You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fusion Fall

There's been something of a gold rush for free browser-based, kid-friendly online games recently, particularly from cable networks like Nickelodeon and Disney. Cartoon Network enters that mix dramatically with "Fusion Fall."

There’s recently been something of a gold rush for free browser-based, kid-friendly online games, particularly from cable networks like Nickelodeon and Disney. Cartoon Network enters that mix dramatically with “FusionFall,” a “World of Warcraft”-lite game that’s the first one to approach the quality, playability and potential for mass appeal of its older-skewing brethren. Though the tastes of pre-teen boys are as fickle online as on the air, “FusionFall” is sure to grab its target aud’s attention and, if it’s well supported and marketed, could even turn into a solid business of its own.

It’s evident Cartoon Network spared no muscle in creating this free, kid-friendly Web-based extension to its on-air lineup. Rather than try to mash together or directly reproduce the stylistically variant worlds in its various shows (as Nickelodeon does with its far-less-gamelike “Nicktropolis”), “FusionFall” is a wholly original, story-driven world in which everyone from the Powerpuff Girls to Dexter to Samurai Jack is reimagined as sincere, anime-inspired heroes who look cool but maintain many of their trademark quirks. The Kids Next Door see their treehouse fort translated as a surreal floating island, for instance, while obnoxious bugger Eddy (minus cohorts Ed and Edd) assigns missions from a cardboard fortress that helps fend off the monsters.

As in most massively multiplayer online (MMO) games based on licenses, players create unique characters, in this case kids armed with time-traveling powers and laser blasters. They get missions from Cartoon Network icons, who pump kids’ egos by stressing how much the future of the world depends on them. Players can collect miniature versions of TV personalities, called “nanos,” which offer players unique abilities.

Where “FusionFall” differs from the traditional run-and-quest MMOs it otherwise resembles is the incorporation of action elements, often requiring the player to jump floating platforms, ride zip lines or use gadgets to traverse the environment. These would benefit by being more intuitive; the learning curve alongside the 3-D view and keyboard-mouse scheme feels challenging at first. But overall, it’s a clever, subtle way to break up the long town-to-town jogs that missions often require.

The rest of the gameplay is fairly linear and mission based. Initially players arrive in a futuristic area and are tasked with several quests involving assembling a time machine. If they want to continue to the present or past, however, they have to become paying subscribers. “FusionFall” manages to walk this always precarious line between encouraging subscriptions and annoying nonpaying players fairly deftly, offering a considerable amount of free content without any advertising. Nonetheless, it’s designed smoothly enough that many kids are sure to bug their parents for a credit card in order to enjoy more content and pick up the “nanos” and other collectibles.

Navigation in general could be a little more intuitive, but the learning curve is all-ages-appropriate. Similarly, combat requires nothing more complex than aiming with the mouse and clicking away — which gets tedious, so it’s good that missions only occasionally require players to slay beasts with clever, toonish names like “Painsaw” and “Verminator.”

Game’s weakest element comes in the “multiplayer” part of the MMO formula. Though the already well-populated gameworld is enjoyable, social utilities for chat, grouping up and listing buddies are minimal and feel like distractions since they necessitate pausing the gameplay. Unlike the many online games that strongly encourage teaming up and making friends, there’s no reason to communicate with other players in “FusionFall.” Though opening up those avenues to kids can be tricky, Cartoon Network plays things so safe that it’s to the detriment of an otherwise innovative videogame.

Fusion Fall

Free/$5.95 per month

Production: A Cartoon Network presentation of a game developed by Cartoon Network and Grigon Entertainment for the PC.

More Digital

  • Sirius Logo

    SiriusXM Unveils $8 Essential Plan for Consumers Without Cars

    SiriusXM wants to cater consumers without cars, or cars without compatible stereos, with a new $8 plan for mobile and in-home listening. Dubbed SiriusXM Essential, the plan offers access to 200+ channels featuring the network’s entire music programming, as well comedy, news and select sports channels. Consumers will be able to test the new plan [...]

  • Mueller Report Book Editions Top Amazon's

    Mueller Report Book Editions Shoot to Top of Best-Seller Lists at Amazon, Barnes & Noble

    Robert Mueller is now a best-selling author. Book publishers’ forthcoming editions of the special counsel’s report zoomed to the top of the Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s lists of book best-sellers Friday. That comes a day after the report was publicly released, culminating the nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election [...]

  • Marques Brownlee - Retro Tech

    YouTube Orders Marques Brownlee 'Retro Tech' Original Series

    YouTube has turned to one of its homegrown stars — technology vlogger Marques Brownlee, aka “MKBHD” — for its newest original series. The video platform has greenlit series “Retro Tech” featuring Brownlee, in which he’ll unbox and review vintage technology products that have defined pop culture. The show, slated to debut in December 2019, follows [...]

  • Netflix Tests Random Episode Button in

    Netflix Starts Testing Random Episode Button

    Netflix is testing a button to play random episodes of select TV shows, the company confirmed Friday morning. “We are testing the ability for members to play a random episode from different TV series on the Android mobile app,” a Netflix spokesperson told Variety. “These tests typically vary in length of time and by region, [...]

  • Netflix Our Planet Sophie Darlington

    Netflix's 'Our Planet' Roars to Life With Work by Top Wildlife Cinematographers

    In terms of scope, production time and — very likely — budget, Netflix’s “Our Planet” is one of the most ambitious projects from the streaming service to date. Narrated by David Attenborough and made available worldwide on April 5, the goal of the eight-part series is to capture diverse habitats across the globe and highlight [...]

  • Amazon

    Amazon Music’s Free Tier Is More Advertising Play Than Spotify Killer, Analysts Say

    When news began to spread last week that Amazon Music’s long-anticipated free streaming tier was imminent, headlines emerged about its threat to Spotify and Apple Music, with some stories saying that Spotify’s stock price dropped in response to the news. But not only was today’s launch of the free tier basically a soft one — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content