It was September 2014, on a Friday. My new game had come. I’d been waiting to play this one since I was young. Stay Tooned by Funnybone Entertainment and Sierra Online. Maybe not the most recognized game, but a good game from what I’d seen on Youtube. Deserved more credit. Schmooze, Scoops, Fiddle, and most memorable of all, Pixel and Chisel.
Just needed to verify the info there.
To Wise Old Al
5555 S Writers Bluff
From Game Scenter “Sniffing out the best deals”
1337 N Hunter Brook
***You qualify for a SUPER BONUS!***
Super bonus? I definitely, positively didn’t know what this was. In fact, it wasn’t there. I checked every square inch of the package, and all I saw was the game disk, and a note.
SUPER BONUS will be after you complete the game.
Why had I ordered from here again? Oh, right, the fact that it cost about 5 dollars and had free shipping. Just had to cross my fingers and hope this ran on the old computer.
[Error: Needs 8.68 GB free and built in camera to run SUPER BONUS. Try a newer computer!]
Ok, that was not a normal error message. Had someone altered the game? Was I doing something that was not only illegal, but also potentially hazardous to my computer? What was this about?
Just in case, I set my phone out for recording.
“Hi, I’m Wise Old Al, and this is a Let’s play of Stay Tooned. Sorry about the setup, I’ll try to get better footage next time.” I started.
I was lying and I knew it. But what could I tell them? It’d just sound crazy.
“So, um, let me get the game going.” I continued ”This one was advertised as having a “Super Bonus” so I’m going to show that off. You can watch a more thorough playthrough elsewhere.”
Why did I use air quotes there, anyway? Eh, whatever. I just needed to find the lab, and then I could get going.
Room 2B, that key in the island painting, and then off to explore.
First room, Old west. Second room, Greasy diner. Third room, Casino.
Wait. I could use this. There was a small chance of getting the remote from here, after all. Just needed to spin long enough, and I’d be at the end game.
Come on, no whammies!
“YES!” I shouted, then stopped, worried that my family might hear. Oh, right, they were out at the moment.
The remote was right there. That was pretty easy. Ok, now zap the toons into the TV again, and I could see just what this Super Bonus was.
“The ending cinematics suggest that a sequel was in the works, but I guess they couldn’t get the whole thing going.” I rambled.
Now I point the phone at the screen, just in case.
“Anyway, he gets turned into a toon in their home, and then it’s the credits.” I summarized.
No? What was happening?
My phone had been charging, thank goodness. I picked it up and started recording the car entering the area, the toons swerving towards the screen, and HOLY MINCE, A HAND OUT OF THE COMPUTER SCREEN!
I hid under the desk, aiming my phone at me. What on or out of earth was happening?
“Did you see what I saw there, or am I hallucinating?” I asked the camera. “Because I saw-”
A voice from the computer interrupted me with “Jeez, Alex, you jumpy or something?”
I had entered my name into the game as Ace.
“How do you know my name?” I asked the computer, from under the desk.
Then I realized that the characters were speaking to me.
“Schmooze?” I said aloud, standing up for a second.
I ducked immediately after, avoiding the four hands that were grabbing at me. I knew those hands. All too well. Those were the hands of the cartoons.
“Someone explain what’s happening!” I said, desperately.
After a while, Fiddle spoke up. “The animators said something about a new contract! Did you look through the Readme File?”
To be blunt? No!
“Fiddle, it’s 2015! No one has looked at the Readme File of a game for 19 years!” I shouted back, over the sound of my desk being ruined by wayward cartoon hands.
Following this, a slip of paper was tossed out into my lap.
Note: This special version of the game is to be given to someone willing to accept the responsibility of legal ownership of 5 cartoons, as follows.
- Pixel Manx
- Chisel Manx
- Schmooze the St. Bernard
- Scoops the Bloodhound
- and Fiddle the Cat
Installation and completion of this game is interpreted as accepting the contract.
“I got this at a game store, so that means that-” I started.
I stopped. That’s why this game was so cheap. One of the game developers sent this to me!
“And no one’s looking for you?” I asked, hoping to hear something.
Pixel was next to respond. “Does it matter? You accepted!”
“Alright, but no one pull me into the game! I’ve got a life, you know!” With that, I stood up and extended my hands, bracing against the chair for support.
With a loud pop not unlike a balloon, all five characters fell out, landing in a heap at my feet.
“OK, I need to hide this from my parents, and most people in general.” I explained, mostly to gather my thoughts “Can you imagine the reaction I’d get if someone saw cartoons in the real world?”
Fiddle raised his hand.
“That was rhetorical, Fiddle.” I said, facepalming.
“Actually, I was going to say that most studios do it that way.” Fiddle said.
I froze. That was impossible, wasn’t it? If that was the case, you could pick up the secrets at an auction or-
My grandfather! He’d bid on a Disney auction and won some stuff. He seemed like the type to have that sort of thing in his collection. And, in one of those contrived coincidences that seem too strange too be true, he lived at that exact address.
“We need to visit my grandfather.” I realized, speaking to myself again. “But not now! My parents are coming back from their dinner date soon, and my sister is going to have friends over at that time. You need to stay hidden.”
This apparently meant “Go and sneak off while I’m thinking” to most of the toons. Fiddle was the only one remaining when I turned back around.
“Well, then.” I paused. “New plan. Fiddle, make some sort of safe spot in my bedroom. It’s the room with all the bookshelves in it. I’ll track down our miscreants.”
Fiddle nodded, and ran off. Meanwhile, I started in the one area I knew would be impossible for a toon to resist: The kitchen. I arrived just in time to meet a Lemon Meringue head-on, and ducked into the mudroom to wash off and plan my next move.
The air was thick with flying sweets, being thrown by Pixel and Chisel at each other. Every so often, an explosion would ring out, no doubt from a bomb that Chisel had put in his ammo.
If I was getting out of this, I needed to outthink these guys and get them to Fiddle, and also find a way to clean up the mess.
Fortunately, I knew just what to do.
I let out a quick whistle, which attracted Scoops on the scene. Classic cartoon logic. Once he saw the food, he started heading after it, intercepting pies like a champ.
“The hey?” Pixel said, letting down her guard to focus on hitting her brother.
That’s when I swept her up in my fleece jacket.
Manning the now-open Pie turret on the counter, I focused at the fridge, and let fly towards the ammo pile Chisel was using just as he inserted a bomb into the next round. The blast knocked him down, and soon I had both cats in a makeshift bag.
I left to drop off the two by my bedroom, leaving Scoops to get rid of the evidence in the kitchen. That’s just what dogs do. Following this, I started looking for Schmooze.
Eventually, I found him in the downstairs theatre room, watching old cartoons, and snarking at the dialogue. Thank heaven I’d picked up the pie turret, because the rope made a pretty good leash. The smell of food upstairs also helped, allowing me to lead him to the bedroom in seconds flat.
That left only Scoops, but at this point my sister and her friends came back.
I ran downstairs just in time to intercept the party. Not that there was much need. Scoops had cleared out the mess, and since he looked and acted mostly like a dog, convincing everyone that a lost dog had wandered into the house was easy enough. I asked them not to mention this to my parents, noting my mom’s distaste in pets.
Eventually, I got the dog in, and fell asleep, worn out and down for the count.
I woke up to the sound of birds chirping, and no trace of anything happening. Then I actually woke up to the sound of Chisel playing a trumpet in my ear.
“OW! For Pete’s sake, are you trying to get discovered?” I grumbled, my ears still ringing.
“Good morning to you too, Rip van Winkle.” Pixel quipped.
“How long was I out?” I muttered, looking at the clock.
9:30. Still a good night’s sleep considering what happened last night.
“You guys got a quick way to my grandfather’s place, or what?” I said, gathering myself.
“Easily done. Just hop in and brace yourself.” Schmooze said, gesturing towards a giant toon hole on the wall, behind where my bookshelves were.
One desperate trip later, I arrived at my grandfather’s, and fainted from the shock of what had happened.
When I stirred, I was inside, but not in any part of the house I recognized. This was an animation study, complete with all the whistles and bells of any self-respecting animator.
“Hey, Alex.” a familiar voice said.
I blinked. There was my grandfather, standing next to the toons I’d unleashed and not batting an eye.
“We have a lot to talk about.” he said, at the same moment I did. We chuckled, then my attention turned back to the topic at hand.
“How do you know about these guys?” I asked, still amazed at his non-reaction.
“Actually, he’s been with us for a while. He’s the one who sent us out to find someone.” Pixel explained.
“Well, not all of that is true. I only followed what the producers wanted.” Grandpa added, a bemused grin on his face.
“Ok, start from the beginning. I need all of the truth that you can give me. Where did you find these guys, Grandpa?” I asked
“Please, call me Jerry. I actually found them during a late night fling, about the same time I discovered Toons existed.” He looked out the window as he spoke.
“I decided to go with a new cast member to see if the rumors of a real Toontown were true. I’d been interested in the topic ever since Who Framed Roger Rabbit came out, you see.” He paused. “It was 1996, The 3rd of June. I remember filming it all on a video camera.”
“How did you find out? Also, how’d you escape?” I said. After all, this was the largest secret ever!
“We snuck into a secret train under Disneyland. I guess Walt really liked seeing his creations. As for my escape, I left the area the same way you left your house. By the way, most people get woozy, so fainting is no big deal.” Jerry stopped to anticipate my next question.
“But the studio needed these toons, right?” I asked.
At this, Grandpa slumped a little.
“The studio was going bankrupt. Even animation is a business at times. They wanted to sell the toons via the disk, but the people in charge wouldn’t let them.” Jerry sighed.
“Don’t tell me. The large studios wanted control, and these guys protested.” I concluded.
“They want those Toons back, and they’re going to know where to look. They’ve been monitoring the mail.” Jerry added.
“Thanks! Got to hold down the fort!” I said, heading into the hole.
I arrived at my house right before the authorities.
“Remember, these guys want you for property. I think that’s enough motivation to strike back, no?” I said, winking.
Upon getting a wink back from everyone, I answered the door, distracting them while the whole thing got set up.
The people before me were two business-like professionals, men who had no doubt been sent from the authorities.
“Sir, we’re investigating a transmission from this IP address. You posted a video of some odd computer happenings.” said the agent with black hair and a goatee.
“And you two are?” I said, nonchalantly.
“I’m Richard Benson and that’s Leon Andrews, Knights of the Loyal Inkwell.” The man speaking here looked like a Jedi, with his blond hair in a ponytail. “We’re sort of the guys in charge of cartoon affairs.”
“Well, I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean.” I said, looking nonchalant.
As they started to talk, a van pulled up, and several dark-costumed people pulled up.
“Halt! We’re not letting this just happen!” one of them said, speaking through a megaphone.
“Great, B.L.O.T. hoodlums.” Richard muttered. Hal responded by attempting to force his way in.”
“What are you doing?” I asked, suspicion in my eyes.
“Sir, if any Toons are in that house, then we have orders to come in!” Leon shouted at me, shoving me aside.
Bad move. His first step into the house triggered a giant blast, knocking him into several of the robed demonstrators.
Hal whipped out a Joy buzzer, and slapped the next guy to run towards him, scorching his suit, but not knocking him out.
“Story update, those guys are focused on the complete liberation of toons. They don’t care about ownership, only creativity, and they’ve been trying to get toons in their hands for ages.” Hal mentioned to me.
“Like you, then.” I countered. Hal flinched, and got a water hose into the face.
“Don’t be fooled, Alex! These guys work for the studio, and they’re not going to let property slip out of their grasp!” shouted one of the members.
And at that moment, things got much more personal.
“Jerry?” I said, forgetting what had happened.
“Hal, that’s the guy! The one who took the Mouse at Midnight tape!” Richard shouted, chucking a bomb back at someone who’d thrown it at him, and slapping cuffs on my Grandfather.
“Look, kid, to be frank, you’re in the middle of a bad situation. You hand us the toons, and you can all go free.” Hal said, looking me in the eye.
“You can’t keep doing this!” my grandfather shouted. “Toons have rights!”
“Rights worth taking down someone else’s property for? This is exactly what Toontown doesn’t need.” Hal retorted. “Not to mention your group’s destruction of the Warner Bros. tower.”
I looked at Jerry incredulously.
“We weren’t involved in that! All we want is for everyone to be happy.” he replied, and I knew he was telling the truth.
“Turn yourself in, old man!” Richard retorted, glaring him down.
On the one hand, there was the issue of giving the toons back to a studio that would ignore them. On the other, a group of potential extremists.
I knew what I had to do.
“You want toons? Let’s see you handle them!” I shouted, at both groups.
On cue, the house flipped up, and a cascade of all sorts of animated things spawned forth.
In the middle of the flood, I managed to get to Jerry, and a quick exchange got the handcuffs on me instead.
“You head into the house, while you still can.” I whispered to him.
“No, we fight together. I’m not letting this happen without a fight.” Jerry smiled. “No matter what, even if I defy my group, I’ll stand by you.”
“That can be arranged!” shouted a voice, and we were both face to face with another hoodless fellow.
“Name’s Fritz. I happen to be leading a much more functional part of this order.” he said, and I felt a feeling of sludge in my stomach.
“That’s the leader of the toon extremists!” Jerry said to me, and I immediately caught on.
“So, how hard was infiltrating this thing, Fritz?” I said, hoping to catch him in a monologue.
“We didn’t have that much trouble. You guys are just into the whole mask thing, huh?” He said, sneering.
“It’s a gesture of being an everyman! We’re not nutjobs like you, trying to collide humans and toons or other stuff like that!” Jerry said, indignant.
“So what’s it like having a group with no name or ID? Because if I were you, I’d call the whole group something better, like the Recombinants or something.” I paused, rolling my eyes to hide my monitoring the progress of the toon rampage.
“That’s a good name! Recombinants!” He said, distracted.
“Pity no one will remember your names or faces.” Jerry said, getting a kick in before putting on his mask.
“Easily remedied! Recombinants, masks off! No one can see in this deluge anyway.” he said, louder than he realized.
He’d also completely missed the deluge ending. Imagine a bunch of criminals revealing themselves while the real geniuses kept the hoods on!
Fritz swore revenge on me and my family. Or he just swore. It’s hard to hear somebody in the back of an armored police van.
As for the Knights, we talked them into allowing a history of the whole thing to be published, using Jerry’s assets. Thus was born Mindless Behavior, a history of cartoons!
And that’s all I have to say about the past, except for one last email.
Dear Mr Wise,
I loved your Mindless Behavior story! I mean, they’re all incredible, but that one is really good.
I was just wondering, where do you get your ideas from, anyway?
“Should we tell him?” Chisel said, looking to me.
In the time after the events, I’d become rather respected among my new friends. I guess you don’t commit to an idea of freedom without being very focused.
“Well, there’s always room for chaos. And imagination does deserve to be free!” I said, hands on the keyboard.
You want to know my ideas, huh? Well, I think I can give you a taste. New fanfics on the way.
- Wise Old Al
P.S. I have a game to recommend to you. Ever played Stay Tooned?
(This takes place in the Tooniverse of Mindless Behavior and Mouse after Midnight. Also, Stay Tooned has already been advertised, so you can go get it on Amazon. Just because it’s a fun game, that’s why. Not because I get royalties or anything. I mean, you may need an old computer, but it’s fun! Honest!
Dedicated to my Grandpa Jerry, who will always be the one who got me started on animation.
Shoutout to the real Ninja8, who got me off my keister long enough to finish this thing.)