ToeJam & Earl


Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 7

Sound: 10

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 9

Sega, you've surprised me again!  There I was, expecting this much-heralded cart to be a stupid kiddie game, and next thing I know, I'm locked away for a weekend with only a bag of chips, a bottle of Coke, and Toe Jam & Earl cranking on the Genesis.  It's rare that a game with such fad-conscious mechanics comes off being truly original, but it does, and it's an excellent 2 player game to boot.

The story behind the game is a simple one - two aliens crash on Earth, and must find the ten pieces of their ship to get back to their home planet.  The pieces are scattered among 25 increasingly difficult levels.  That's where the standard stuff ends and the fun begins, you see, because in Toe Jam & Earl, Earth is portrayed as a wildly surreal planet.  Defying Christopher Columbus' discovery that the world is round, you will find yourself falling off of the edge several times a game.  The creatures of Earth consist mostly of characters out of a nightmare - A crazed dentist with a drill, women with shopping carts, a giant hampster confined to its rolly-ball, stampeding packs of nerds, even the boogie-man himself!  There are twenty different types of earthlings, each with their own unique characteristics.

The saving grace of this unforgiving planet are the presents you will find scattered about.  Most of these will help you in some way.  The super-hitops increase your speed.  The boombox makes the earthlings dance for awhile.  The telephone allows you to peek at some of the areas you haven't explored yet.  There are many, many others.  Not all of the presents are beneficial, but there is a wise man that can identify your presents (at a price) before you use them.

The digitized sound effects are all very well done.  I must say that this cart has some of the most bizarre (and humorous) sound effects I've ever heard in a game.  The bogie-man's "BOOOGIE-BOOGIE-Boogie-bogie", the chorus "Hallelujah!" that sounds when you are healed or find the last piece of the ship, and the snoring and wake-up call you hear when you fall asleep are all top-notch.  No single enemy in any videogame has ever sounded as sinister as the dentist when he pokes you with his drill.  His maniacal laughter is a real gem.  Add to these outstanding effects a two player jam session demo and some pretty upbeat background music, you'll find this game scores very high in the audio department.

Let's talk graphics.  It's obvious that this game is trying to capture that cartoonish look, so many of the Genesis' graphic strong points are overlooked.  I would have to say that Toe Jam & Earl's graphics could be compared to a very good Nintendo game.  The difference, however, is in the animation, which is very smooth throughout.  There are so many different motions that these characters go through (sleeping, hula-dancing, diving, running with hitops, sneaking on tippy-toes, etc.) that the rather barren background graphics are overlooked.

Finally, the real high point of the game: the two-player option.  Playing with one person is OK, but the entire game takes on a new perspective when a friend plays along.  In many areas teamwork pays off greatly, and if you want to play competetively, try going your separate ways.  The screen splits when the team breaks up, and joins together when they are near.  The "random game" option keeps this cart from ever getting repetitious, because the contents of presents, their location, the location of the ship pieces, and the geography change with every game.  I can't see myself ever getting really bored with this cart.  It's unique, fun-to play (especially with a friend), and has one of the best endings I've ever seen in a game.

TIP: There's a secret level hidden beneath level 1!  Using either the innertube or the Icarus wings, move all the way to the bottom left corner of the map on level one.  In the center of the island there is a hole leading to level 0.  Drop down into it and hang out with the hula-girls.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:34 PM