Disney’s Toontown Online is an incredibly fun and complex online game for the kids. It’s fun for grownups, too, so it’s a great activity to do together with your kids. I enjoy playing Toontown with my two sons, helping them to earn jellybeans so that they can purchase items in the game and to complete Toontasks, which help them to earn valuable perks for their Toon character. Jellybeans are the currency of Toontown. You can earn jellybeans by playing games on the trolley in the playgrounds, by fishing in the various ponds that are spread throughout the Toontown universe, or by completing ToonTasks. Fish can be sold to the local Pet Shop in the area.
All you have to do to play Toontown is to create a free account on the site, and download the software to your computer and install it. However, the free account has limited access within the game, so if you want complete access to all the fun you will have to purchase a subscription. The most economical option is the yearly subscription, which is $79.95 per year. That only comes up to $6.66 per month, which I figure is a bargain. This year I purchased a subscription for my son as a gift for his seventh birthday. It gives him hours of fun, provides an incentive to do his responsibilities, and doesn’t contribute to the clutter in our home.
When your child first logs onto Toontown, he automatically goes to Toontown Central, which is the main playground in Toontown. He begins the Toontorial, which helps him to learn how to use the game. He is told about the Cogs, which are horrible robotic creatures who stalk the streets of Toontown. Cogs care about one thing only; cash. When they invade Toontown in sufficient numbers, they begin to take over the pretty and fun Toon buildings, making them into ugly, grey Cog buildings. Then, when enough Toons have congregated at a Cog building, they can join forces to defeat it and restore it to its former Toon glory.
The Cogs are strong, but they have one weakness. They can’t take a joke. So the Toons in Toontown can use their jellybeans to purchase gags in Goofy’s Gag Shop to play tricks on the Cogs, and defeat them. When enough gags have been expended on the Cogs, they get mad and blow up, and bother Toontown no more.
Each Toon also receives a Schticker Book, which contains useful tools to help you get around Toontown. There are maps, teleport tools, a gag record, a Toontask record, a gag training film track, a Cog gallery, a fishing album, a Kart Kustomizer to help you alter your vehicle you use on Goofy Speedway. You can also track your SOS Toons and gardening skills in the Schticker Book. Also, there is one page that is exclusively for paid subscribers. Cog Disguise is only of use to Toons who can get to the various Cog Headquarters, which are at the ends of various streets in Toontown. You won’t see this option until you have gained some skill and experience in the game.
In order to have a lot of fun in Toontown, you and your child must work to gain experience and points within the game. For example, each time your Toon character attacks a Cog with a gag, he or she gains experience using that type of gag. Then, the next time that gag is used, it will be more effective against the Cog is it thrown at. Each gag you use deducts a certain number of points from the Cog’s health score. For example, a lower level gag will deduct only 5 points, whereas a higher level gag will deduct 25. When the Cog’s health is good, a badge on his chest glows green, but when it begins to decline, the badge reddens and begins to blink. This helps you and your child to know how to strategically attack the Cog to effectively defeat him.
There are four types of Cogs: Cashbots, Lawbots, Sellbots and Bossbots. They are in different levels, from one up to ten, and the higher the level of the Cog, the harder he is to defeat. The two highest levels of Cogs are found only in Cog buildings, but the lower level Cogs out on the street can cause you serious trouble. Every time a Cog’s counterattack hits you, you lose Laff Points from your Laff meter, and if it gets all the way to zero, you will become sad, the Cogs will take all your gags, and your Toon will be teleported automatically back to the playground. You may not leave the playground again until you are happy again. Then you must refill your Laff meter by playing on the playground, picking up treats like ice cream cones, snowflakes, starfish or flowers, depending on which playground you’re on. Your Laff meter will also be refreshed every time you turn in a completed Toontask to the officers in Toontown Headquarters, or to the many merchants in the businesses on the streets of Toontown.
All Toons area also given an estate, even the ones with a free account. Your estate has a house, trees, a fishing pond, furniture, and a telephone.
Other Toons can visit you at your estate and play with you there. You must be present on your estate for your friends to visit you there, and they must be present at their estate for you to visit them. All of the other Toons in Toontown are actual computer users, whereas the clerks, officers, Cogs and other characters are computer generated. One fun thing about Toontown is that your children can make up to 50 friends in the game, and chat with their friends either through Speedchat, or through a standard chat program. In order to use the standard chat form, your child must be a paid subscriber of Toontown. Then your child must select True Friends in order to chat with them in this manner. In order for your child to make True Friends, he must generate True Friends codes under his account, and then pass them along to the people he wants to befriend. The codes are good for two days only, then they expire.
You can control whether or not your child makes True Friends in Toontown. One concern I have is that there are many adults playing in Toontown. In fact, there are websites devoted specifically to adult players of Toontown, such as donaldsdock.com. This was inevitable, since Disney worked so hard to make the game just as fun for grown-ups as it is for kids. I mean, I’m not a kid any more, and yet I have to say this is one of the most fun and addictive games I’ve ever played. While many of the adults playing Toontown are parents like me, many of them may be dangerous to our children. For that reason I set it up so that my children were restricted from making True Friends without my express permission and password.
Really, your child doesn’t need True Friends in Toontown, and the chat function is far too risky. It opens up the child to naively providing sensitive information to a potentially dangerous person, including his real name, address and phone number. The Speedchat function is more than adequate for communicating with his friends in the game, and your child can purchase additional Speedchat phrases in the Cattlelog when he earns more jellybeans from his activities.
One of the things I dislike most about Toontown is it can be a little difficult to get around. The Shticker Book maps are not detailed enough to help a Toon find the individual buildings he needs to go to to complete many of his Toontasks. However, there are many online resources available so that you don’t have to create your own maps. There are some excellent maps posted on the Toontask.com forums. These maps even tell you which types of Cogs frequents which streets, show the businesses where you generally need to turn in Toontasks, and the location of all the other businesses in Toontown streets, along with a numbered directory. You have to register for a free account in order to view and post to the forums. The maps are animated gifs which can take up a lot of memory and cause Toontown to malfunction. Also I’ve found that keeping Toontown windowed rather than full screen can cause problems. So I recommend that you save the maps to your hard drive and then print them out, so that you can refer to them as you work in Toontown. These maps will save you an incredible amount of time and energy finding the right Cogs to defeat, and finding the buildings to turn in your ToonTasks.
There are many places to get new Toontasks. You can get them at Headquarters in any playground or street, or at many of the businesses around Toontown where you hand in completed Toontasks. You can also get new Toontasks at Toon Hall in Toontown Central, or go to any headquarters in any neighborhood.