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The adventures of Rusa in Toontown (the fifth instalment)

It happened.

In the “The present state of Toontown” section of the first instalment, I said this:

Much of the reason for writing this journal now is to play TTR before a certain update drops, which will be altering some core game mechanics in ways that are controversial for reasons that I won’t get into here (& no, not just because it’s “any kind of change whatsoever”[6]). But that’s not relevant (yet…).

Well guess what? It’s relevant now. As of 2024-05-25, TTR has officially released its v4.0.0 update entitled “Under New Management”.

I wasn’t sure when it was gonna happen, but I knew that it was an inevitability, & I guess I should just be glad that I got to play pre-v4.0.0 TTR as much as I did. The footnote in the above quotation reads like so:

Relatedly, see my simultaneously radical & conservationist approach in the “An all too brief polemic against the post-Big-Bangification of nominally ‘pre-Big-Bang’ MapleStory” section of pt. cx of rangifer’s diary.

The “All too brief polemic” essay is surprisingly relevant here. By starting with something very specific & concrete, it drills down to the absolute core of what game design problems (not to mention other, slightly more social problems, which would deserve their own essay(s)) have plagued pre-BB MapleStory for nearly its entire existence, through the present day & unfortunately beyond. For this reason, & because it happens to be relevant to Toontown (albeit to a slightly lesser degree), I’m very proud to have written it & gotten it off my chest, even if noöne reads it.

For better or worse, although I deeply appreciate those who do actually read it, I know perfectly well that it’s not destined for any audience of significant size. Moreover, these days, I barely have the energy to get out of bed, much less the energy to spend hours & hours wracking my nerves by writing polemics that, at absolute best, maybe one or two people will take seriously. For these reasons, I don’t plan on writing any more essays in the near future, in spite of how those essays may burn brightly inside of me, & in spite of how much I may feel (justifiably or otherwise…) like my essay-writing has finally gotten to a point of actually being halfway-decent. Maybe that will change in the future, but the future is not now.

Mechanical changes

Even so, although I won’t be going Full Polemic Mode™ on TTR v4.0.0 (& its predecessors…), I will briefly cover, in minimal detail, some of the reasons why it might be considered “good”, “bad”, or just plain “confusing”. In great part, the purpose of this exercise is simply to more deeply familiarise myself with the overhaul, as I will be continuing to play TTR, & so I will be faced with the changes whether I like them or not.

The introduction to the patch notes basically begins with this note:

If you’re a longtime Toontown player and are very familiar with the current meta, don’t fret! While rebalances to the battle system may sound alarming at first, we aim to preserve what makes Toontown special for so many of our players, while adding what we feel will help those battles continue to stand out as newer challenges get added to the game.

At first blush, this introduction appears to be aimed at an audience of people like myself; I am a longtime Toontown player very familiar with the game mechanics, after all. As I read further, however, the inenarrable “meta” rears its ugly head, & I’m told that the changes are to accommodate newer — & presumably, bigger — challenges. As we’ll see, however, the mechanical changes are actually apparently headed in the other direction: watering down TTO’s mechanics. The basic process appears to be vaguely like so:

  1. Design new game content based around brand-new suī generis mechanics that did not exist in TTO.
  2. Water down TTO’s game mechanics — some of which might occasionally be inappropriate for the neo-content anyway — or simply remove them entirely.
  3. Replace at least some of the deficit left behind by (2.) with balancing (read: tweaking some numbers) and, to a lesser extent, brand-new mechanics.

Although the problem is obviously concentrated around (2.), we’ll see that the problem actually permeates all three of the above steps.


The next section concentrates on the stunning mechanic. See the “Microcosm” section of the first instalment, for more on stunning via Toon-Up gags, & the “Oak’s treat” section of the previous instalment, for my experience doing exactly this as Rusa.

In Toontown Online, all battle actions had granted the passive ability to increase the accuracy of upcoming gag actions in the same round by 20% each.

Although TTO’s stunning mechanic is more intricate than this, this is basically correct as a simplification.

This is considered a hidden mechanic and has proven to be quite an appreciated quirk in gameplay. However, it also doesn’t entirely make sense. We’re shifting this logic to be more realistic in the sense that only real damaging hits towards Cogs would make them more vulnerable to upcoming gags.

Now we see the logic of these updates: even if the mechanic has been with us for (quite literally) over 21 years, succeeds in enriching the game, and is appreciated to the point that people base their character-builds & gameplay around it, it’s okay to water it down or eliminate it, so long as a quick justification can be given.

The idea that this mechanic “doesn’t entirely make sense” & is not “realistic” is, at the very least, humorous, for a game consisting of colourful anthropomorphic cartoon animals playing practical jokes on inexplicable business robots.

Granted, they do correctly point out that this is something of a “hidden” mechanic. Although they don’t actually say (nor really imply) that this is bad, I would argue that it is, even if player-to-player communication has done some job of disseminating the relevant information. However, the solution to this problem is not to water the mechanic down — it’s to give in-game indicators, which is exactly what TTR has consistently done in this update & in past updates. Moreover, actually thorough documentation of the game’s mechanics — even if that documentation is out-of-game — would realistically be the bare minimum here. Sure, “noöne likes writing documentation”, so, I don’t know. Hire me to do it? I’m a nerd…? 🤓

But I digress. Here’s the watered-down version as of v4.0.0 (emphasis in the original):

  • Trap Placements, Successful Lures, Reward Usages, Successful Doodle Tricks, and Successful Toon-Ups no longer grant Stun bonuses to upcoming battle actions in that round instance.
  • Damage-dealing Gag Attacks such as Sound Hits, Throw Hits, and Squirt Hits will now grant a Stun Bonus of 25% to upcoming battle actions in that round instance instead of 20%.
    • Note: Drop Hits would also be accounted for, but no battle actions occur after Drop.
    • Note: SOS Toons that utilize damaging gags do perform stuns for upcoming actions.
  • Trap Activation Hits now grant a Stun Bonus of 30% to upcoming battle actions.


  • Trap now provides a 10% Accuracy bonus to any Lure gags used on Cogs with the ‘Trapped’ status effect.
    • This Accuracy bonus is applicable in either the same or a future turn.
    • Does not stack with multiple Trap gags when using a Group Lure.

Ironically, in the very first bullet point, we already contradict the sole stated justification (“realism”) for this watering-down: successful Lures no longer stun. Surely, if anything is a “realistic” stun, Lure is! Of course, the Lure already lures the Cog, so presumably the idea is that “it doesn’t need to also stun”; but if we’re taking the “realism” angle, I think that waking up from a hypnotised state is kinda the paradigmatic sense of stunned in this context…

But really, it doesn’t matter. The major changes here are twofold:

The first change is the saddest one for me personally. On a purely personal note, I’ve spent many hundreds & even thousands of hours playing this damn game, & most of those hours have been dedicated to gameplay that relies on to varying degrees — & in some cases, centres around — TTO’s stunning mechanics. Without exaggeration, I have never had more fun playing Toontown than when I played goofy Über builds like Toon-Up-only or Toon-Up-&-Drop-only, or when I played goofy non-Über builds like Soundless-&-Lureless. For crying out loud, those Über builds were so fun that, even after countless hours of grinding to a maxed-out Sellbot Cog Disguise on both(!) of them & many others, I still went back & just kept doing V.P.s exclusively for the fun of it. Those builds & gameplay styles are now dead.

And when it comes to the second change, it’s easy to justify this shift by pointing out that Trapless 6-trackers have historically been popular — perhaps even the most popular — build. But if Trap needs to be relatively “stronger”, then there are many better ways of doing that which don’t simultaneously water down TTO’s game mechanics:

In any case, hopefully the reader understands by now what I mean when I say “watered down”. Perhaps more importantly, the major takeaway here is to remember what does stun — viz. already-activated Trap gags, Sound, Throw, Squirt, & to a considerably lesser extent, inactivated Trap gags for Lure only.

Gag damage

Emphasis in the original:

All instances of Organic Bonus are now calculated rounded up instead of down.

As mentioned in footnote #3 of the “A more difficult decision this time” section of the third instalment, TTO’s organic (org) damage is floored to a minimum of 1 bonus damage. v4.0.0 changes this from the floor function to the ceiling function, which has the neat effect of eliminating the need for a “to a minimum of 1” clause.

This is, as mentioned in the patch notes, a subtle change. Not so much because it only increases damage by 1 (& sometimes by 0), but because the change is so wide-reaching that it will change the landscape of which gag combos exist. I previously did a lot of research on exactly this topic — viz. gag combos that require certain gags to be org — & a good bit of that research is now useless. It remains to be seen whether I, or anyone else, will renew this topic, or if it will continue to be largely ignored in favour of a few select “favourite child” combos — especially considering that TTR seems to be in the habit of changing these mechanics willy-nilly anyway. If you find any info on this topic, do let me know.

My main hope is that this will help to produce some good combos with org Drop, which will be my choice for at least as long as it takes for me to get a feel for it.

Along these same lines, we have some other changes to org damage (emphasis in the original):

  • Increased organic Toon-Up healing bonus from 10% to 20%.

  • Increased organic Squirt damage bonus from 10% to 15%.
  • Increased organic Drop damage bonus from 10% to 15%.

The Toon-Up change is probably sorely needed; although org Toon-Up was previously a reasonable choice in some cases, those cases were mostly limited to “solely doing SBFOs” or “being a 1- or 2-tracker with Toon-Up”.

The other two changes are once again subtle, for the same reasons. Obviously, I’m personally excited about the buff to org Drop, as this was already going to be my org track of choice anyway.

However, in both cases — especially with org Squirt — I’m disappointed by what these buffs seem to faintly imply. In addition to my own research on org Squirt & org Drop, I also have a lot of personal experience using org Squirt (& to a much lesser extent, org Drop; hence why I wanted to try it now), & so I can say with much confidence that org Squirt was already good. It was good in TTO, & it continued to be so, even after TTR’s v3.0.0 update. It was something of an open secret that org Squirt had a lot of utility, but most players were either not made aware of this, or if they were, they were more likely to make a more conventional choice with more straightforward usage.

In great part (& again, this basically also applies to org Drop), this was simply because the gameplay style associated with org Squirt was almost never necessary, & so the effort required to make it popular could never fully materialise. Thus, org Squirt — & many other ultra-strategic gameplay choices — retained little more than a cult following of people who saw more deeply into what TTO’s game mechanics offered. It seems that TTR’s approach, then, is to follow closely to the “““meta”””: if something isn’t popular, then it must be underpowered, & actually taking TTO’s game mechanics seriously is unnecessary — we can simply discard any insights into Toontown’s original mechanics.

All that being said, this is not really a complaint about these changes per sē. I don’t feel strongly about them, & if it makes more people see more variety in their gameplay, then who could be upset about that? It is only the implication that I fear, & we’ll see that this implication permeates the entire ethos of TTR’s “balancing” efforts.


To make up for the deficit left by watered-down stunning mechanics, Lure accuracy has been reworked in basically two ways:

The great upside of this is that my Lure training is going to be significantly easier! It was previously difficult to get people to coöperate to make Lure actually hit, but with this watered-down version of Lure accuracy dynamics, it’s pretty simple: Lure already just is more accurate simply because of the increased base accuracy, & furthermore, the strategic need to stun has been largely replaced by the easier-to-understand paradigm of “just use multiple Lure gags instead of one”.


It’s time to address the elephant trunk in the room. Everyone is keenly aware of how powerful Sound gags are in Toontown, so much so that Toontown Online’s Cog Facilities revolved around them. With Under New Management’s design goal to reduce facility grind duration and other bloating aspects, we’re embracing the idea of resource management to give it more strategic value. In turn, this gives other gag tracks better attention[,] as Sound gags now need to be used resourcefully.


  • Decreased the maximum Carrying Capacity of all Sound gags.
    • This carrying capacity is identical to what Trap gags had prior to the v3.0.0 update of Sellbot Field Offices.

The Elephant Trunk in the room, indeed. This is the part of v4.0.0’s mechanical changes that has, by far, received the most attention. The irony, of course, is that it’s the least concern. You can see some people huffing, turning a bit red in the face, & storming out of the room, but not in any significant numbers. The whining is, however, what people hear the loudest.

The result is that defenders of v4.0.0 (of which there are many) will consistently be seen trotting out the same two or so points:

The problem is that I don’t disagree with either of these points. Sound really is still fundamentally in the same place as it was before. This leaves me in the awkward and, frankly, embarrassing situation of not actually disagreeing with anyone! Anyone who’s aware of this update either cares about what TTO’s mechanics have to offer & basically agrees with me, or else is concerned about other things entirely.

v2.0 Cogs

We’ve yet to encounter a single v2.0 Cog here, & that’s because they’re reserved for what is — at the very least, classically — the game’s most challenging content: BBHQ. The v3.0.0 update completely removed TTO’s v2.0 Cog mechanics, & then later replaced it with a bespoke “Reinforced Plating” mechanic. In short, Reinforced Plating effectively lowered the base damage of incoming gags by a fixed amount that was based upon the Cog’s level.

In this update, “[w]ith the intent of making v2.0 Cogs seem more threatening rather than sponges”, Reinforced Plating has been removed entirely. Personally, I was somewhat ambivalent towards Reinforced Plating: on the one hand, it’s a potentially interesting mechanic that requires Toons to save their hard-hitting gags for v2.0s & discourages the use of Sound on v2.0s; but on the other, it replaced the original v2.0 Cog mechanics that already had their own very interesting implications, strategies, gag combos, and were important for Soundless (& otherwise mixed-strategy) gameplay. Moreover, the notion that Reinforced Plating made relatively high-level Cogs into gag sponges is… not entirely wrong.

This update, rather than simply restoring the rich & well-utilised “carryover” (v2.0 Cog mechanics) of TTO — ideally with a better UI (& all of those bugs fixed…) to help players better understand it — we have… almost nothing.

The silver lining is that v2.0 Cogs can now attack even on rounds where their outer shell has just been destroyed. This does add some challenge to v2.0s that v1.0s lack, but there’s no carryover, so a v2.0 Cog is effectively two independent Cogs HP-wise. Thus, the intended dynamic appears to be something like this: if you can kill both Cogs in one round — without any carryover, nor anything else to make it interesting — then that’s great. Otherwise… it’s still little more than “two Cogs” in this sense.

Knowing the dynamic will help me as I’m going forward — that is, assuming that they don’t revamp v2.0 Cogs for a fourth time… or a fifth time…… But I still can’t help but wonder why these patch notes (of TTR v3.0.0 & onward) insist that they mean to promote mixed strategy and to make the game more challenging & interesting, & yet, at the same time, ignore what made TTO challenging & interesting — especially for the people who were already employing mixed strategy even before TTR came along.

Cog attacks

As some enthusiasts may know, Sellbots are considered the most powerful of Cogs due to their abundance of group attacks. Meanwhile, Bossbots wield none except for the Yesman. We’d like to aim for all these Cog Departments to be on somewhat equal footing in overall strength, so we’re introducing a couple of new attacks to the Cog Departments that need it. Additionally, we’re giving some extra love to Tier 8 Cogs by giving them some signature attacks for some well-deserved variety.

It’s perhaps unfortunate that this change will cause even more of TTR’s revisions to TTO to “leak” even into early-game content, & indeed, into the entire game. But this change is probably a good one, so long as they still maintain some of TTO’s dynamic of certain Cog species being more damaging than others merely by virtue of which attacks they possess & prefer to use.

Unfortunately, that’s all I have to say, as TTR has confusingly not publicly released this game-defining info, as far as I know — & the official wiki doesn’t have it, either. Very strange. 😵‍💫

Game content changes

UNM also completely overhauls all Cog facilities. Given that Cog facilities are easily one of the game’s core categories of content, this is kind of a huge deal.

I haven’t done any of the revamped Cog facilities yet, but I am aware of basically how they operate. The most important aspects to me are as follows.


Apparently just in the nick of time, in the previous instalment, the “Factorial” section spoke at great length about the Sellbot Factory — because that was Rusa’s first one! I dedicated quite a bit to the examination of the Side Entrance, of Factory routing, & of Übers’ relation to the Factory. A lot (albeit not all) of that is now history. That was — in all but name — my last Factory ever (not to mention my other “last”s from longer ago). The original Sellbot Factory has been largely preserved as the Scrap Factory; but even that has its major changes; but even that has been partially overshadowed by the new Steel Factory; but even that is optimistic in comparison to the larger changes made to other non-Sellbot facilities.

We’ve been doing Factories, Mints, DA Offices, & CGCs since 2003, 2005, 2006, & 2008, respectively, & they are now dead[1].

What does that mean? I don’t honestly know. Maybe after I try these new facilities for the first few times, I will forget what we’ve lost. Yet I can’t help but feel like it was unnecessary to really lose much of anything. There are ways to improve the facility-grinding experience, & there are ways to add new, challenging content like e.g. SBFOs. But neither of those were quite what was done here.

The release of TTR’s v3.0.0 & SFBOs came with considerable changes, many of which leaked into the entire game & spoilt some of what made TTO’s game mechanics good. But content-wise, even if SBFOs were poorly-designed in some ways (particularly the over-reliance on rewards[2]), there was still “the entire rest of the game’s content”, which was the stuff that we all knew & loved already. With v4.0.0, we are now effectively robbed of this consolation. Not only are the mechanical changes even more invasive this time, but the content changes are too.


That being said, TTR are undoubtedly justified in wanting to spice up the game, making it more challenging in interesting ways. To do this, however, the strategy is to look away from TTO rather than towards it.

I’m far from being the first one to accuse — as praise, or as criticism — TTR of taking direct inspiration from TT:CC. The simple act of taking inspiration is, however, perfectly innocent, & thus this is by no means a criticism unto itself. Where it perhaps goes wrong, however, is how content-centric these changes are.

TTR are plenty creative with the fun stuff that newer & stronger bosses are capable of. But when this fun stuff doesn’t play quite right with TTO’s game mechanics — or rather, with the “meta’s” shallow & warped view of those mechanics — we get the three-step process outlined in the “Mechanical changes” section above.

The “grind”

No, seriously, I can’t figure out what grind is supposed to mean anymore

In the “Sound” section above, I characterised one of the few points made by defenders of v4.0.0 as follows:

  • The general vibe of UNM is to reduce perceived “grindiness”, which is why people did so much Sound spam to begin with.

I admit that I don’t really understand the “grindiness” argument, although I also don’t disagree with it either (much like I don’t disagree with any of the points made by such defenders). The fact is that Toontown is still — just as much as it ever was — a game of “grinding” in the usual videogame sense. The real problem with “grindiness” is when those repetitive tasks are boring due to a lack of engaging gameplay and/or lack of internal variation. Thus, if the point of classical TTO Sound-spam was to ameliorate this problem by simply making the grind faster in the crude sense of taking a little bit less wall-clock time, then it didn’t really ameliorate this problem, & indeed arguably made it worse!

Between this apparently confused(??) equivocation of the term “grind”, & the fact that post-v4.0.0 TTR is still centred around “grind” gameplay (indeed, the brand-new v2.0 Cog Disguises add another grind for players to do), I admit to being somewhat unclear on the true intent behind these arguments, & behind the UNM update in general. Still, if the idea is just to make individual Cog Facilities shorter in median wall-clock time, then sure — great.

At the same time, it’s clear to me that — whatever the actual, unequivocal concerns may be — the v4.0.0 update was not necessary to serve those concerns. In addition to the game-mechanical concerns that I raise here, we could go alllll day dissecting the “grind”.

For example, although extremely long facilities are obviously untenable, a comparison to MapleStory bosses — arguably the most popular & well-loved content in that game! — is warranted, given that such bosses can often take well over an hour for a single run. Moreover, not only is that well over an hour for a single run, but that is over an hour of constant input, with very little or nothing in the way of breaks (even including micro-breaks like those given by Toontown’s turn-based battle animations). Although it’s difficult to carve out time for this much continuous videogaming, it also has the underrated upside of not requiring as much liminal activity. In particular, once you get a group for a facility, you don’t have to do any gag restocking, groupfinding, etc. until that facility is done. It’s pure gaming!

If players are rewarded more for this “pure gaming”, then surely the “grind” — in apparently all senses indicated — is thus reduced. That’s as simple as making the numbers bigger, right? Am I missing something…?

What I really mean to say

I said that I wasn’t going to write a polemic, & I think I accidentally wrote half of it anyway. I’m going to cry. Help me. Is anyone reading this?

…I think I’ve made my basic point, but there are a lot of details — I am sifting through the patch notes of a major update, after all — so here’s a recap, so that I don’t have to sift through all of the above to get the actual takeaways.

[↑] Without exaggeration, I have never had more fun playing Toontown than when I played goofy Über builds like Toon-Up-only or Toon-Up-&-Drop-only, or when I played goofy non-Über builds like Soundless-&-Lureless. For crying out loud, those Über builds were so fun that, even after countless hours of grinding to a maxed-out Sellbot Cog Disguise on both(!) of them & many others, I still went back & just kept doing V.P.s exclusively for the fun of it. Those builds & gameplay styles are now dead.

This is just one example of the kind of loss incurred — both mechanically & content-wise — by updates like v4.0.0. But why?

[↑] [Organic] Squirt — & many other ultra-strategic gameplay choices — retained little more than a cult following of people who saw more deeply into what TTO’s game mechanics offered. It seems that TTR’s approach, then, is to follow closely to the “““meta”””: if something isn’t popular, then it must be underpowered, & actually taking TTO’s game mechanics seriously is unnecessary — we can simply discard any insights into Toontown’s original mechanics.

[↑] I still can’t help but wonder why these patch notes (of TTR v3.0.0 & onward) insist that they mean to promote mixed strategy and to make the game more challenging & interesting, & yet, at the same time, ignore what made TTO challenging & interesting — especially for the people who were already employing mixed strategy even before TTR came along.

[↑] TTR are plenty creative with the fun stuff that newer & stronger bosses are capable of. But when this fun stuff doesn’t play quite right with TTO’s game mechanics — or rather, with the “meta’s” shallow & warped view of those mechanics — we get the three-step process outlined in the “Mechanical changes” section above.

The reality is this: Toontown is an old game, & players have already long since figured out most of what makes it interesting. They have innovated new gameplay restrictions, new character builds, & new strategies, the research of which was honestly still very much ongoing. And there were two big reasons why that research was ongoing:

TTR commendably wants to change the latter. Unfortunately, in doing so, they have consigned the former largely to oblivion.

The way in which I & many other people played Toontown for so many years is now invalid. We’re only left to wonder what TTR would be like if they took TTO’s mechanics seriously & then ran with it, creating new challenges to coax out those fun & engaging nuances that already latently existed.

Look on the bright side

Hopefully I will forget all this by the time that I’m 100 hours into grinding my Cog Disguises, or whatever. I don’t want TTO & TTO-like TTR to be a bad memory for me, just because TTR decided to get rid of it & leave the echoes behind. It was a lot of fun, and here’s hoping that I can have a similar amount of fun with v4.0.0 TTR & beyond. 🙂 Maybe the new facility (mini-)bosses are even cooler than they sound!! And yay for my Lure levelling up faster!!! Plus some other cool changes that are not as major!!!!

Footnotes for “It happened.”

  1. [↑] Effectively. Of course more TTO-like servers can always exist, but it’s more than a little difficult to compete with the momentum of the already-long-established TTR.

  2. [↑] Rewards (in this very specialised Toontown sense) are consumable rewards, namely those awarded by boss fights.

    Classically, interesting & fun runs have been (often intentionally) rewardless, as the use of an inventory full of arbitrarily many powerful rewards can easily overshadow the actually-interesting gameplay. If my memory serves me, TTR has made changes to the size of said inventory, but never in any meaningful ways, because they have effectively embraced rewards as an intended way to complete relatively difficult content.

We are not Gouda ’nuff

Rusa: oh[,] big cheeses. spicy

Top 10 Photos Taken Moments Before Disaster

We’re coming in hot, this time. Seconds after I log in, I get an invite from Excessively Purple Mouse (formerly known as *Purple Mouse, in the previous instalment) to do a 5-storey Cog Building. And how can I resist? Then, I show up, & it’s a Big Cheese Invasion. The chat bubble in the above image is a bit orange because I’m using boarding group chat.

A 5-storey Building in a Big Cheese invasion is no joke, but Excessively Purple Mouse is committed to getting us a full group (i.e. of four Toons), & he seems pretty confident. As it turns out, our group is a little underpowered. Excessively Purple Mouse is tied for the highest maxlaff, & he only has 54. But we have Lure, right…?

Lure Bonus

Yes, that’s two Big Magnets & my little red magnet being used at the same time — “Lure Bonus”! The UI here really makes it clear what’s going on — something that we can thank TTR for, & not so much TTO’s habit of being cryptic…

Without the various change to Lure in this update, I think we would’ve been pretty screwed. The boost to base accuracy makes up for our low-level Lure tracks, & the multi-Lure bonus makes up for our lack of ability to consistently stun. The result was that we seemed to be doing surprisingly well when compared to my expectations — & that’s even with the fact that Big Cheeses have multi-target attacks now!

It looked like we were in for some positively ✨⁠delectable⁠✨ mounds of gag XP. But by the 4th floor, we were starting to realise what was actually going on:

It’s not looking so good.

Apart from the fact that Duke B.D. very nearly went sad there, the real problem lies in my conspicuous lack of gags. After successfully completing — with no small amount of effort — the 4th of 5 floors, we had some deliberating to do:

Deliberation on the 4th floor

Transcription of the chat bubbles in the above image

Rusa: and all our attacks hit

Excessively Purple Mouse: dang

Duke B.D.: There are better invasions now.

What I’m in the middle of saying in the above image is that it doesn’t really matter how lucky we get: even if all their attacks miss, & all ours hit, we simply won’t be capable of sinking enough damage into the Big Cheeses on the 5th floor to defeat them.

After this deliberation, we decided to just save ourselves the trouble & the recovery time. After all, as Duke B.D. observes, there are other, more suitable Cog Invasions now. We had sunk so much into this Cog Building already that it was a difficult decision to make, but we did it.

A hand’s width from the finish line

Going back to the playground, I noticed something that I’d never seen before:

Rusa throwing a beachball

Why are there bouncy beachballs everywhere?? I mean, it’s cool, I guess. The animations aren’t quite right when you play around with it, & the physics is well-described as “janky”, but hey. It’s… ball. Cool.

Oh, right. The other Cog Invasion. We thought that a Glad Hander Invasion would be more suitable. Much like in the previous Building, we were having a whale of a time squeezing out every last drop of scrumptious gag XP. Near the end of the 4th floor, I was starting to fear that my gags were looking pretty empty, but Excessively Purple Mouse insisted that he had plenty of Throw & Squirt remaining.

As it turned out, he was almost right. Almost. He did have more gags than I did, & it seemed like we were going to make it all the way to the end — the only point at which any XP (& other rewards) are actually dispensed. Then, just as we had barely defeated the final Glad Hander, this happened:

Three. More. Glad Handers.

Transcription of the chat bubbles in the above image

Purple Deer: OH NO

Duke B.D.: OH NO

Rusa: NOOO

You gotta be fluffin’ kiddin’ me!! Three more‽‽

W—well… Maybe we can still make it…? Very painstakingly, we managed to whittle these three Glad Handers down to just one. At this point, I was gagless, & so were Excessively Purple Mouse & Duke B.D.. All that we had left were Purple Deer’s brand-spankin’-new 5-damage Whistles.

nope that was my last

Transcription of the chat bubbles in the above image

Excessively Purple Mouse: keep sounding that guy

Purple Deer: nope that was my last

Rusa: omg nooo

It’s difficult to put into words how tragic this was, so here’s an image instead:

We are all gagless on this blessèd day

Transcription of the chat bubbles in the above image

Rusa: we are all gagless

Excessively Purple Mouse: wow well this is a learning experience at least

You see that? Thanks to the new Cog HP meters (which are fantastic, by the way), we can clearly see that this absolute stinker has like three HP left. Anything would kill it. Anything!!! Our flabbers were so fricking gasted that, even knowing that we were now all 100% gagless, we still stood there for a good minute, even taking one or two attacks from the thing, just in sheer awe. How is it even possible to so deeply embody the phrase so close, yet so far?

Truly incredible. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

The goofs, the gaffs, the laffs — O my deer, thou shalt have it all!

Welp. That was a whole lotta nothin’. I mean, it was fun, but I also didn’t get even a lick of XP. I guess it’s time for Moar ToonHQ Surfing™!

Oh, right. Remember the end of the previous instalment? Where I had to do the final DG ToonTask? Well… it was very easy. And as I am — apparently — wont to do, I did a lot of dilly-dallying before starting the ToonTasks of the next neighbourhood in earnest.

This time, though, I was able to augment that dilly-dallying with some ToonTasks — but of the “Just for fun!” kind!

[Toon HQ officer]: For the next 4 days, you will have big legs.

One kind of reward that can be obtained from “Just for fun!” ToonTasks is a cheesy effect. These are almost purely cosmetic effects that make your Toon look wonky in some way. I decided to try big legs for the first time:

Rusa with big legs

For a while, big legs used to be… fashionable, let’s say. Believe me when I say that Toontown does have, & always has had, fashion — & some people even get cliquey with it. There’s no shortage of Toons that can be associated with a particular in-group or gameplay style merely by knowing how their Toon looks, or what their name is. It’s very silly, but also I couldn’t possibly make this shiRt[1] up.

Anyway, now I know why I never bought into the big legs craze. It sounds attractive, until you actually try it, & just feel like you’re walking on stilts all the time.

Oh! Would you look at that. My shovel levelled up.

Congratulations! You’ve mastered the 1 bean flower! To progress[,] you should pick 2 bean flowers.

Here’s my first round of planting 2-bean flowers:

Some mature 2-bean flowers

Pretty! 🌷

Okay, I gotta get rid of these legs. Luckily, I know a certain Paula Behr of Hibernation Vacations who can give me another cheesy effect to replace it real quick…

Rusa with The Brrrgh’s exclusive cheesy effect

This is the Polar Toon cheesy effect, which only lasts for an hour, & even then, only actually works when you’re in The Brrrgh. I got it just to get rid of those legs, but honestly… I kinda like it? It makes me huge, & although it largely makes me snowy white as intended, I still get some splashes of colour from my headband, glasses, & bowtie! Kinda pretty in a way. Unfortunate that it only works in The Brrrgh.

Speaking of bowties, I ran into a cat Toon who was wearing a really cool one. When I asked where she got it, she told me that there was a special code for it: galaxycon2024. I think this is related to the real-life ToonFest event, or Fanfair Festival, or whatever it’s called. It’s a cool event, but I’ve never been to one. When I looked it up, I came across this illustrated deer Toon from a piece of promo art:

Fanfair Festival deer

Cute! 🦌

However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t redeem the code!

Rusa wearing a galaxycon2024 bowtie

Whoa! Pretty cool. It’s a bit visually busy for my æsthetic, but I really appreciate that the ends of the bow are clearly visible, so I think I’ll wear it anyway!

Footnotes for “The goofs, the gaffs, the laffs — O my deer, thou shalt have it all!”

  1. [↑] Sīc.

Big canes & bamboo magnets

Eventually, I did enough Moar ToonHQ Surfing™ to land myself not one, but two new gags!:

Rusa unlocks the Big Magnet!

Rusa unlocks the Bamboo Cane!

These are some big unlocks, because the Big Magnet & the Bamboo Cane are where these two gag tracks start to really get good. If you’ve never witnessed the latter, it goes a little something like this:

Yes, yes. The Bamboo Cane comes with a flat straw hat! I don’t have any cultural references for ya, but it seems pretty old-timey to me. The footwork is impressive, too.

Pick your poison, claim your foison

Okay, okay, fine. I’ll start on the ToonTasks for the next neighbourhood. As expected, this means that I have to pick a gag track to work towards:

Picking Trap… because I have to!

Transcription of the above image
  • Sound gags affect all Cogs, but are not very powerful.
  • Trap gags are powerful, but must be sprung with Lure gags.

Unfortunately, these are my only two choices. If I had it my way, I’d pick Drop here. But as discussed previously, I won’t be picking Sound, so that leaves just one choice: Trap. Boooo… terrible… It’s okay, though. I was going to get Trap at some point anyway. 🙂

Speaking of picking from things that I don’t particularly want, I accepted a “Just for fun!” ToonTask that said it would award me a Clothing Ticket. Now, back in TTO, I think these ToonTasks made more sense. In TTR, however, you don’t need Clothing Tickets to buy clothing from shops — you can just pay with jellybeans. Granted, the Clothing Ticket does save me those beans, but I don’t think that clothing costs that much anyway…

Rusa turning in a Clothing Ticket to Tailor Harmony

The ToonTask made me turn the Clothing Ticket in to specifically Tailor Harmony of the Minnie’s Melodyland Clothing Shop, so… this is what I got. I didn’t have a lot of options, but I think that the denim was my best bet, & I like how cute the shorts are. That being said, I looked through all the colours multiple times, & could not make the hues match with each other, nor with my Toon. So I’m probably never going to wear this. LOL


Oh yes yes yes, that’s right. I’m on that MML ToonTask grind now!

As its name implies, this neighbourhood is all about music!! You have to climb through trumpets to get around the playground, the sidewalks are piano keys, & best of all, the shops have musical pun names! We’re gonna have a lot of fun with those, I can feel it. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that MML has the largest Toon population of any Toontown neighbourhood!

The streets are as follows (largest Cog populations of a given department are bolded):

The streets of MML
name Cog population connected street connected neighbourhood
Alto Avenue 50% Sell, 50% Cash Loopy Lane TTC
Tenor Terrace 50% Boss, 50% Law Lullaby Lane DDL
Baritone Boulevard 90% Cash, 10% Sell Sleet Street The Brrrgh

As can be seen in the table above, the streets are named for voice types: alto[1] is somewhere above tenor & below soprano, tenor is somewhere above baritone & below alto, & baritone is somewhere above bass & below tenor. These terms are also used for musical ranges in general, e.g. in other instruments such as saxophones, horns, etc.

Naturally, its theme makes MML a favourite for me personally, even if it’s not my absolute favourite neighbourhood in the game (we’ll get to that one later!). Although easy on the ears, I can’t really say that MML is also easy on the eyes. I think that MML tends to get underrated as a result of its colour palette & its awkward position somewhere in the middle all neighbourhoods. Its ToonTaskline doesn’t really have much of note[2], other than a certain ToonTask that I will be swiftly completing very soon.

Footnotes for “Minnie’s!”

  1. [↑] As specifically a voice type, alto may instead be referred to with the gendered terms contralto (≈ female alto) or countertenor (≈ male alto) to convey registral differences (& for wildly varying historical reasons). In other contexts (e.g. alto saxophone), alto is just a range or tessitura.
  2. [↑] Pun very super intended.

Whether tall or small, my gags I’ll haul — I’ll carry them all!

Sonata Your Fault! Discount Auto Insurance

Accidental Insurance

First image: Sonata Your Fault! Discount Auto Insurance on Baritone Boulevard, operated by Sid Sonata (best known for his role as the 4-star Sound SOS Toon). A pun on so not your fault!, with so as an intensifier, & an ostensibly anaptyctic /⁠-ə⁠/ at the end of not. Sonata is a vague & historically wildly-varying musical term most commonly used in recent times to refer to a particular musical form that is itself somewhat flexible, most notable for its “exposition → development → recapitulation” paradigm, & its opposition between two tonal centres.

Second image: Accidental Insurance on Alto Avenue, operated by Lightning Ted. Another pun on motor vehicle insurance, this time from the English phrase car accident. This phrase remains common colloquially, but is disfavoured because its phraseology implies that the crash is a genuine accident, rather than a result of preventable causes, like most crashes are. An accidental in music is a notational device that indicates or clarifies the alteration (or lack thereof) of the pitch of (a) note(s). The most common accidentals in standard Western notation are ⟨⟩, ⟨⟩, and ⟨⟩, but numerous others are used in this standard & elsewhere.

Well, I’ve now technically started the MML ToonTaskline, but let’s be real. I’m still out here absolutely slamming random Cog Buildings one after another. But I’m experimenting with other cheesy effects, like the smol Toon one:

smol Rusa standing next to Orangish the giant dog

Wow, I feel really smol. I have to tilt my head up just to look at Orangish’s knee! Then again, Orangish is a ginormous dog.

Remember how I described cheesy effects as “almost purely cosmetic”? Well, smol Toon really does make your hitbox smoller & your arms’ elevation lower, so in cases where cheesy effects are allowed (particularly the V.P. fight), this can confer some very smol advantage. But also kinda not really. Anyway…

Chopin Blocks (And Other Kitchen Supplies)

Chopin Blocks (And Other Kitchen Supplies) on Baritone Boulevard, operated by Curtis Finger. A pun on the name of Frédéric François Chopin (Polish: Fryderyk Franciszek Szopen), Polish (& later, French) pianistcomposer of the first half of the 19th century. The surname does not begin with an affricate in Polish, French, nor English, & the final vowel is realised as either /⁠æ⁠/ or /⁠æ̃⁠/ (not */⁠ɪ⁠/) in English. The pun only works as choppin’ blocks by taking the ⟨Ch⟩ and ⟨i⟩ as their usual phonetic values in English orthography. The shopkeeper’s name is a pun on cut his finger, presumably with a kitchen knife.

On my way down Lullaby Lane towards MML, I accidentally stumbled my way into just a teensy bit of OOB:

Just a little bit of OOB on Lullaby Lane

I couldn’t quite squeeze my way further into the grey (as it’s conventionally called), so I couldn’t really walk around & explore it. Nonetheless, this was enough to see the grey, get stuck in the jumping animation that you see above, & also peer through the wall to another part of the street entirely (where the Toon Headquarters can be seen). Such OOB bugs used to be much easier to “exploit” for giggles back in the TTO days, but I guess physics almost works now? Wack. At least we still have unlimited OOB in Toon houses!

The Teli-Caster Fishing Television Network

The Teli-Caster Fishing Television Network on Tenor Terrace, operated by Telly Prompter. A pun on the Fender Telecaster™, a solid-body electric guitar model from 1950, making it the first mass-produced instrument of its kind. The shopkeeper’s name is a pun on teleprompter.

Okay, that’s enough being smol. What if I want to be big Toon instead…?

BIG Rusa

Wowzers, I am larj! I think I’ll keep this one for now. 😛

Okay, it’s time for an actual MML ToonTask that isn’t just a rando one. I could really use a larger gag bag, so I’ll start the ToonTask for a 40-gag pouch. This ToonTask is directed entirely by Tom of Tom-Tom’s Drums (a pun on tom-tom drums, more commonly known as simply toms) on Alto Avenue. But it starts with a lot of walking around, made extra painful by the fact that Tom-Tom’s Drums is the last Toon Building on Alto Avenue! 🥲

The Borrowed Chord Pawn Shop

The Borrowed Chord Pawn Shop on Tenor Terrace, operated by Fan Fret. A pun on the music-theoretic notion of a borrowed chord, wherein a chord is “borrowed” from a parallel mode. The technique so thoroughly permeates so many musical traditions — including Western classical, jazz, & popular — that it is now more commonly thought of as modal mixture, such that no particular regime (e.g. only interchanging certain chords between specifically natural major & natural minor keys) is implied in the arbitrary mixture of tangentially-related modes. See the “DD_SZ” section of the third instalment, for a simple example.

The shopkeeper’s name is a pun on fanned fret, a method of laying out fretted fingerboards so as to support multiple scale lengths that get gradually shorter along the transverse direction.

Eventually, I was finished with playing courier, & I had done some dilly-dallying as instructed by Yuki (ゆき; a pun on the English pronunciation of ukulele[5]). After some more running around, it was time for the real crux of this ToonTask:

Cleff: I’ll make you a deal, broseph. I’ll trade you for one of those radical Whole Cream Pies.

Cleff (named for clef, a type of symbol used in most modern musical notation) is the shopkeeper of Notations on Alto Avenue. He is rather infamous for exactly what you see above: this is nearly the sole ToonTask in the game that makes a serious check on the Toon’s gag XP up to that point. The other contender here is DDock’s final gag training ToonTask, wherein Admiral Hook of Hook’s Clock Repair needs a spring from a Squirt Gun. But the Whole Cream Pie is a whole two levels higher than the Squirt Gun, so Cleff’s request is more significant.

The result for typical Toons is that they either do a significant amount of dedicated XP grinding before this point (as I did), or end up stuck on this ToonTask for a while because they failed to do so. However, for Throwless and/or Squirtless Toons, Cleff’s and/or Admiral Hook’s ToonTask(s) are of more consequence: they force the player to grind up to level 5 Throw (= 2 000 XP) and/or level 3 Squirt (= 50 XP) respectively, & to then suddenly stop, never to use those gag track(s) ever again. For Übers, the situation is sometimes better; for example, a Throwless-&-Squirtless two-track neoclassical Über[1] will need to unlock the Squirt Gun, but can remain at 0 Throw XP forever.

Who is Cleff?

Although otherwise perfectly standard English, Cleff’s speech is intentionally crammed full of slang phrases — in the above image, broseph and radical. As far as I can tell, it appears to be a something like a pastiche of white American slang, especially that of California (where TTR is based[2], & also the location of Disneyland), anachronistically mixing together various time periods:[3]

term attested widely used sense etymology
dude 1982 1982〜 (VOC) term of address, esp. for a man, used for any gender by the 1990s〜 Associated with surfers in this sense. Non-vocative sense by 1966 in BAE, wider use ca. 1971〜. Earlier (ca. 1883〜1966) meaning “fastidious man; city slicker”. Further etymology unclear, but probably a clipping of “Yankee Doodle”.
like 1942 1950s〜 (PTCL) indicating approximation or uncertainty; INTS Like dude, probably originally BAE (according to Green), but quickly adopted by whites. Associated with beatniks & hippies, but managed to outlive the counterculture movement.
tubular 1982 1980s cool, awesome, excellent, perfect Surfing jargon by 1962 meaning “hollow, curved wave, ideal for the surfer”. Valspeak by 1982.
broseph 2003 2003〜 (VOC) term of address, esp. for a man Blend of bro + Joseph. Bro is already a clipping of brother by the 1660s, but this sense emerged in BAE by 1926, later extended to also refer to non-black people. This variant is one of many, emerging much later (cf. bruh).
radical 1976 1979〜1990s awesome, excellent From 1970s surfer slang meaning “(of a wave) awesomely powerful; at the limits of control”.
bodacious 1976 1982〜? enormous; extraordinary 1837 blend of bold + audacious, in Southeast U.S. slang, where it meant exactly that. Other etymologies are suggested. Later revived by 1970s CB radio & popular films of the 1980s. Declining use after ca. 2010.

The use of broseph would seem to place Cleff in the 21st century, but tubular & radical are already dated (i.e. no longer in common/general use) by this point. Although this doesn’t preclude Cleff simply being old enough to remember the use of tubular, it makes it unlikely that he’d pick up broseph into his vocabulary.

The bias towards California specifically can be found in tubular, radical, & to a lesser extent, dude. All other terms are expected in AmE generally. Although surf culture also extends to the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi, it originated in Southern California, & the sense of tubular used by Cleff is specifically Valspeak (also Southern California).

This version of Cleff’s speech was written recently, viz. in 2022 — ca. 20 years after the original text. His original dialogue was inspired by the 1993 live-action Disney™ film Cool Runnings, whose main characters are fictionalised versions of the original Jamaica national bobsleigh team. As a result, the original text contained elements of Jamaican Creole (Patwah). TTR’s rewrite was for cultural sensitivity reasons, citing reports from “people who are Jamaican, have friends who are, and by our own staff”[4].

Obviously, this is a difficult issue. Strong — & emotionally heated — arguments can be made either way for whether this particular rewrite was justified. On the one hand, the original was almost certainly not written by someone from Jamaica, & probably wasn’t very well-written — the latter of which makes it more obviously stereotyped, rather than an attempt at genuinely capturing mesolectal production of Jamaican Creole–Jamaican English speech. On the other, rewriting Cleff’s speech in this particular way could be seen as unnecessary in comparison to having a Patwah speaker do the rewrite. Indeed, the new Cleff can be seen as whitewashing, given that he is now portrayed as a white person from Southern California. TTR staff’s statement explicitly says “I promise we do not want to whitewash, as that is not the way to go”[4], but it’s one thing to say something, & another to actually do it.

I’ve no stake in this — in fact, I only learnt of this situation long after the decision was made — but I thought that it was interesting enough to warrant mention.

On a largely irrelevant historical linguistic note, there is just a tinge of irony in the fact that the slang terms used by Cleff’s new speech are, in three (or four, if the uncertain etymology of bodacious is counted) out of six cases, originally BAE. These terms went on to be adopted by white people — & in some cases, quite swiftly so. A miniature lesson in sociolinguistics, I guess.

Gag bag snag! Swag!!

Of course, I already have what Cleff wants, & so the crux of this ToonTask is now behind me.

Ursatz For Really Kool Katz!

Ziggy’s Zeitlose Zukunftsmusik

First image: Ursatz for Really Kool Katz! on Tenor Terrace, operated by Tabitha. A rhyme with the German word Ursatz (SHG /⁠ˈʊʁ.zäts⁠/), a jargon term used in Schenkerian analysis. Usually translated into English as fundamental structure, the Ursatz is an extremely abstract music-theoretical construct that forms the absolute “background layer” of an entire piece of music. Although Schenker’s work had profound influence on music theory, it only applies to tonal music, only conceives of pitches — to the exclusion of rhythms, durations, timbres, dynamics, unpitched material, text, etc. — & remains poorly understood.

Second image: Ziggy’s Zeitlose Zukunftsmusik also on Tenor Terrace, operated by Ziggy. Zukunftsmusik /⁠ˈt͡suː.kʊnft͡s.muːˌziːk⁠/ is literally “music of the future”, & so zeitlose Zukunftsmusik /⁠ˈt͡säɪ̯tˌloː.zə …⁠/ is oxymoronic “timeless music of the future”. Zukunftsmusik was not coined by Wagner, but emerged ca. 1850 as a disparaging term for his music & musical vision that was also simultaneously used by his associates & admirers. Wagner envisioned a “higher” form of art that, amongst other things, would unify all essential forms of art (viz. dance, music, & poetry) into singular stage productions that he contrasted with “base” artistry like e.g. grand opera. He grew apart from both of the groups who used this term, which he thought to be useless both in its positive & negative usages. Note that Ziggy is given the SHG pronunciation /⁠ˈt͡sɪ.giː⁠/ here (not */⁠z-⁠/), to produce the alliteration.

Cough it up, Tom!!

Tom: With this Medium Gag Bag, you can now carry 40 gags.

Thankee. ☺️

Toon in nekst time, for larj Rusa & her larj adventures!! 🧡

Footnotes for “Whether tall or small, my gags I’ll haul — I’ll carry them all!”

  1. [↑] See the “The Earthly consequences of SBHQ” section & footnote #4 of the “Factorial” section of the previous instalment, for more on neoclassical Übers.

  2. [↑] TTR uses Pacific Time (PT) — perhaps better known as Los Angeles time — for what it calls TTT (“Toontown [Rewritten] Time”). Regrettably, this zone observes DST, so it may be or , depending on whether DST is currently observed.

  3. [↑] Dates are given relative to the given particular sense of the term, not the term in general (even of the same etymology).

    Usages & etymologies largely taken from Green’s Dictionary of Slang (Jonathon Green), Etymonline (Douglas Harper), & English Wiktionary.

    Absolutely massive shoutout to bumblesocks’s Toontown Rewritten Dialogue Project, doing important work that should not be necessary, because this stuff should be open-source (or at least source-available) to begin with.

  4. [↑]Why is Cleff getting his dialog change and will he still keep his accent?” (archived).

  5. [↑] The in-game name of this Toon Building is ⟨Yuki’s Ukeleles⟩, a misspelling of ukulele probably influenced by the short name uke /⁠juːk⁠/.