Do not be deceived by the above gallery. This is not a prank or a proof of concept. StarCraft: Cartooned is now live at Blizzard’s online store as an official $10 add-on to 2017’s StarCraft Remastered. It redraws every single piece of art in the classic RTS game to look and animate like a children’s cartoon, without otherwise changing the core gameplay.
Specifically, StarCraft: Cartooned looks like a Carbot Animations cartoon—because the YouTube channel in question, operated by Canadian artist and animator Jonathan Burton, was tapped to create Blizzard’s first full cosmetic overhaul mod for a retail game.
The Cartooned DLC does not add any new gameplay or mechanical content to the StarCraft Remastered package. Instead, it transforms every single graphical element in the game, from menus to sprites to between-mission briefings, to look like the Carbot Animations animated series “StarCrafts,” now in its seventh season on YouTube. (Carbot’s YouTube channel also includes unofficial animated series based on Blizzard game series Diablo and WarCraft.)
As you can see in the above gallery, all of Burton’s existing designs have been translated into the working game in their silly, bulbous, flat-shaded glory. In fact, they saw their gameplay world premiere last month at an official StarCraft tournament in South Korea, where pro players tested the mod and confirmed that, yes, silly as it looks, this mod otherwise delivers pure SC: Brood War action.
Burton says that Blizzard’s work on
StarCraft Remastered paved the way for his mod to become a reality, since the updated engine supports a complete sprite swap without disrupting the core gameplay. (That’s in essence
how the original Remastered release works, anyway.) And unlike
Carbot’s 2016 StarCraft 2 mod, which only redrew assets within that sequel’s limited arcade mode, today’s new mod smothers the full
StarCraft Remastered experience in Burton’s redrawn characters.
A few original assets remain, like FMV sequences and some interstitial art at the beginning of each campaign. Otherwise, you’ll find a ridiculous amount of redrawn cartoon material—even in the between-mission briefings. In those, you’ll see Burton’s full treatment look its silliest as the game’s original, dramatic music and voice acting play out over childish art. Having tested the mod briefly before filing this report, I would argue that this is an entirely new way to experience the game, if only because of how easy it is to follow Burton’s bold, primary-color designs as battles get hectic and Zerglings rush en masse.
Reminder: If you’re simply itching for classic
StarCraft: Brood War action, either single-player or online, and don’t care how it looks, you can grab the complete, original game in its 480p, 4:3 ratio glory
for free at Battle.net. From there, you’ll have to buy both the
StarCraft Remastered upgrade (
$15, if you don’t already have it) and the
StarCraft: Cartooned mod (
$10) to take your classic
StarCraft experience to a Saturday-morning level.
Listing image by Blizzard Entertainment / Carbot Animations