.
The Toontown cartoon world is a virtual paradise for kids, who have grown up watching Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. The graphics are simple but effective, and create a lively and colourful world. The space encompassed in the world isn’t very large, but that adds to the simplicity of the game.
The sound is average; it is great in parts but lacks the power at places. For example, the sound track during the races or even the combats could be much better, while the sound effects of the laughter are just amazing. The sound is also limited in its scope and the character’s expressions could do with a little more variety.
The community aspect works extremely well and there is no hostility among players. Players, usually kids are always ready to help other players during a combat with a Cog.
As the name suggest, Toontown Online USA can be played online initially. But, after a trial period of two months, you have to pay a monthly subscriptions amount of $ 9.95. You may experience a few problems here and there, but that is routine for an online game. That aside, the game works smoothly on PC’s.
Thus, Toontown Online USA is an extremely enjoyable experience for both kids and adults. Kids are completely awed by the world inhabited by their favourite cartoon characters. It is safe and parents would have no problems with the content of the game. The technical aspects have scope for improvement. Nevertheless, Toontown USA comes highly recommended!