Yep, “ToeJam and Earl” are back in business again! That’s right, because the boys are back in a sequel that you all have been waiting for. Well,  at least if you can remember them from their original game that is.

toejam and earl back in the groove just chillin

The retro charm goes through the roof in “ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove”, and I’m not even exaggerating either. Because the game more or less takes you back to the 90s in the blink of an eye.

Yes, you read that right the first time. Because apparently, “ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove”  is a sequel to the 1991 Sega Genesis/Mega Drive “classic”, and is one very funky game (yes, the game looks, feels and sounds very 90ish-like).

toejam and earl back in the groove looking around for presents

The game’s visuals and animations are very colorful, charming, smooth and cool/fun looking.

Playing as one of several characters, ranging from ToeJam (a sort of ant) or Earl (a sort of yellow blob thing) to ToeJams love interest (Latisha) to Lewanda (another type of thing).

All of which have different characteristics ranging from how fast they move and the size of their health bar to how they cope with different presents and what their starting presents are.

toejam and earl back in the groove the mega funk zone

The Mega Funk Zone is just one out of the many mini-games that you can play in “ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove”.

Right off the bat, everything is very nicely animated and moves very smoothly in the game. Something of which is rather impressive considering the fact how much that’s going on in each isometric level.

And speaking of game levels, the main objective in the game is to find the parts to a recently “borrowed” Rapmaster Rocket. Once found, all that needs to be done is to find the elevator to the next level (that’s all there is to it really).

toejam and earl back in the groove the instructions menu

Just like in the good old days. Instructions are included in the game, and they are worthy of a read with no doubt.

If you find that to sound boring, then fair not! Because along the way, there are items to collect. Many, many items.  Money as well, but it’s mostly items – some are even secret, and you have to go into your inventory screen to see what they are.

toejam and earl back in the groove the character selection screen

This is what the character selection screen looks like, and you got quite a few characters to pick from once you’ve unlocked them all.

Furthermore, the items vary in what they do – and none are particularly obvious from the usual wacky names they are given.  They’re usefulness also varies, with results ranging from being able to jump really high to being continually sick for a while

Most items last a long time, so the only way to stop them is to use another item.

toejam and earl back in the groove looking around for adventure

The higher the level, the more difficult it gets in the game. So, git gud or get rekt!

I would also like to mention that items (and it can’t be iterated enough about how important the game thinks they are – even though you could probably complete most levels without using any) are to be found everywhere and in most things.

For example. Give a house a good shake, and with a little bit of luck, a bowling ball won’t fly out and hit you. Give a tree a shake and you may get any sort items ranging from money to food.

toejam and earl back in the groove ice ice baby

Vanilla Ice’s song “Ice Ice Baby” comes to mind.

The characters that you meet are incredibly varied as well, from monsters that are easily outwitted by hiding behind a sunflower, to others that want you to sign autographs.

There are also other mini-games as well to break up the search for the missing parts, ranging from rap battles to dice games.

toejam and earl back in the groove split screen

Yes, that’s right. You can indeed play in a split-screen mode in “ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove”.

In addition to that, there is also a “Mega Funk Zone”, where you move along a very  psychedelic path gaining points by correct moving through doors.

Other than that, collecting goodies earns you experience points, which lets you level up. This, in turn, enables you to randomly upgrade your specifications.

toejam and earl back in the groove looking for food

The voice acting and music are very good and entertaining throughout the game, and good thing that. Because there are tons of stuff that you can do in “ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove”.

There is also a multiplayer mode to be found in the game (for friends or for a wider sphere), but no-one seemed to be around, unfortunately…

So at this time, it’s very hard to say whether or not more people will try that the multiplayer mode in the future or not (it’s a very cool future nevertheless though).

toejam and earl back in the groove tons of presents

The biggest downside to “ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove” is with no doubt the fact that the gameplay tends to get pretty darn repetitive after a while.

So, to summarize and wrap everything up. At the end of the day, I have to say that “ToeJam & Earl : Back in the Groove” is a rather cool and interesting game with no doubt.

However, since the game is rather repetitive and suffers from a handful of downsides. I simply can’t give the game a higher grade than an “okay” (one thumb up if you will) at max.

Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of “ToeJam & Earl”, then the game is most likely worth picking up for sure.

Pros:
+ The game is very colorful, smoothly animated and quite funny.
+ Voice acting is good.
+ A lot to do, all of which is optional.
+ Tons of retro charm.
+ The soundtrack is very coolish.

Cons:
– Gets rather monotonous as nothing really changes – levels all look the same.
– Constantly being hit enemies gets annoying too.
– The in-game screen tends to get very cluttered.

Gameplay: 3/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound and music: 3/5
Controls: 3/5
Replay value: 3/5
Story: 3/5

tgg grade 3 out of 5

Verdict: 3/5
ToeJam & Earl : Back in the Groove’s graphics certainly can’t be faulted, but the game is probably too laid back for its own good.

Furthermore, the gameplay does get repetitive after a while, and with apparently no-one joining in a multiplayer game, searching for ship parts loses its luster after a while.

Even so, “ToeJam & Earl : Back in the Groove” might still be worthy of a try if you’re a fan of the series.

Title: ToeJam & Earl : Back in the Groove
Developer: HumaNature Studios
Format: PC
Genre: Isometric roguelike adventure
Resolution: User-defined
Release date: 2019-03-01
Difficulty: Gradual increase
Spent time: + 2 hours
Average grade internationally: 71.25% Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating:
+12
Price:  16.70 Euros via Steam

Credit:
Robin Ek – Editor

tgg author avatar Nicholas Kingsley
Nicholas Kingsley
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @sku_te

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