FusionFall is Turner’s foray into the Children’s MMOG market. Following the success of Disney’s ToonTown Online, we’ve seen several other MMOs emerge in the past couple of years that are targeted not just at children, but at families. Today’s children are digital natives and often learn to “keyboard” as soon as they learn to read. So what is FusionFall about?
It is a dive into the Cartoon Network World. A grand adventure for kids to save the world and interact and assist their favorite Cartoon Network characters. A 3-D MMO with FPS and Platformer gameplay aspects built into it. You’ve been sent into a future world – malfunction in Dexter’s lab, don’cha know? And horror of horrors, a rogue planet, planet Fusion is dropping goopy wads of Fuse that’s corrupting the world. Wave after wave of Fusion spawn is invading and it is up to you, young adventurer, to save the world! Combat Fusion in the city, the ‘burbs and the wilds. Soon, you will be experienced enough to delve into the Darklands where the corruption first took root and is strongest. Along the way, you will meet Cartoon Network characters from the Power Puff Girls, Samurai Jack and Ben 10.
Graphics & Sound
FusionFall is a modified browser game. Players have to install the Unity 3-D engine that’s described as “Flash-like” technology. Content streams in the background while you play but some files do get installed on your computer and depending on your computer specs, it may take a few minutes to install and download before you can begin playing.
For a browser based game, the graphics are really quite beautiful. In order to create a uniform graphical style for the game, the characters from popular Cartoon Network programs have been re-imagined in anime style. It has a cel-shaded comic-book graphic look. The only thing you might miss is the how far you can see in the world as the draw distance is not great. It’s an immediate world, with characters running to battle, avoiding the green ooze on contaminated ground as it can hurt. The camera follows you “over the shoulder” and all you need to know to get the job done, you can see.
There isn’t much music in game, but ambient sounds and voice-overs are plentiful. Cartoon Network has gotten 90% of the original voice actors to provide the voice-overs in game, so even if your favorite character doesn’t quite look the same, he’s going to sound the same.
Remembering that it’s a kid’s game, the objectives are simple. You are battling aliens and start off with a simple laser gun. Then you improve your gun, gain others and you improve your outfit, which serves are your armor. You can have two weapons equipped at a time, and swap them out easily. Along the way, you will gain Nanos – which are miniatures of Cartoon Network characters and assist you in your battles. In a delightful Stone, Paper, Scissors manner, you can have three Nanos to call upon when you battle monsters. Calling upon the right Nano to defeat your opponent is part of the combat equation and you can put one nano away and call on another.
The game is designed to play with keyboard and mouse or game controller, and the conventions are familiar. WASD to move, and left click to do about everything else. To trade with someone, offer to group or interact with an NPC. So it’s easy to accidentally open up a trade window with someone when a group of players are clustered around the Quest NPC.
It is a transport friendly world and as you travel, you find transporter and way (warp) points, flight stations (Monkey Skyways, Sliders and S.C.A.M.P.E.R), jump pads (remember – platformer) and zip lines – which is a pretty cool way to get from one level to another, moving platforms and sidewalks, and launchers which look like big cannons. You don’t take any falling damage and can “run” and navigate while in the air to get to where you need to go once you’ve launched yourself from the jump pad.
The game is strictly PvE and you gain experience only by performing quests, not by killing monsters, although most quests are kill quests. There are some quest variations in game. Some require you to traverse a series of platforms like a maze, another is a race to clean up an infected zone by collecting fusion pods.
Your character doesn’t “die” in FusionFall. It gets knocked out and you either revive at a respawn point, or if you have a Nano with the capability, can choose to revive in the field. In the first case, the only thing you lose is some time traveling back to your chosen battleground and in the second, some reduced health.
The currency of this world is Taros (gold), which is needed to buy things like potions or pay for Warps or Flights, Fusion Matter which is required for Nanos and you can get power ups and C.R.A.T.E.s – Contains Really Awesome Things for Everyone which are in the shape of a crate, and find Coco Eggs which can contain power ups and C.R.A.T.Es.
Kid-friendly, Security & Parental Controls
It’s a kid’s world as designers wanted kids to feel that they are running things, so the only parental role models you will find in the world are characters from the programs themselves. Avatars are designed in the same anime style and there are few choices of head / hair / clothing for customization. Name creation is a three part affair and the chat filter is a rigorous combination of a real time “naughty word” filtering tool which removes the naughty word, Real time Chat monitoring with context analysis which can alert GMs to where a conversation could be heading to and allow live monitoring; Chat monitoring with relationship analysis which is the long term component and will take place over days, weeks and months. Everything will be logged and the real time analysis means that whenever red flags are thrown up by the system, appropriate action can be taken by the GMs.
The usual parental controls are in place that allow parents to limit their kids to in-game menu chat, forum access, etc. The game is designed to be played in 20 minute chunks and after about an hour, the game play begins to degrade and after two, the xp slow down is very noticeable.
The Fun Factor
Is it fun? Well, are you a kid mad for the Cartoon Network world? There are plenty of missions and storylines for the kids. They can go nuts collecting every single one of the Nanos. Kids enjoy that kind of thing. Simple objectives, collecting stuff and a world with their favorite characters. For a parent, this may be a game you’d enjoy playing with your children. I got bored pretty quickly as the novelty wore off and the game play degradation got annoying.
FusionFall gives you your first 4 levels free and you can get a pretty good grasp of the gameplay from that, so don’t just take my word for it, give it a shot. It might prove to be a fun distraction from grinding xp or running that mission yet again because you still haven’t been lucky on a loot roll.