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Beep, Beep. Suffering Succotash. I thought I saw a Puddy Tat. What's up Doc? Phrases which conjure up wonderful images of toons rushing about and getting flattened, squashed, stretched, having heavy objects dropped on to them and other assorted mayhem. My favourite cartoons are the Road Runner ones. I feel sorry for Wil E. Coyote. After all, he only wants to catch his lunch. Mind, I could never understand why, instead of ordering all that equipment from the Acme Corp, he didn't just order a take-away pizza :-)

I don't really know why I like cartoons but I suspect that it is that a cartoon world can be so different from the real world. For example Wil E. Coyote gets blown up, hit by trains and trucks, falls from great heights, and has A crossroads cliffs dropped on to his head from even greater heights, but, he always walks away from it. The important thing is that the rules of the cartoon world must be consistent. Given consistency it is very easy to believe in a cartoon world and thus to believe that Toons can exist.

In most cartoons it is not necessary to believe in the Toons as 'real' since there is no connection with the world we know and inhabit. But, occasionally there is a connection. The film 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' for example, was set in a world where Toons and Humans co-existed, in a world very similar to the world we know. Toonstruck is similar except that in this case a Human is stuck in the Toon World.

The central character of Toonstruck is Drew Blanc. Drew has spent the last ten years drawing the Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun Show, which is as bad as it sounds. Drew has had enough of nice bunnies and wants to write and draw The Flux Wildly Show. Flux is a sort of short purple thing with green glasses. No eyes, but green glasses. At the start of the game Drew's boss Sam Schmaltz, orders Drew to create a new show. No, not the Flux Wildly Show but one with even more cute bunnies. The trouble is Drew cannot do bunnies any more. He goes back to his office A Scarecrow and falls asleep over his drawing desk. He wakes up at 4 in the morning and sees that the Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun Show is on the telly. Before he can work out why it's on at such a strange time, he gets sucked into the TV. There he meets up with Flux, who tells him that the only one who get him back to his own world is King Hugh of Cutopia.

Drew goes to see King Hugh who tells him that he cannot send Drew back because Count Nefarious is using his Malevolator to destroy Cutopia. King Hugh is too busy trying to save his kingdom to help. Needless to say if you want the Kings help you must save Cutopia. In order to do that you have to find the items necessary to operate the Cutifier. The only trouble is you have no idea exactly what items are required. You do know which items drive the Malevolator and you have a clue which should be enough to work out what is needed for the Cutifier.

The game starts in King Hugh's Palace and your first task is to talk to the King's Chief Scientist, a bird called Bricabrac. Unfortunately, Bricabrac is too busy looking for his glasses to talk to you. When you have finished with Bricabrac you can go looking for the items.

The world you are trapped in has three areas, Cutopia, Zanydu and The Malevolands. You start in Cutopia and one of the puzzles, or rather two of the problems, is to work out how to get to the other two places. Each of the main areas has a number of locations, all of which you will have to visit a number of times. The characters are all wonderful. Each one is different and has a wonderful line in funny comments. Mind you, some of them could talk the hind legs of a donkey, which is my only A Bridge - sort off criticism of the characters - they talk to much. In most cases this is OK since what they say is very funny, but occasionally it can be a bit annoying. My favourite character is Jim, the dog that owns and runs Jim's Gym, probably because he sounds just like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The graphics are pretty good but since they are deliberately cartoonish it would not be fair to compare them to a game with Full Motion Video. That having been said the character of Drew is Full Motion Video and is played by Christopher Lloyd. Now, I sometimes wonder if it is necessary to have real actors and FMV in computer games and in many cases it adds nothing to the game. Toonstruck however, is different. Since the basic plot requires that a human has been sucked into a cartoon world, making the only human character FMV and the rest cartoon seems to work very well.

The puzzles are not too difficult but it is necessary to listen carefully to what the characters say in order to get the clues. It is also necessary to remember that you are in a Toon world so there are things you can do that would be impossible in our world. The puzzles are of the standard variety i.e. the find an object and work out what to do with it type. At least, they are in the first half of the game. The second half of the game is slightly different, mainly due to a slight An Arcade twist in the story at the end of the first half. The puzzles are also slightly different being more of the how do I solve that puzzle variety. For example, at one point you will find a bookcase. In the bookcase are some books, pull them out in the right order and something happens.

Playing the game is easy enough since the user interface is simple and uncluttered. The cursor changes shape depending upon what you can do at the time. For example, if you can talk to someone then it changes to a pair of chattering teeth. If it is an opening and closing hand then you can use the object. A finger and thumb opening and closing means you can pick up the object, and so on. In most cases using the right mouse button will give a description of the object. The exception is when the cursor is a pointing hand. This icon shows an exit and left clicking will cause Drew and Flux to walk to the exit and leave. Right clicking on the other hand will move you immediately to the next scene. All the objects which you pick up are placed in a bottomless bag, which you are given by Bricabrac at the start.

A Milking Machine

The sound is good too. All the characters have voices which fit, and are very clear. Incidentally, there are subtitles for those who want them. The background music is enjoyable and not at all intrusive, and the sound effects are also good.

The manual is excellent. It has a very short and simple installation section, which should be ample for most installations. In the unlikely event that you do have a problem there is a reasonably detailed Trouble Shooting Section which includes a number of ways you can contact VIE for assistance.

All in all this is a very good game. The graphics and sounds are well done, the puzzles are just hard enough to make you think but not so hard as to be tedious. The characters are all well rounded and funny.

This game is well worth buying!