Platforms: Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch

Release Date: March 1st, 2019

Reviewed On: Steam

Developer: HumaNature Studios

Publisher: HumaNature Studios/Limited Run Games(Physical version on PS4 and Switch)

Price: $19.99 USD

Before I get into this review, I want to let the reader know that I have never played a ToeJam and Earl game before I got my hands on this one. When those games originally came out on the Sega Genesis my parents didn’t want me to play any games with rapper like characters. Instead, I played Ecco the Dolphin and Mortal Kombat 2. My parents just didn’t understand, I guess. Now that I have experienced ToeJam and Earl: Back in the Groove, I would love to go back and play those older games.

Story

The story is very simple. ToeJam and Earl “borrowed” a space ship from their friend, Lamont, who didn’t know his ship went missing. On their journey they reach the planet Earth. Enticed by those groovy beats coming from the planet, they stay in orbit for a bit. Here’s the problem with that though, they press the wrong button and send themselves and Earth into a black hole. The story is that simple and it leads to some fun and sometimes frustrating gameplay. 

After you have fallen into the black hole the basic idea is to find all ten pieces of the ship. When you find all those pieces, you’ll be sent back home to planet Funkotron. That is – if you can stay away from all those pissed-off Earthlings and other creatures trying to hurt you. The story is simple and it doesn’t really take long to complete a world. The story is meant to get you – the player – back into the groove of this nostalgia filled trip.

 

Graphics

I played this game on my Macbook using Steam. The game looks great and I never had any problems with the frame rate. I went from the big screen mode to a smaller screen and it worked beautifully. Graphically, ToeJam and Earl: Back in the Groove is an homage to those days back in the 90’s where we would sit and watch hours of Nickelodeon cartoons. It warmed my heart to be able to go back in time with this game. The characters are well drawn as are the smaller details of the ship. The bright colors of the game worked very well with the 90s theme and I only had one problem. That one thing I would complain about is the rather drab levels. The same houses and trees placed over and over again. Maybe we could off have had some cool monuments that you would find around the planet. This is a solid-looking game that made me wish I could have played in on the Switch or other console as well as Steam.

Gameplay

I initially used a DualShock 4 controller for this game. I really didn’t want to play this game with a mouse and keyboard. So how did this game work out for me? Pretty well, actually. The gameplay is rather easy once you use the tutorial that is provided. The gameplay really is as simple as taking on the role of one of the many alien characters available and search for pieces of the crashed ship.

Being a mostly helpless alien, you have to rely on presents to give you different abilities or teleport you away from the enraged Earthlings.  I didn’t really enjoy being helpless during my time playing. These presents could only do so much before you either died or got knocked off of the level you were on. The only thing you can really do is hide behind plants and hope no one sees you. I was a Mortal Kombat kid who really wanted to see a mode where ToeJam or Earl could at least push an earthling away. The different presents do help; it just seems like it was easier for me to run to each elevator and avoid anything without collecting money or anything else that would help. It’s not the best way to play this game – it was just the less frustrating way to play after I met the lady pushing the shopping cart. She knocked me off a level more than once. I hate that lady and her shopping cart; she is and forever will be my nemesis.

The reason my review was not published on day one is a simple problem. I had no one to play with online. Not being able to try out the co-op during the review period sucked. That is, until the day before the game was released. I finally found someone to play with. In fact, I found two players. What I found out during my time was that I enjoyed playing with someone else more than alone. The game was harder and it became difficult to communicate when the other player dropped down a level. The chaos of the game was just so mush more fun when enjoying it with someone else. Everything else the game provides from the unlockables to the actual menu was great. Seeing the people who helped back this game included into it was such a cool idea. HumaNature did a great job bringing these characters back into a world that is so focused on Fortnite and Apex Legends lately.

 

Audio

I usually turn the sound off after a while for most games I play. With those games the audio just doesn’t do anything for me and I don’t need it to enjoy my experience. ToeJam and Earl: Back in the Groove is quite the opposite. It is actually one of those games that made me feel that I had to keep the sound up. The groovy music kept me locked in the mood to play this game. It also helped me go back in time to when life was a littler simpler and Will Smith was still just the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  Cody Wright is the man behind the music of this game. He does such a great job that I never needed to touch my Spotify account. The small amount of voice acting that was in the game is a nice feature and does not take away from the music of the game.

 

Verdict

 

This is not a game for everyone. Some players will get annoyed with the bright colors and groove music. Fortunately, I was not one of those players. After 17 years since the last Toejam & Earl title, I feel that we got a great game this time around. The wait was worth it, in my opinion, even though I never played the original games. Now that I have played this game on Steam, I want the chance to play it with friends on consoles. Thank you, Greg Johnson, for going out and getting this game made. I had a great time and I highly recommend this game.

Game provided by the developer.