Review: Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove!

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Developer: HumaNature Studios
Publisher: HumaNature Studios
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC(Steam)
Price: $19,99 USD
Release Date: March 1st, 2019

It has finally arrived! Toejam and Earl, the cult-classic Mega Drive/Genesis game has been rebooted for all modern platforms. This time featuring full online and couch co-op, unlockables and tons of new enemies and presents.

For anyone not old enough to remember, Toejam and Early was one of the top co-op games in the 4th console generation. Exclusive to SEGA’s 16 bit console, T&E was an exploration game with fully randomized worlds. It was a technologically impressive game for the time, allowing up to two players to fully explore maps separately, even allowing them to be on two different levels simultaneously.

Story

Exactly as the last game, our alien protagonists crash into planet Earth and now must escape by finding the pieces to their space ship. Unlike last time, they’ve got extra company riding with them. Initial roaster includes both new and classic version for both Toejam and Earl, as well as Latisha and Lewanda. Three more unlockables complete the list with a total of 9 characters.

New characters.

Gameplay

The game flow is the exact same as the Genesis/Mega Drive title. Features from its lesser-known sequels also made it into Back in the Groove! such as Hyperfunk Zone.

The in-game menu includes a list of every enemy and every present available. It’s recommended you go through this list once so you will know what everything does. Quite a bit of variety here, not to mention the typical humor that you can only get from Kickstarter developers.

Leveling up has also been improved with stats and rewards. As with everything, it is all completely random.

Finally, you may unlock hats, new presents and new characters.

Sound

One of Toejam and Earl’s most notable features was the music. Everything in the game was tied to the style they were going for with the music. Back in the Groove! is no different, with remixes of the original songs as well as new funky tracks. The 16 bit synth music was left behind but the original soul is still the same.

Graphics

The game has been in development for a very long time and several screenshots have been shown over the years. The artstyle has remained the same, with hand drawn, bouncy sprites.

New features such as Night levels and Snow levels improve level variety.

Multiplayer

Couch co-op allows up to 2 players simultaneously. Online co-op is up to 4 players who may join freely. Certain presents only have an effect in co-op games.

Good old list of available rooms.

Downsides

Few games turn on my nostalgia goggles harder than Toejam and Earl, it was difficult to get used to the new style. However, everything in the game has so much thought put into it that I don’t mind this new and strange art style.

I had a small issue where the game received an update that messed up my current game when I attempted to resume it but it was no big deal.

Overall

How do you make a perfect sequel to an already pretty good game? Well, this was it. There are tons of small features that are intelligently implemented, everything blends nicely and the whole just feels like the product of love for video games. To put it bluntly, it has tons of soul. Waiting almost 5 years was worth it.

Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove!

Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove!

8.5

Final Grade

9/10

    Pros

    • Plays exactly like the original
    • Neat artstyle
    • Cheap
    • Online and couch co-op

    Cons

    • No 16bit synth music