I remember thinking several years ago how cool it would be to have a massive game that included Cartoon Network characters. At the time though, it probably wouldn’t have been done very well considering what it would have taken. Even now, thinking of a game developed and published by Cartoon Network might scare a few.
Furthermore, the aspect of it being an MMO has caused several to completely dismiss the title. After all, when there is a plethora of free and other MMO-type games springing up everywhere since the beginning of the year, how does FusionFall distinguish itself?
For starters, there’s the story that seamlessly integrates the characters, making their inclusion feasible in the seemingly separate universes. Though the explanation is simply “this is Earth and everyone is here,” it works well enough and doesn’t really ask you to ponder on the thought any further. Planet Fusion has arrived near Earth and the evil leader Fuse is trying to take over the world like he and his minions have done to several other planets. Dexter, boy genius, who now, much like the rest of the characters, is older than when we saw him last, begins the process of gathering heroes and willing volunteers to battle Fuse and save the Earth.
Things kick off with you preparing for your first mission. Dexter and his A.I. robot Computress are setting the time machine to help you get to the point you are most needed to help the “resistance.” This is also where you will customize your character. The amount of customization is sort of limited at the beginning. You can change the hair style, hair color, eyes, and then the various options for your clothing all with a very heavy anime feel to it.
After going through the steps of character creation, Dexter continues preparing you for the mission, but then another character starts popping up in the background of the hologram: Dexter’s sister Dee Dee. Playing true to fashion, Dee Dee pushes a button right at the time you are teleported and messes things up. Upon arriving in the future, you are greeted by Numbuh Five (Kids Next Door) and Ben Tennyson (Ben 10: Alien Force). After finding out what is currently going on, there’s a short tutorial for the controls of your character. Actually, most of the beginning part acts as a tutorial, thus describing the things you will need to accustom yourself with in order to become a champion of FusionFall.
As one might expect from an MMO game, there are a lot of “accept this mission for this reward” mechanics. Various Cartoon Network characters will give you missions to carry out in order to progress the story along. Each mission not only gives you experience known as Fusion Matter, a substance that will enable you to acquire Nanos, cute little flying versions of the characters, there are also occasional missions that will grant you Taros, money, and various other items that you might need. The Nanos themselves serve another purpose other than just a pixie version of your favorite characters. They are linked to your character’s level; if you have three of them, then your character is at level three. Up to 36 Nanos can be collected, and they will also grant you various abilities while they are active or they will help you fight against whatever adversary you are facing at the time. There are several Nanos that you can get like Buttercup (The Power Puff Girls,) Numbuh Two (Kids Next Door,) Aku (Samurai Jack), and even Ed, Edd, and Eddy. Each of the Nanos can travel visibly with your character before their timed health bars are drained and they have to rest. You can access up to three of the Nanos at time, which should enable you to create a well-rounded balance in the abilities you will have.
The Nanos won’t be enough, however, in your fight against Fuse and his monsters, you need weapons as well. You start out with a weapon blaster for long range attacks. Soon thereafter you will receive an energy sword for more melee-oriented combat. While occasionally you will receive weapons after missions, you will still need to visit the shops provided by Dexter’s robot throughout the areas. As a bit of caution, don’t start pining over the items in the stores until you have acquired several Taros, because the beginning price of anything is 1,000 Taros. In addition to weapons, there are also healing items, although you may not need the healing items due to the health recharging mechanic in the game. As long as you aren’t taking damage, you aren’t dying.
Of course, there will also be instances that you won’t be able to handle as easily by yourself, and what would an MMO be without the option to party up? You and up to three other friends can join forces to complete the missions. Though you will have to ensure that you are all together, get too far apart and you may disband. Aside from the partying up with friends and other players, you can also trade items amongst other players. This system can be both very useful and a bit cumbersome due to the lack of items some may want to trade.
The biggest thing that separates this MMO from the traditional ones is the platforming element added to the gameplay. Even though most of the platforming gameplay is simple jumping from one point to the other to progress in the mission, this addition to the genre increases the variety of actions you will be able to perform. In fact, you’ll find yourself just as frustrated with these platforming missions as any normal platformer.
Graphically, FusionFall does an excellent job at reimagining most of the Cartoon Network characters into a teenage anime version of themselves. The only exceptions to the reimagining were Samurai Jack, Ben Tennyson, and the imaginary friends from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends; they look the same as we find them on their respective programs. Aside from the characters, the environments really drive home the look and feel of the locations. Even though they look very reminiscent of PS2 era games, the environments accurately represent some of the more memorable locations from the shows like, Piney Oaks, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and the tree house of the Kids Next Door.
The voice over work in FusionFall is also a contributing factor to this game being as good as it is. The original voice actors reprise their roles and really help to capture the nature of the characters. Even though they made them a little older sounding, it is reminiscent enough to ensure you know exactly who the character is even if they look slightly different than before. One of my only complaints against this game is that the score plays so often that it becomes repetitive.
FusionFall is great for fans of the cartoons on Cartoon Network. This is a great way to get in to the mindset of playing an MMO. Having the anime feel and characters that you know and love is an added bonus. It’s not every day that you can play around inside an animated universe.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
The graphics have a strong resemblance to the PS2 early days, but the stylized characters and distinct environments mapped out help it excel in this department. 3.8 Control
They are a little spaced out on the keyboard, but for standard interaction it is spot on. Even using the various gamepads work great. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Even though the music can get repetitive in certain areas, having the voice actors from the show provide the voices really help Fusion Fall feel more connected with the audience playing. 4.1 Play Value
Nearly all of the glory of a traditional MMO, several platforming aspects, and a plethora of Cartoon Network favorites makes this title a perfect introduction to the genre for anyone. 4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.