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Online Game Review:    Disney's Toontown Online

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Online Game Review: Toontown


By Disney

Windows 98/Me/2000/XP

Released: 2003

Reviewed: February 2004

Our Recommended Age: 7-14

Our Rating: A

 

 

 

Get Disney's Toontown Online

 

 

Screenshots:

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Top Pick. This 3D online game impressed us, and continues to do so. Multiplayer would be an understatement--in fact, officially, the adjective "massively" goes along with "multiplayer" to describe the experience of Disney's Toontown. Any given moment during the day, there are thousands of children playing the game.

Parents need to sign their children up for Toontown, which costs $9.95 per month, although a free 3-day demo is available. A player becomes a Toon--a cat, dog, mouse, rabbit, duck, or horse--that can be customized by mixing and matching body parts, colors, and clothes. Kids choose a gender for their Toon, as well as a name. Names can be generated, with such funky selections as Baron von Wrinklezilla or Rosie Kookyhopper. Alternatively, names can be created, although they must be run past the Toon Council for approval.  

The underlying story in Toontown is this: evil business robots, called Cogs, have been unwittingly released in Toontown. They are trying to turn the very colorful and happy town into a black-and-white corporate world of drab business buildings. But, the Cogs can be defeated by playing with their weakness--they don't have a sense of humor! Toons defeat Cogs by using a variety of gags, such as cream pies and squirt flowers. There are 4 types of Cogs (Lawbots, Cashbots, Bossbots, and Sellbots) and there are 8 different varieties of Cogs for each type. 

Using "gags" as weapons, Disney has done a fantastic job of creating a game that is non-violent.

Children begin the game by playing a tutorial. They learn that they must complete jobs, called Toontasks, in order to win prizes. Children earn jellybeans (Toontown's currency) to purchase new gags, as well as new abilities, laffpoints, and more. Over time, they develop their skills in throwing, squirting, trapping, and so forth, and the game grows along with their budding skills. Mini-games are abundant and are completed using various combinations of luck and skill. Jellybeans are earned for success in the games.

Each player is given his/her own house where collectibles are stored. Toontown consists of a number of different neighborhoods, each of which features a Cog-free playground. Kids can journey off to meet the Cogs by entering one of the streets that branch off from the playground.  

There is a strong social component to the game that is fascinating. As children guide their Toon through Toontown, they encounter other players. They can stop to "talk" to another Toon using dozens of pre-made chat phrases, including such things as "I like your shirt" and "Can you help me?" Kids can also chat with their real-life friends (subscribers only) but they will need to exchange a password that allows them to chat in the game using the keyboard. A filtering engine is in place for these private chats and other Toons are unable to view the dialogue. Players are allowed to add Toons to their friend list and can maintain up to 50 friends. Players can see which of their friends are online, and can teleport directly to them if desired. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toons can access a variety of items through their "Shticker Book"--a map of Toontown, their Cog Gallery, gags, tasks, and more. Children use both their mouse and keyboard.

For each account created, there are 6 possible Toons to create. This means that siblings (and parents!) can enjoy their own separate adventures in Toontown with only one account.

There are several features of Toontown that parents will find both impressive and reassuring. The online game is designed to be safe and non-violent--Toons cooperate with other Toons and cannot intimidate or hassle each other; Toons never die (they can become "sad", but have the chance to heal and boost up their laffpoints); and chatting with other people is restricted and controlled. 

The game is creatively designed to be played by a wide range of skill levels and ages. For one, the game is playable for younger children right from the start, and its challenges grow gradually. At the same time, older children will find plenty of challenges as they build their skills. As well, the appeal of the game is broad. It is humorous and intriguing for children as young as 6 or 7, and yet still manages to entertain older children and even some adults.  

Things parent should consider: Children need to be able to read (text bubbles) in order to move through Toontown. At times, the game can be rather slow-moving. Although Disney purposely set up the game with short play sessions, kid testers quickly became addicted to the game, demanding more and more time on the computer.

We found the game's cost ($9.95 per month) well worth it. Two or three months of Toontown, for example, will cost the same as many software games, and Toontown has excellent replay value. 

 

Pros:


  • Broad appeal
  • Challenges grow with the skills of players, keeping kids ages 7 and up at a comfortable level 
  • Safe, non-violent, humorous, and happy experience
  • Impressive features
  • Cooperation and friendliness are promoted
Cons:


  • Sometimes slow-moving
  • Addictive for some children; could have been more educational
        

 

Our Rating:


 

A

 

To buy: Disney's Toontown Online (includes 2 months with an option, of course, to renew).

 

Reviewed February 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To buy: Disney's Toontown Online (includes 2 months with an option, of course, to renew).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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