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ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! review
by GameItAll

While the Sega Genesis had plenty of mascots during its run, but none were more of a representation of the 90’s than that of ToeJam and Earl; two aliens from the planet Funkotron who looked and spoke like they would have fit perfectly as Nickelodeon kid shows back in the days of Rocco Modern Life and Hey Arnold.

The games themselves were fun, kid friendly adventures with unique humour and animation. However after two games, the funky duo left the scene, until a recent resurgence thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring them back with developers HumaNature Studios at the helm, an indie studio run by one of the creators of the original series.

With ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove releasing today, we wonder if time has been kind to the funky Aliens or did the bass line drop a long time ago? ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove has our titular aliens flying around in their decked out spaceship (the Rapmaster Rocket) on a date with their sweethearts Latisha and Lewanda, flying around Earth while blasting some funky beats when they accidentally destroy the planet with a black hole generator. The ship then crashes and breaks into 10 pieces which is up to the group to navigate the broken pieces of the Earth to put everything back together.

It’s hard to describe a game like ToeJam & Earl, at its core it plays like a roguelike adventure game with randomly generated levels, items and enemies thrown into the mix, yet the action comes from avoiding dangers and finding the quickest path to get all 10 pieces of the Rapmaster. In fact, I worry about making the game sound kind of boring by putting in words when in fact, the game is an absolute joy to play.

This is mainly thanks to the game’s unique style. As one of nine playable characters, each with different stats and abilities (such as Earl’s ability to eat rotten food), players will have can move around a chunk of broken the Broken Earth which is randomly generated with Earthlings which can provided either danger, annoyances or be helpful. These can range from internet trolls, Alien fans, jackhammering construction workers, hula girls, to even Gandhi, each character is cartoonish in their own right and add a bit of charm as you explore the world.

To help our friendly aliens on their journey, they’re given a variety of presents to use, each with a different effect. Like the Earthlings that you have to deal with, some are helpful, annoying to just rude. Presents are always unknown when you first pick them up, but unwrapping them will instantly use the item, helpful or harmful, and give a slight amount of XP.

The thing is, when you’re playing ToeJame and Earl: Back in the Groove, you’re really playing a modern version of the Genesis classic. This is by all means not a bad thing as it comes with a large variety of improvements such as smoother animation and better controls which makes the roguelike gameplay and the randomly generated levels more appreciated.

The game is short; as it took me around 3 hours to complete my first playthrough, but the ability to unlock new characters and couch co-op gameplay, not to mention the charm of the game, makes it easy to come back to for family game time.

ToeJam and Earl is a great kids game with plenty of charm for adults who grew up on the funky aliens to enjoy. It’s easy to pick up and play with a great multiplayer and doesn’t out stay its welcome. If you haven’t played a ToeJam and Earl game, this is definitely a great starting point, and if you’re already a fan, you’re going to love Back in the Groove.
«Just one more turn»
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