CHAOTIC – Fun Toon Series Is Advance Guard For Upcoming Role-Playing Card Game!

CHAOTIC LogoLast week's premiere of CHAOTIC [4Kids TV, Saturdays, 11:30 a.m.] represents the advance guard of an "entertainment brand specifically designed to unite the worlds of immersive story-telling, role-playing and technology" – in the form of a card game that brings together on-air, on-line and in-person game play. But that's yet to come. In the meantime, the animated series that acts as both an introduction to the game and a rousing fantasy adventure is here…

In CHAOTIC, Tom [codename: Major Tom] and his friend Kaz are dedicated players of a role-playing computer card game called "Chaotic Trading Card Game." When Tom's latest victory rewards him with a password, Kaz tells him that it will allow him to jump into the game and adventure there for real. Despite believing Kaz is nuts, Tom eventually enters the password – with truly strange results: when he is locked out of his computer, and his game scanner goes black, he throws it in the trash – and, simultaneously, when it works, he is transported to Chaotic, and finds himself playing in a match where he actually becomes his favorite game character, Maxxor!

But what about Tom and his junked scanner? After a couple of spine-tingling adventures [the premiere ended with a real cliffhanger], an explanation is given, and it's pretty weird [but also fun, like the series]. In the meantime, Tom has to adjust to the realities of the game world in which he finds himself. His success is hard won and creates new obstacles.

The world of the game has been developed pretty well. We learn that the one-of-a-kind codes on their trading cards are actually the DNA codes of those characters at the moment they were scanned. All locations, weapons and clothing have their unique codes, as well – thus the player can put various codes together to give his character specific abilities, weapons and armor.

Maxxor Card

The series does a good job of showing how's these things all work together, without boring us with tons of exposition – the idea here is to show, not tell [though some exposition is inevitable, it's kept to a necessary minimum]. Some basics: on Earth, CHAOTIC is strictly a popular trading card game; if you get a password, you will be transported to chaotic, where the game is played for real – in various Battledomes – the players transforming into actual battling Creatures. Perim – the world where much of the action of CHAOTIC takes place – is a place of magic, danger and adventure.

In this week's conclusion to the series premiere, Tom [as Maxxor] has to find a way to avoid defeat at the hands of Takinom and figure out how, if possible, to return home. Worse, he has to overcome his foe without help – leaving Kaz to look on helplessly.

I have no idea how the game will actually work, when it comes out later this spring, but CHAOTIC the series is not just the latest in a series of card-playing games turned TV shows. Unlike Pokemon and others of its ilk, CHAOTIC has been designed, from the beginning, to be a multi-platform entertainment. Another significant difference – especially in the TV series – is that the players don't stand there and unleash attacks from held cards, or through magic beasties. They actually transform into the various Creatures and fight using their own intelligence and knowledge.

CHAOTIC - Arias

The animation is about par for Saturday morning toons – limited, but with moments when more fluidity is required [and animated]. The look of the series is somewhere between Hanna-Barbera and Samurai Jack – and, at the same time, definitely influenced by the late Jack Kirby [a lot of that going around, and that's not a bad thing!].

The characters are pretty basic, as yet, but since the series is semi-serial in nature, I expect that they will grow and change as CHAOTIC progresses. The range of Creatures that can be played seems to be pretty wide – there are more than a half-dozen in the premiere. Overall, the writing is pretty decent – for a premiere, there wasn't an overabundance of exposition; a number of characters got enough development to make them sympathetic [or not!], and hints of the depth of the worlds involved were evident.

I think I'd have to see more to be sure the series has what it takes to succeed, but the two-part premiere is intriguing enough that I actually want to see more. That's always a good sign. At a guess, I'd say that CHAOTIC is aimed at the twelve-and-over crowd, and that it hits its target. To be continued? I hope so!

Grade: B

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