Whatever happened to the Toonstruck sequel?

No, seriously, I’m asking. What gives? It was teased by the current rightsholder, then apparently just dropped and forgotten. At least, that’s how it seems.

Maybe I should backtrack, in case you don’t know what Toonstruck is. Because, even as popular as it once was, mentioning it still seems to draw some quizzical glances.

Toonstruck was a late-golden-era (1996) graphic adventure game created by Burst Entertainment, a company made up of a bunch of adventure gaming veterans (the one I’m most familiar with is artist Bil Skirvin, who had previously been at Sierra On-Line). They sunk everything they had — and then some — into developing Toonstruck, their first — and, as it would turn out, only — product.

The production values are really second-to-none. You’ve got fully animated cartoon fun in the style of 1930’s Warner Bros. cartoons, voiced by industry veterans like Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson), Tress MacNeille (Mom from Futurama), and Frank Welker (every goddamn cartoon you’ve ever seen). On top of that were live acting performances by Christopher Lloyd (yes, that Christopher Lloyd!) as the protagonist, and Ben Stein from before he came out as a right-wing nutjob.

No, really. THAT Christopher Lloyd.
No, really. THAT Christopher Lloyd.

The game itself was straight-up classic point-and-click fare, which sadly led to poor sales in an era where everything that wasn’t mud-colored first-gen 3D was frowned upon.

While the game was substantially lengthy, adventure game fans would later learn that we, in fact, only got half the experience. Because of the game’s huge budget, Burst’s publisher, Virgin Interactive Entertainment, had them release the game before the entirety of it could be completed.

Despite having completed work on much of the graphics, voices, and FMV’s for the now-fabled second half of the game, Toonstruck released as basically half a game — setting itself up for a blatant sequel just before the end credits.

A sequel that never materialized.

One of the teased screenshots of the now-fabled sequel.
One of the teased screenshots of the now-fabled sequel.

Citing poor sales, Toonstruck 2 was shelved. Shortly after this story became public, the current rightsholder, Keith Arem, announced that he was planning to release Toonstruck 2 — but only if he saw enough public interest. Keith was audio director on the original game, and I have no idea how the rights to an entire game and all of its assets ended up with him, but there you go.

That was 2010. A petition was launched, it made big news urging fans to sign said petition, and a Facebook group and Twitter account (@ToonstruckTwo) was launched.

The last post on the subject on a fan-run news site is from 2011. Keith himself tweeted on the subject in 2013:

And in 2015, Toonstruck did appear on GOG.com.

But it was not the re-release that was teased. It was “just” the old CD-ROM game, now released in digital form. One could speculate that releasing it on GOG was a “dipping-the-feet” test to see if there really was substantial interest in the sequel.

Considering the warm reception the GOG release garnered, I’d say the interest was definitely still there. But word on the sequel has gone very quiet. The aforementioned Twitter account hasn’t been updated since February 2011, and the Facebook group doesn’t seem to exist anymore:

Well, poop.
Well, poop.

Speculation abounds whether Toonstruck 2 is even on Keith’s radar anymore:

And I suppose it would be easy to just ask the man himself, but what kind of magical age do you think we live in? Oh, right. One where you can totally do that.

All right, so, there’s still some rights issues to resolve. But when those one day get resolved — and no one knows how long that takes; there are lawyers involved; you’d have more luck predicting when our alien overlords land — chances are there will be a Kickstarter to support future development:

Also, Keith seems like a nice bloke:

Maybe there is still a chance we’ll get to see Christopher Lloyd pull adorable faces like this?

We can only hope.
We can only hope.

11 responses to “Whatever happened to the Toonstruck sequel?”

  1. Thanks for the article, it’s a nice update to explain where the sequel is currently at *fingers crossed*.

    1. Fingers crossed, indeed. It seems like it’s not forgotten, as I initially thought when I started writing it. πŸ™‚

  2. I really hope TS2 will be available at some point. The ending of the game leaves gamers on what is basically the worst cliffhanger ever! Sigh… Fingers crossed!

    1. I’m hoping, too. It seems to be a tiresome drag to get the rights sorted out; I don’t envy anyone who has to go through that. (That’s also the reason why we’ve never seen an official sequel to Loom, despite Brian Moriarty’s wish to make one — the rights are so tangled up, it’s nearly impossible.)

  3. Ugh seriously that’s why we’re still waiting stupid contracts

  4. “the old CD-ROM game, now released in digital form” – oo, was my CD-ROM analogue format then, like cassettes of old? lol

    1. Probably should have written “downloadable form.” πŸ˜†

  5. Ugh its 2019 now and still no news right? the chances are running slimmer by the day, has keith made any sort of update yet?

    1. Haven’t heard anything yet. It seems to be a slow process.

  6. Has anyone seen any news on TS 2 lately? Toonstruck’s one of my favourite adventure games, and now it’s 2021…

  7. I hope something happens with this, especially since this year in October it’ll be the 25th anniversary of the original game’s release. I spoke with Charles Cecil recently, as I noticed his name in the special thanks credits on the game, and he says the only involvement he had in Toonstruck was providing the code for the hand icons (the white gloves for pick up, walk to etc…) which are the exact same ones used in the first 2 Broken Sword games. He said Richard Hare and David Bishop who were the lead designers and writers of the game are the best people to contact about the development and on the 2nd half/sequel content, he said Richard moved back to Scotland a few years ago.

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