The first thing you need to understand is this; I loved Toontown. I’d been playing it since Old Toontown; the very beginning, when the cogs had no lights, fishing didn’t exist, and toons could have all seven gag tracks. So when Toontown closed, I was devastated, and since this was back before Rewritten, or Infinite, or Fellowship, or any of the other clones, I thought I would try using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to sort of sneak my way into Toontown. This way my first mistake.
When I put toontownonline.com into the Archive’s search bar, it took me to the calender of dates. Not knowing for sure if I would be able to login, I selected a date that I was sure that I had visited Toontown on, just a few days after it’s official launch.
Well, by some stroke of luck the Archive did seem to save all of the site data, because sure enough, when I entered my login it started loading the game.
Except it didn’t take me to my character selection, it sent me to someone else’s. I didn’t think much of this, assuming it was just a glitch caused by logging in through an archive, and since the game was closed I was sure that whoever owned the account wouldn’t mind me borrowing their character for a few hours.
I clicked on the Toon in the upper left hand corner, a red dog who for some reason was missing a name display. The game quickly sent me into the Toontown Central playground, where I noticed right away that something was amiss. The Playground didn’t look like the Old Toontown playground; the paths were missing and the docks were on the pond, but it also didn’t look like New Toontown. The name tags were still orange, and I didn’t have a Schticker book. I tried to ask another character, but they didn’t respond. Remembering that I was using the archive, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to interact with any other players, as they weren’t the actual people, but the archives save of them. They would continue to do whatever their player had done that day. Looking around more, I figured that I had just clicked on the wrong date when selecting from the calendar, and I was somewhere in the middle of the early updates. Hoping that I would still be able to interact with the game itself, I headed towards the street to Donald’s Dock. I went through the tunnel, and that’s when I realized that something was very wrong, beyond any glitch with the game or problem caused by logging in through an archive.
All of the buildings were gray, but not in the way that they were when Cogs had taken them over. It was like the color had been sucked from everything but my nameless red dog, and his red clothes. It was at this point that I realised that the music was wrong; it was playing the theme from the Bossbot HQ, which I knew hadn’t been released by the date I selected.
The street was deserted except for the nameless red dog; no NPCs, no other characters, not even a Cog. Unperturbed, I walked further along the street, all the way to the tunnel to the Donald Dock street. I walked through, and things seemed to return to normal. In the distance, I could see four Toons fighting a Penny Pincher, in full color. I spotted a Flunky near me, and ran over to see if I could fight it. As I approached it, it came towards me and said,
“it’s been far too long, Toon”
I didn’t remember Cogs having this particular starting phrase, but I was too glad to be able to play to care too much. As the fight screen opened up, I saw that the red dog also had all seven gag tracks. He had even maxed out all of them. I thought back to my green duck; early in the game I had been more concerned with trying to buy a better skirt than really playing the game, and I had only gotten to about level four in each of my tracks during the first couple years.
The red dog only had higher level gags in his inventory, so I selected at fire hose despite the Flunky only being a level one Cog. Then everything went grey again. The red dog didn’t aim the hose at the Cog; instead he aimed it towards the group of Toons fighting the Penny Pincher. The jet of water hit the closest one, a yellow duck in a red shirt and white shorts, knocking him to the ground. He didn’t stand up, nor did he get teleported back to the playground. He just lay there on the ground. The other toons around him didn’t seem to notice.
At this point I was mildly freaked out, and I tried to leave the fight. The dog didn’t respond, and instead went to stand next to the Flunky. Together they walked towards the remaining three Toons, who had just finished breaking the Penny Pincher. I tried again to move the red dog, but the computer had stopped responding to my clicks. All I could do was watch as the nameless red dog and the Flunky whispered to each other in unintelligible grunts. An orange tag flashed above the red dog’s head, too quick for me to read more than the first letter: “D”.
I watched in horror as the scenery flashed faster and faster between color and gray, new and old, fuzzy and clear. I had to close my eyes as the brightness of the flashes became physically painful. When it seemed to stop, I opened them.
The gray buildings, the three Toons, and the hopefully only unconscious duck were nowhere in sight, instead replaced by what appeared to be Toontown shortly before it closed. The name tags were bright green, the Cogs had lights, and everytoon was running around, fighting Cogs, seemingly happy. Somewhat relieved by this, I was unprepared for what happened next. One final flash. The Toons that had been seconds earlier running around happy were now slumped across along the street, right where they had been when Toontown’s server stopped working. Some of them seemed to be decomposing, and a few even had bones visible through decomposed fur. The Cogs were standing but stooped over. Their lights were off and had cracks running through them, their suits were rusted, and oil was leaking from them. Gears had fallen of a few, and one was even surrounded by a pile of gears. The street was dirty and dusty, and falling bricks littered the street. A single butterfly was flying through, a stark contrast to the disarray on the street. One of the Fishermen was standing on the side of the road, frozen in place, a blank look on his face. The only living Toon on the street.
Except for red dog and the Flunky. The red dog turned to the Flunky, and said,
“Far too long.”
His name tag flashed again.
My computer crashed then, and since that day, the Archive doesn’t allow anyone to visit Toontown. Perhaps it’s for the best.