Bring back the funk!
Whatup Yo? Erm...? Well, I was going to start with an amusing string of 'urban slang' as part of an introduction to this piece, but I suddenly realised how uncool I am and that I would end up sounding like Jessie from Breaking Bad ("Gatorade me, bitch!"). Anyway, gamers from the 16-bit era will know all about Toejam & Earl! Released on the Sega Mega Drive way back in 1991, this funky, exploration game was a breath of fresh air in a world populated by platformers and fighting games. A roguelike at heart, TJ&E tasked you with wandering around the cartoon landscape attempting to find pieces of your broken space ship whilst avoiding a selection of some of the most bizarre enemies ever seen in a videogame - rogue dentists, possessed mailboxes, giant hamster wheels and stampeding nerds to name but a few. Adding to the madness were unopened presents which, when opened, could grant you useful items such as speed-giving super hi-tops, extra health, icarus wings, or money. They could, unfortunately also contain deadly items such as enemies, rain clouds that would follow you, zapping you with lightning, or even instant death. The random nature of these presents, along with the randomised levels and ship piece placement resulted in a game with plenty of replay value. The two player split screen - which allowed both players to wander off and do their own thing - sealed the deal and Toejam & Earl went on to become a cult hit.
One of the first screenshots to appear shows off the multi-tiered stages
- try not to fall off the edge
A sequel followed a couple of years later but, due to tampering by publisher Sega, the format was switched to a standard 2D sidescroller and the magic was lost. A third game was due to be released on the Sega Dreamcast, but this never made it to release, instead being revamped and released exclusively on the Xbox. This installment, while returning to the style of the first game, was a big disappointment to fans and marked the end of the franchise... until now!
Yep, Toejam & Earl are coming back in a brand new title developed by Humanature Studios, which includes one of the developers of the original Mega Drive game. The team hope to go back to the roots of the series, bringing back the same multi-tiered stages, enemies, presents and gameplay style of the classic original, while adding many new features such as 4-player splitscreen gameplay and customisable characters that can level up and retain experience points earned in previous games! The game is still in early development but, judging on what I've seen so far, Toejam & Earl : Back In The Groove (as it is known) looks extremely promising. While I am personally not hugely enamoured with the new art style, it is constantly being revamped and improved based on fan feedback, so I have high hopes that the finished project will tick all the right boxes.
A newly released screenshot shows a new, more cartoony, visual style
- a big improvement over the first art style
The Kickstarter project has so far reached $278,000 of it's $400,000 target, with two weeks to go! So, if you want to see the funkadelic alien duo make a return, head on over to the Kickstarter page and throw some dollar dollar bills their way, y'all! Cough. The usual incentives apply, with a few dollars giving you a copy of the game, whilst insane donations over the $1,000 mark (all the way up to $10,000.. who on earth would do this???) will grant you some exclusive tat such as toys, t-shirts, blowjobs and mugs (note : one of those may not be true). The game will be launched on PC and Mac to begin with, with the possibility of other versions to follow.
The new game will bring back the same split-screen co-op mode of the first game
- only this time, four players can adventure together
To follow the progress of the games development or to donate towards the Kickstarter goal, click here, or check out the Facebook page, here. I will bring you more news of any major developments as it appears! In the meantime, why not go back and play the classic original, either on the Mega Drive or via the excellent ports released on PSN and Xbox Live. Go on, you know you want to!
Title : Toejam & Earl : Back In The Groove
Developer : Humanature
Release date : TBA
System : PC / Mac
Kickstarter Progress : $275,000 / $400,000 (14 days remaining)