With Clash of Clans-style base building and match-3 combat, Toon Squad from TangoMe adds a comical spin to two of the most popular genres on mobile. The free-to-play game features a wacky cast of characters to battle or collect, irreverent dialogue, and an endearing cartoon art style. The overall tone is casual, but the game offers some strategic opportunities for those seeking deeper gameplay.

Your tiny town has come under threat by “Lil’ Kim,” a tyrant looking to conquer and plunder everything around him, so you’ll need to build up your town using oil and cash resources. As you’ve come to expect from such games, gems will help you speed up wait times or purchase more resources as needed. A “Secret Gift” box also awards free speedup bonuses, cash, and oil, in varying time intervals.

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Quite early in the building process, I could feel the tension of resource allocation. Each building upgrade was tightly tied to a series of other requirements that compromised my feeling of potential strategy or authority. However, this structured pacing might appeal to those who are more interested in combat or collecting, without having to agonize about their base development.

From the tutorial, you’ll receive some Toons to start your Team. Toons are based on the elements of Fire, Water, Earth, Night, Light and Rock. A strong team will include a mix of elements, as each Toon has certain combat strengths and weaknesses. You’ll earn Toons in battle or you can try your luck at Toon Grabs and spin for a chance to get common or rare Toons for your collection.

Though spinning for rare items is a notorious money pit in free-to-play games, I was pleasantly surprised to win rare Toon Sgt. Leaf on my first free spin.

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As you acquire more Toons, your residence will fill up. You can offload weak or duplicate Toons by selling them for cash or using them to enhance a stronger teammate through fusion in the Laboratory. Fusion systems can sometimes be complicated or confusing, but Toon Squad’s Enhance option was intuitive and effective for quickly personalizing and powering up my team strategically.

Toon Squad offers both multiplayer and single-player battle campaigns. In a campaign, you’ll face a series of Toons with different elemental strengths and weaknesses. Battling is comprised of moving elemental “orbs” on a small Candy Crush-style puzzle board to increase hit points through matching combinations. The puzzles alone aren’t innovative and may not keep the match-3 enthusiast interested for long, but because each Toon deals different damage based on elements, you can modify your tactics based on the board layout and the enemy you’re facing. You can also set your own battle pace as you move through the puzzles.

Defeating an enemy results in a Toon drop, which will quickly add value to your team.

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Though high-scoring combinations yield festive visual fanfare, the actual battle animation is amusingly stark. The tiny Toons stand still until their turn, and then enact a quick jab with a spear or shoot a handful of bullets with varying damage based on the combos. Ultimately, however, battling is engaging and satisfying as you master new tactics against enemies and collect awarded Toons.

Toon Squad’s social features are robust and can easily engage even reclusive players. Build a Squad Headquarters (H.Q.) and you’ll find dozens of open squads to join, even if your own team isn’t yet a top contender. Once you’ve joined a squad, donate or request a Toon for help in battle. Send or answer a “help” request to speed up building, healing or enhancing times. Chat includes Global, Squad and Private conversations that can be muted, along with Customer Service directly within the window.

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Multiplayer matching had some limitations, as I was alternately matched with teams much higher or lower than mine. However, a small feature I appreciated was the ability to message to my opponent after battle, which made me feel a little better after their complete annihilation.

Overall, Toon Squad offers an intuitive base-building experience with a casual, accessible battle mechanic. The cartoony aesthetic and humorous writing will add some wackiness to your day, the strong social elements will draw you into the community, and your loony Toon team will keep you coming back to collect and battle.