StarCraft: Cartooned, Blizzard Entertainment's latest update to 2017’s StarCraft: Remastered, is a new collaboration with CarBot Animations that aims to keep the 20+ year series fresh with a unique graphical overhaul. CarBot is the company behind multiple animated video game parody YouTube shows including 2012’s popular StarCrafts series, and StarCraft: Cartooned uses those designs as a template in order to re-imagine every landscape, vehicle, and building in the game into crisp, Newgrounds-style flash animations.
In fact, StarCraft: Cartooned is a complete visual overhaul of everything the original remaster included, all the way down to characters, campaign missions, and assets for custom games. Every frame of the original game has been altered to represent its YouTube cartoon doppelganger version, and fans of StarCraft: Remaster's multiplayer modes will be happy to know that the Cartooned update will also work online and with other players, regardless of whether they have purchased the update pack or not.
Although not the darkest of Blizzard’s game franchises (that award goes to Diablo), StarCraft always had an air of seriousness around it when compared to its sister series WarCraft. Cutesier than anything Blizzard has released in the past, StarCraft: Cartooned’s release trailer boldly highlights this difference at once, juxtaposing the old early-3D animations of Terran soldiers with the new brightly-colored CarBot images. The effect can be rather jarring at first, but as the animated world slowly takes over the intended self-humor from the developers becomes apparent.
StarCraft isn't the only Blizzard product CarBot Animations has made a parody series about. Their YouTube page features multiple animated series that lampoon different Blizzard games, such as Heroes of the Storm (HeroStorm) and Overwatch (UnderWatched), raising questions as to whether players might see this particular art style pop up again in a future game. If the cuter animations of Cartooned bring in new players that were turned off by StarCraft's original hard sci-fi ascetic, such future collaborations could become a very real possibility.
It's quite heartening to see a company utilize a fan's creation and publicly legitimize it so unabashedly. When Jonathan Burton began making his funny StarCrafts cartoons in 2012, it's hard to imagine that he knew those drawings would eventually end up being sold as a licensed Blizzard product. While it would have been nice to see a new campaign added based around CarBot's YouTube video story lines, StarCraft: Cartooned is still a great way to breath some new life into this RTS series, and now that the precedent that such collaborations can happen is set everyone needs to tweet at Bungie to give us that Red Vs. Blue co-op Halo game we've been needing.