Every once in a while we see old game franchises come back out of the blue. In the case of Toejam and Earl, the last official game was on the Xbox in 2002’s ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth.
The original Toejam and Earl for the Sega Genesis stands as a beloved classic amongst fans and was never played by me till much later as I was on the side of the Super Nintendo. The general thoughts about the series are that it is very laid back and quirky as all hell. HumaNature Studios, which is founded by Greg Johnson (original creator of Toejam and Earl) are bringing the franchise back to the masses for the first time in 17 years with Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove, and with it comes back the feelings of nostalgia for gaming in the early 1990s.
The game saw it’s initial production start in 2013 and with it came a Kickstarter campaign which raised $508,637 for the production costs. Originally slated for a 2015 release, the game would see the game pushed back of course to 2019.
The story to Toejam and Earl is straightforward. TJ and Earl are flying to Earth with Latisha and Lewanda and instead of turning on a massive subwoofer, Earl accidentally hits a button that generates a black hole where Earth was. Their ship is sucked into the black hole and is ultimately destroyed and the pieces of it are scattered among the busted planet, your job is to construct it and escape.
The game is very simple in nature. From the get-go, you have 6 playable characters to choose from, with 3 more unlockable, each with unique stats that can help you travel through the 25 randomly generated stages in search of the 10 missing ship pieces. Once you grab the 10th piece, you essentially beat the game. Each game you play will be 100% unique as each level is randomly generated.
That’s not to say that collecting the pieces of the ship is easy, because between you and that sweet sweet freedom are a plethora of angry earthlings and other quirky creatures! You have to be careful with travelling because not only can you take damage from everything if you are near a ledge, an enemy can know you off the ledge and send you back to the stage below! That is why it is important to keep an eye out for the presents lying around.
The presents can either help or hinder you. They range from helpful items such as slingshots, doorways to ship pieces to items that can hinder you such as rocket shoes that may send you flying off the ledge. You always have to be careful of what presents to open.
At the end of the day, Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove does exactly what it sets out to do. It is a faithful sequel to the series that will see its fans content. While I thought the game was fun, I did get bored with lack of variation pretty quick. I think the $20 price tag is perfect though and if you are a fan of the original game, you probably shouldn’t pass this one up. If you aren’t a massive fan, I would say to hold off for a sale to grab it up.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*