After ten years in the corporate mangler, cartoonist Drew Blanc (Christopher Lloyd) is worn out and frustrated at being unable to pursue his own creative vision for an animated television series. So much so, he almost misses an important morning meeting with his boss, Sam Schmaltz (Ben Stein), due to his perpetual state of lamentation.
Schmaltz makes it painfully clear that the only reason Blanc has remained hired is thanks to the success of his nauseating cute cartoon, "The Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun Show" and asks him as Bun Bun's original creator to revitalize the show. Naturally, playing his part as the cold, corporate shill, Schmaltz's suggestion is to add more bunnies, much to Blanc's dismay, calling it Fluffy and Friends.
"Go make." Schmaltz demands, adding that the new characters must be on his desk by the very next morning.
Blanc stares at the sketchpad in front of him for hours with no signs of progress and begins to reminisce about his naive ambitions as a young cartoonist to make a show starring his favorite creation, a purple sun glasses wearing blob named Flux Wildly. Turning back to his sketch pad, uttering the mantra, "must focus on bunnies", he falls asleep amidst a lightning storm and jarred awake by his television playing The Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun Show at four o'clock in the morning.
Just as he goes to turn it off with the remote, he is suddenly sucked into the show and ultimately into Cutopia, a cartoon world of his own creation.
Met with a rainbow assortment of parading rabbits, Blanc attempts to wake himself for fear of missing his deadline when he is interrupted by a series of lightning bolts that turn the surround green and pleasant hillside into a barren, rocky wasteland. Blanc is then saved from being struck himself by Flux who pushes him clear of the final blast.
After a brief warm exchange, Blanc pleads for help to get home. Flux (voiced by Simpsons star Dan Castellaneta) assures him that despite not being able to find his own way home, much less one out of the cartoon world, he would take him to someone who would be able to help him: the benevolent ruler of Cutopia, King Hugh.
The king (voiced by David Ogden Stiers) agrees, on one condition: that Blanc and Flux help them to defeat Count Nefarious (voiced by Tim Curry), ruler of neighboring territory, the Malevolands. The king informs the duo that the Count perfected a device known as the Malevolator, a beam weapon that turns everything that is cute and nice into that which is cruel and sinister.
As it turns out, the solution is a fairly simple one: replace key components of the Malevolator and their heinous influence with their opposites in order to create a cutifiier to reverse the damage done to Cutopia. However, obtaining the new parts will not be a simple task for Blanc and Flux as they must navigate Cutopia, Zanydu, the Malevolands and their crazy inhabitants.
Toonstuck is a point-and-click adventure title typical of the era, in which players must interact with and explore environments to find clues and objects to complete often abstract puzzles to progress the story. Toonstruck's most notable feature was in its visual design: protagonist Drew Blanc is not only played and voiced by actor Christopher Lloyd, but his digitized self is used as the character sprite, while all other characters are cartoons.
Virgin interactive, wanting to replicate the success and style of movies such as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (also starring Lloyd), decided to pursue the unique combination of film and animation, only this time in a game.
The game's Executive Developer, David Bishop had the idea to make a game called "Trouble in Toonland" about a young boy named Daniel who would be magically transport to a cartoon world under attack by an evil black and white villain named Ghastly Graham who was attempting to remove all color from the world.
After it was decided that the adventure title would be aimed at an older audience, characters were developed to follow suit: The young, innocent Daniel became the tired and jaded cartoonist, Drew Blanc, and his partner, who was intended to be a friendly cartoon character named Gerald was changed for the kinetic Flux Wildly.
Lending their voices alongside Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry, Dan Castellaneta and David Ogden Stiers were many other notable voice actors: Tress MacNeille, Dom DeLuise, Jim Cummings, Jeff Bennet, Corey Burton, Frank Welker, April Winchell and Rob Paulsen.
An 2003 interview with Richard Hare, the game's Lead Designer, revealed some of the factors leading to poor sales of Toonstuck, blaming a poor marketing campaign that gave the wrong impression of the game combined with the notion in the West that cartoons are only for children. Also at the time (1996) the fact that the popularity of point and click adventure games was on the decline was not helped by what Hare referred to as "truly awful - particularly in Europe."
The game was supposed to be a lot longer but the developers had to split it in two a few months before beta and intended to release a sequel later.
Concept art that was to be used for the sequel can be seen here or as part of Character Animator Laura Janczewski's résumé along with some video examples of her compositing and background animations for Toonstruck.
Due to the financial failure of the original game, the publisher refused to release Toonstruck 2 even though the developers had already developed a large part of the game.
In summer 2010, Keith Arem, the game's musical director who currently owns the right to Toonstruck 2, stated that he is planning to release a full version of Toonstruck which would be adapted for modern PC's and include the second half of the game. But since he needs "tremendous fan support" to justify its release and get funding, there is a petition for the release of Toonstruck 2 (along with a Facebook group, Twitter and a Livejournal community).
Later, in November 2010, Mr. Arem announced on the Toonstruck 2 Facebook page that he's going to release some "behind the scenes peeks into the development process" in the next months.
The soundtrack to Toonstruck featured many famous pieces of classical and production music, often associated with cartoons, such as Laurie Johnson's Happy-Go-Lively and the William Tell Overture.
|Classical and Production Music Used in Toonstruck
|Tracks listed in order of composer:
Beaham-Powell, Nigel and Russell, Bella
- Weird Science
- The Untouchables
Bennet, Brian Laurence
- The Killing Machine
- Closing In
- Acts of Heroism
- Smoldering Fury
- Haunted House
- Papa's Playtime
- Panther Prowl
- Bowler Hats
- On With The Race
- King Conga
Farran, W. Merrick
- House of Horror
- Footsteps of Horror
Fiddy, John Charles
- Mr. Plod (With Otto Sieben)
- The War Machine
- Hide and Seek
- Spring Song (with Fiachra Trench)
- William Tell Overture (with George Wilson)
- Thieving Magpie Overture (with Fiachra Trench)
- Swan Lake Suite
- Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Walter, Dick Stephen
- Fun Fair
- A Day by the Sea
- Ho, Ho, Ho!