Cartooners (DOS)

Cartooners DOS The Title Screen


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Written by  :  Terry Callahan (67)
Written on  :  May 28, 2008
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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Maybe not the first, but definitely one of the best

The Good

What's there to say about this game? If it can be called a game. It's actually more of an animation studio with extremely simple controls and use. As a young child back in 1990 and 1991, I remembered the thrill and joy me and my family had making little cartoons and showing them off to each other. I even had a go at making a (never completed) Sci-Fi epic to rival with Star Wars and some 'sucked into another dimension/abducted by aliens' plotline (remember, I was only 9 to 11 years old at the time).

You could say that the best thing about this game isn't that it's extensive in content (There's a fair amount of props and actors, but not THAT much) or permits you to do everything that Hollywood animation could (it's scope is fairly limited and it becomes obvious once you've made a dozen or so movies), but rather, it's undeniable charm and it's extreme ease to use. Anyone can make a movie with this, and a fairly entertaining and creative one at that, even if the options are limited. No documentation or 'how-to' guides, it's all laid right there in front of you and with a few options for experimentation and letting your creative juices flow, you can produce all sorts of stuff, even if your characters are extremely cartoonish cats, dogs, weasels and wolves.

There were other titles released at the time with a similar idea in mind, released by Walt Disney and Warner Bros at the time, but they used their trademarked characters, such as Bugs Bunny and Beauty and the Beast. Though this might have been fun, you'll never be able to make your own indie movie knowing that you're using already well established characters and personalities... with the generic characters available here, you can do whatever you want with them and it'll pass out just fine. Do you want to use the wolf as a traditional villain? You can do that. As a brave hero? You can do that. As an Average Joe just going about his business and not bother anyone? You can do that, too. You're the creator and they're your actors and whatever you want them to be, so they shall.

if you've ever used this as a kid... to ANY degree, it's memory would not have left your brain any time soon. It sure never did even 15 years after making my last movie with it (and I think that now is the time to break that hiatus...)

The Bad

What didn't I like about this game? Well, in all fairness, there's not much to criticise because of the fact that it was pretty darn innovative and good for it's time. The music was average, but then again, in 1989 and with a sound blaster, they were OK, nothing to write home about (again, this is fine because the main emphasis was for kids and simple animation, not to make major dramatic sequences or action scenes).

This is probably the biggest limitations of the game, it's lack of scope, what you can do is a bit limited. However I think it is unfair to judge it as such, given it's release year of 1989. In any case sometimes a lack of options can make you want to squeeze more out of what you have and lead to some fairly creative solutions.

The Bottom Line

In describing this game to others? Well, other than going on and going about how I loved this game as a kid and who charmingly cute it is, I could go on to say that it is a crime that this genre of simple, easy to use movie making tools is so underrated that it's practically criminal. The recent Lionhead Studio's 'The Movies' is the only recent example that comes to mind, and since I haven't played it, I will not make comparisons least I end up making misjudgements. All I can say is, a remake of being able to create more movies in 2D or 3D environment with both 'realistic' and cartoonish looking characters and plot is something that you don't see very often and this is very sad, since games that allow you to use and develop your own natural creativity are definitely needed, especially in this day and age of MMORPGs and FPS with nothing other than the same old emphasis on blowing stuff up, surviving, and getting that sword with +9 against giants and has a mana drain of 20 points per second (whatever any of that meant).

I'd recommend this game... and perhaps encourage people to capture their movies with a Cam program and share them online for others to see... a feature I wish existed in back in 1989/91.