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Review: ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove!

Title: ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove!

Genre: Action, General

Modes: Single / Multiplayer

Developer: Humanature Studios

Platform(s): PC, Switch (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4

Release: February 15, 2019

Funky, Bodacious, Oh Snap! and Radical! are just some of the words that come to mind when I think about ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! This game is a Roguelike dungeon crawler that was developed by a not so well-known studio (at least to me) by the name of HumaNature Studios, founded by a man named Greg Johnson - the almighty father of ToeJam & Earl. Seeing this game developed by a studio run by the originator of the series definitely gives me the warm fuzzies. Once you start it up you can immediately tell it was created by the same person. The music, the characters, the atmosphere; it all just feels so so right. If you’re ready, follow me.

The Tip and the Top

When playing this game I couldn't help but think back to the good ole days of sitting up in my room, a Dew and Doritos 3D at the ready, just jamming out to the dynamite soundtrack of the original ToeJam & Earl. This newest entry in the series is ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! and boy is that name fitting. Everything you remember from the original T&E is back, but it’s all cranked up to 11. The music is fantastic! The whole time I was playing this game I kept finding myself doing a little jig while sitting on my couch. My girlfriend who normally just falls asleep whenever I play games even pointed out how good the music was.

The level design is simple but not underwhelming. There are plenty of humans, bushes, houses and random objects for you to interact with throughout the level. You’ll also encounter hidden areas and magically appearing ground that leads you to either a new area or some teleporters.

The game is simple: you explore an area while finding presents that aid you on your journey while avoiding interaction with humans and trying to find your missing spaceship parts.

Nostalgia definitely plays a factor when playing T&E:BITG because its roots run deep, but don’t let that fool you. There is still plenty of new features to come with it. There’s also couch co-op that adds a whole other layer to the game. There’s something to say about local co-op modes. There’s nothing I enjoy more than scavenging a torn apart earth, looking for crazy, wacky presents with the people closest to me.

The Flip and the Flop

This game will take you back to a simpler day while still adding to your experience, but it seems like it’s leaving something out. Eventually the environments get stale and the enemies (humans) grow old; not really evolving as you play but rather repeating the same monotonous steps over and over until you find that last spaceship part. The levels change and they even add in different climates but it just feels like it it’s not enough. Each step of the way you’re avoiding humans on the same 3D platform, searching for presents and paying tolls. The characters have a variety of stats but all in all it doesn’t seem to matter, you still end up doing the same thing with all of them.

Final Grade: B-

Although the game is fun, I couldn’t fully commit to it. It’s not the same level of enjoyment as it once was for me. One might say that it feels like I’ve grown up, and ToeJam & Earl... hasn’t.



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