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ToeJam & Earl

Developer: Johnson Voorsanger Productions Publisher: Sega
October 1991
Glitchwave rating
3.40 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
123 Ratings / 2 Reviews
#1,328 All-time
#15 for 1991
Two aliens crash land on Earth and must find the pieces of their broken rocket ship to fly back home.
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This game is sort of looked on as a classic game of the Genesis era and has two iconic characters, but I feel this game hasn't aged very well. You basically go into randomized areas and have to find missing parts to your ship and after you reach the final area you win. The game is hard as hell, your character moves super slow and enemies often can run at you and get in cheap hits. You get random powers that can help you out, but only 2 or 3 are really helpful. The game gets repetitive and by the time you've reached the 5th floor you'll want the game to be over soon. The game does have good things, the enemy design in this is pretty creative and something you'd see in some bizarre cartoon, the music is catchy, the random design does give the game some replay, and the ability to switch between 2 characters is decent. But I feel like the slow movement and repetitive nature of the game just shows that it hasn't aged well and this game always feels ancient whenever I play it, even though its not even that old.
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jweber14 2017-07-21T22:28:05Z
2017-07-21T22:28:05Z
3.0
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Title
Ahh, the MDs own zany co-op roguelike. Fun times were had, fun times indeed. At first glance, ToeJam & Earl seems to be a quite incomprehensible game. The setup is that these two cartoony aliens have crashed on Earth, and must find all the ship pieces to get back to their home planet. However, the Earth they've landed on appears more alien than TJ & E themselves do. This is one of the really charming points of the game. It's like they came up with the idea of humans crashing on an alien planet, but then reversed the idea and made Earth seem alien instead. Earth as depicted by TJ&E is flat, not round, and you'll meet various NPCs, some good but most of them are bad and will hinder your progress or even kill you. The levels are randomly generated, consists of presents that hold hidden random items, and each level has an elevator that leads to the next level (and possibly a ship piece). You could fall down into space at any point, which would put you back at previous level, at the same point on the map as where you fell.

The contents in terms of design and presentation are pretty out there, but they're out there in a way that's quite low-key, and in this sense TJ&E is more endearing than crazy. There's some funky music, hardly any text, and NPCs are out of place, but not exactly super weird. Some of the weirder NPCs include armies of chickens, oogey boogey men, and fat opera singer ladies. I think the contents could let down or bore some players, but others like me enjoy this take on absurdism which is more situational and gameplay-driven. What makes TJ&E hilarious is not things like dialogue, gags, weird character design ETC... it's the situations you get put into which is a combination of player input, randomness, and the silly presentation. The heart of the gameplay system lies in the interaction between its components: the player, the effect of presents, the terrain, and the NPCs. This interaction is absolutely top notch and if you have the taste for the kind of experience TJ&E offers, it could well result in some of the funniest gaming moments you'll ever have. The basic gameplay doesn't consist of much. You can strut (slowly, and Earl is even slower than ToeJam...), run (belt-scrolling style, so if you run horizontally then you can hardly move vertically), and jump, which is pretty tough to control. You also have a healthbar, a set of extra lives, and no continues, so you need to beat the game in one go. You're meant to be totally defenseless without presents, which becomes increasingly apparent as the difficulty rises.

Going into the gameplay more, I'll talk a bit about what the presents do. Presents are randomly scattered around each level, collecting them will eventually fill up your inventory, so at some point you need to start using them. However, you don't know what's inside the present at first. There are many different kinds of present boxes, and while the same box will always hold the same item during the game, you don't know which present holds which item when you start a game, since that's random. Opening a present uses an item that will affect you (and your partner, if they're close enough) immediately, and the effects could be terrible, amazing, or anywhere in between. One item will just instantly kill you, another spawns a rain cloud which hangs over you and occasionally fires lightning at you. The worst present in the game is the randomizer, which resets all of the progress you've made identifying presents. Due to the existence of the randomizer, beyond a certain point, it gets increasingly more dangerous to use unidentified presents, assuming you haven't identified the randomizer. There are also "individual" surprise presents which doesn't belong to any present groups, so using these is always a crapshoot and you should probably identify them unless you're really desperate. The best presents are things like promotions, which levels you up. Leveling up will give you a new title. You start out as Weiner, but you can level up to Dufus, Poindexter, etc etc... Eventually reaching FunkLord. Sometimes leveling up gives you an extra life, too. You always get experience just by exploring and using presents, but it'll be a pretty slow process compared to just using a promotion. Other great presents includes Icarus Wings, which lets you fly around, and the Boombox, which causes all enemies on screen to dance to the music. You won't actually kill enemies without using presents, and it's generally a better idea to escape from enemies than to try to erase them.

There's also food and currency, and differences in terrain. Good food, like Hamburgers, replenishes your health. Bad food like Cabbage hurts you. Food is randomly scattered across each level. You can find bucks on the ground or in presents, but either way there's not too many opportunities to spend them. Some NPCs can be paid for their services. I think the most important use is to identify your presents at every opportunity you find, but sometimes you'll go through many levels without being able to. On the other hand, I don't recommend using the mailboxes. First of all, oftentimes mailboxes are enemies in disguise, the most dangerous enemy in the game, even. Secondly, all you can do is buy presents, which is usually rather expensive and it's rare to be able to buy anything you need, anyway. The terrain can be very different from level to level. some worlds will just be a giant hub of grass without much else besides a road. Sometimes however you'll get massive amounts of pits which increases the danger of enemies since they push you when they hurt you, lots of water (swimming is possible, but you can drown and there might be sharks. It's recommended to have an innertube) or quicksand. Some levels even have islands that you won't get to without spending presents or getting lucky with tornadoes.

Now, my recommendation for playing ToeJam & Earl is to do it with a friend. Playing it alone is okay, but it isn't going to be very challenging once you get the gist of how to play, and TJ&E is really slowpaced. Multiplayer adds a fun dynamic that I think plays an important role. In multiplayer, you both share the same screen as long as you're both close together, but if you split paths the game turns into split screen. You can do things to help each other, but you can also do things that will harm the both of you. If you split paths and explore different parts of the levels, you actually gain experience separately. You share the same inventory, and if you use a present, it'll affect the both of you unless you have split screen. Plenty of surprise presents can result in some pretty chaotic gameplay. Rocket Skates! I've played TJ&E with many different people, and my experience is that too much experience hinders the fun, since the game is quite easy and so slow. If you're too good at it, it's no longer all that fun, since you'll play strategically to reduce the amounts of funny moments that'll occur. So find yourself a partner or two, preferably about as inexperienced as yourself, and enjoy the game while it lasts. I love TJ&E since I've had some unforgettable co-op sessions. Unfortunately it suffers the same fate as Goof Troop, playing casually is only fun the first few times since when you're too good, the game is loses a lot of its excitement as you reduce the amount of crazy situations. The novelty wears thin eventually. TJ&E does have replay value thanks to its randomness, but I can't guarantee that it stays fun after several playthroughs. It's still an awesome game. The aesthetic and humour is rad. the situations can be utterly hilarious. Falling asleep due to reading a book, only to get drilled by a dentist. Moles stealing your promotions! Panicking and going through unidentified presents... surprise rocket skates! Surprise randomizer! That moment when the tornado randomly takes you to an island with the ship piece... Definitely one of the must-plays on the Genesis, it may appear slow-paced or clunky but ToeJam & Earl is a charming classic that is as unique as it is fun. Upon finishing the game and going back to your home planet, you are treated to a really great ending, one of the better in any game I've ever played. It's unusual and really quite wonderful, and it all comes back to my first point in this review.
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If there is a better title with collaborative gameplay then I am yet to see it. Funny, infuriating and utterly charming.
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Paulie_Jay 2016-04-11T02:43:39Z
2016-04-11T02:43:39Z
5.0
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Catalog

LukeBrassai ToeJam & Earl 2022-07-01T23:27:30Z
2022-07-01T23:27:30Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Copkiller187 ToeJam & Earl 2022-06-06T15:11:17Z
Mega Drive/Genesis • XEU
2022-06-06T15:11:17Z
3.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Noidson ToeJam & Earl 2022-05-24T08:58:20Z
2022-05-24T08:58:20Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Nagual ToeJam & Earl 2022-05-20T12:01:59Z
Windows
2022-05-20T12:01:59Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Sinninginpink ToeJam & Earl 2022-05-05T09:18:58Z
2022-05-05T09:18:58Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
xtremedante ToeJam & Earl 2022-05-01T20:23:38Z
2022-05-01T20:23:38Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
roguelite alien absurdist comedy parody genesis
megadave83 ToeJam & Earl 2022-04-25T19:44:40Z
2022-04-25T19:44:40Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
roccot ToeJam & Earl 2022-04-25T00:55:26Z
2022-04-25T00:55:26Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
QuietThings430 ToeJam & Earl 2022-04-21T03:06:38Z
2022-04-21T03:06:38Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LukeofURL ToeJam & Earl 2022-04-06T14:23:10Z
Mega Drive/Genesis • XNA
2022-04-06T14:23:10Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
CIB
_svpxn_ ToeJam & Earl 2022-02-21T10:16:36Z
Mega Drive/Genesis • XEU
2022-02-21T10:16:36Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
BofaDeezyEZPZ ToeJam & Earl 2022-02-02T18:26:34Z
2022-02-02T18:26:34Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Player modes
1-2 players
Media
1x Cartridge
Multiplayer modes
Cooperative
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Also known as
  • トージャム&アール
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  • PoisonYad 2019-08-07 11:35:32.761904+00
    i love how this is 17 years behind the first actual roguelite lol
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  • ... 2020-07-08 15:40:25.239822+00
    i love how this is 17 years ahead of the second roguelite lol
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  • slib 2020-12-28 06:44:35.834596+00
    I love how regardless of where it fits into the roguelite timeline it's still good lol
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