It’s a Looney Tunes and Scooby Doo world! Created by Warner Brothers, Cartoon Universe (due to launch in the fall) is an MMO aimed at kids aged 6 – 10. Built on the Unity engine, Cartoon Universe is web browser based and available to kids for free, with premium content behind the velvet rope of micro-transactions and subscriptions.
The premium content is billed as episodes and it is possible for kids to win one-use tickets to the episodes as they play games in the free part of the world. Kids will interact with characters from both Looney Tunes and the Scooby Doo franchises such as Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Marvin Martian, Wile E. Coyote, and of course Scooby Doo.
As kids wander around this cartoon world, they will run across arcade machines and access them to play different games. Games are random and range from simple puzzles and match 3 games to shooters and more complicated puzzles that get harder with each level you reach. Rewards are coin, clothing items as well as episode tickets, and are always provided as a choice. Many of the games are also multiplayer co-op with as many as 4 in the party, and there is also the ability to challenge a friend. I saw an amusing game which required you to move a woolly sheep around Velcro obstacles. The goal of course was to rescue it without losing all its wool. Some games even go up to boss level, and each time your character levels in the game, the boss levels get harder.
It may be for kids, but just like a Looney Tunes cartoon, comic mischief, violence and mayhem is just around the corner in the Cartoon Universe MMO. During the demo, my character stepped off the curb to cross the street and was flattened by two busses (that did make me blink in surprise). Of course I popped up again – just like in the cartoons and continued on my way, made whole again, albeit a little wobbly on my feet. Wile E. Coyote gets blown up with dynamite, Sylvester the cat gets whacked with a mallet by Tweety Bird in Looney Tunes so you can fully expect the same to happen to your characters.
Cartoon Universe will be fully voiced and kids will be able to view little movies with their characters in them in the classic Looney Tunes style. The usual kid-friendly privacy practices will be observed and parents can decide if they want to allow their kids access to menu-only chat or open chat which is dependent on a white list of words. Regardless, chat will be monitored 24/7 and the usual tools will be available for reporting bad behavior, making up friends lists as well as ignore lists. The game is currently in Open Beta at http://na.cartoonuniverse.com/en so, give it a whirl. Otherwise, in Porky Pig’s voice, “Ibbledy-ibbledy-ibbeldy-th-that’s all folks!”