Rory Galvin takes a trip down memory lane with baby’s first World of Warcraft: Cartoon Network’s Fusionfall.
Some games are entirely fuelled by nostalgia, even from the outset of their release. No matter the actual quality, the rose-tinted glasses will always leave good memories. I played Cartoon Network Universe: Fusionfall (mostly just known as Fusionfall) for the first time over ten years ago now, on my family’s home computer that ran on Windows Vista. Fusionfall is definitely one of those games that is backed up by that warm, nostalgic feeling, but if you know, you know.
Imagine the year is 2009, and in between episodes of Chowder and Ben 10 were advertisements for a game that would absolutely blow your mind. I first saw the world of Fusionfall from these epic cinematic ads on TV; did they look anything like the actual game? Of course not, but it got kids like me interested and later on completely hooked.
Fusionfall is an online MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game) made by Grigon Entertainment, a Korean developer following the huge trend of popular multiplayer games left in the wake of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. The general premise is that the world has been taken over by some evil alien called Lord Fuse, and it’s up to you, your friends and a huge showcase of Cartoon Network characters to fight back and stop the invasion. There really isn’t any other plot, but there was no need for one - the magic of being in that living world was more than good enough.
Playing Fusionfall is like any other MMO, but dumbed down for a younger audience. There is a very basic combat and gear system, where you mostly focus on wearing stuff with the higher number, and choosing which 3 abilities you want on you during a fight. It’s kind of like going back to an old Pokémon game and realising that it’s too easy, but Fusionfall shines elsewhere. It has a weird vibe - the developer went with an anime-inspired art style to make everything feel uniform, and once you get used to some of the strange character design choices it works quite well. I can be in the Cul De Sac from Ed, Edd and Eddy, talk to the purple monster Eduardo from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, take a flying Mojo Jojo monkey to my next destination, and somehow it all fits. Another thing with the art style is its reliance on cel-shaded graphics to give things a more cartoonish look, and for a game made to run on computers considered ancient by our standards, it kind of holds up.
For an MMO, it has the depth of a paddling pool, but when I was ten years old it felt so fulfilling to level up, use stronger weapons, and explore new areas... it was my first experience with an MMO, and I loved every second of it.
There are so many memories I have attached to the world of Fusionfall. Getting home from school and booting up the game while I’m still in my uniform, upgrading gear to my level just because they look cool, or even staring at the beautiful key art on the loading screen. For an MMO, it has the depth of a paddling pool, but when I was ten years old it felt so fulfilling to level up, use stronger weapons, and explore new areas - only after doing about 500 fetch quests. Despite how repetitive it could get, it was my first experience with an MMO, and I loved every second of it.
Unfortunately, Fusionfall was a bit of a flop despite the huge amount of people playing it (chalk it up to mismanagement, the developer going bankrupt, and no actual paid element in the game), and the servers were shut in 2014. For a long time, I thought I would only have memories left of the game, but multiple dedicated fans came together to bring the charming MMO back and now it’s here to stay. Well, unless Cartoon Network’s lawyers hear about it. Let’s hope they don’t find this article.