Toonstruck is a point-and-click adventure in the style of Monkey Island. It uses a one-icon system, and the protagonist is a motion-captured actor against an animated environment.
Like an adventure game in the Roger Rabbit style. Drew Blanc, the main character, is played by Christopher Lloyd, whom you may know as the professor in Back to the Future and Fester in The Addams Family movies. He ventures through the animated world consisting of very weird cartoon characters. The land is being overrun by an evil doctor, and you, as Drew, must stop him.
The project began in October '93 and was completed over three years later in November '96. The total cost of production: over $8 million. The animation was produced at unnecessarily high levels of sophistication, exceeding even Disney movie quality. However, only 35% of this animation made it into the finished game. The game's engine was based off of Westwood's Kyrandia series' engine, and required the project's team to spend an extra 18 months ironing out bugs and glitches.
The creators of the German version of the game did wonders by translating the many typically English jokes into German. Still, many jokes seem extremely artificial in the German version, simply because they are based entirely on the English language and cannot be translated. A good example is the whole first part of the game, where you have to gather items to put in the machine in the castle. All those items and the slots to place them correctly are based on typically English sayings and proverbs. They tried to translate the whole thing into German, but the result was, of course, unsatisfying. There is also one character in the game who talks with various accents of the English language. The German version makes them talk with Dutch and Swiss accent. They even translated some names, for example, Drew Blank became "Mal Block".
Some early publicity for Toonstruck stated that it would come on three CDs; when the game was released, it was on two CDs. (Whether the game was condensed right down to fit on two, or the information was simply an early estimate / typographical error is unknown).
Virgin never quite recovered from Toonstruck. The cost to produce all that animation (and hire the top voice talent) was enormous, and the game was a commercial flop. This is probably the reason why the sequel, which set up at the game's ending, was never made.
Christopher Lloyd's side-kick in the game is called Flux - a possible reference to the blockbuster movie Back To The Future (1985) and its sequels, in which Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd)'s DeLorean time machine is powered by aid of "the flux capacitor".
One of the creatures that gets zapped by the Malevolator during the game’s intro, turns into something strongly resembling the Warner Brothers cartoon character ‘Taz of Tazmania’.
Costumes in the costume shop include ones that resemble Elmer Fudd’s hunting costume, Marvin the Martian’s garb, and a familiar WB-style robot (as often seen in Marvin the Martin cartoons), also resembling Robby The Robot from TVs Lost In Space.
The lower half of the Robot Maker resembles the lower half of a Dalek, the famous nemeses of ‘Doctor Who’. In fact, with his humanoid upper half and his Dalek-like base, the Robot Maker vaguely resembles Davros, the Daleks creator. He even quotes the Daleks famous line, “Exterminate”, as well as “Resistance Is Futile” – the saying associated with the Borg, the arch-enemy in several Star Trek series.
PC Powerplay (Germany)
Issue 06/2005 - #6 Likeable Secondary Character (for Flux)