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Game Review #168: ToeJam and Earl: Back in the Groove! (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Jordan M.

Developer: HumaNature Studios

Publisher: HumaNature Studios/Limited Run Games

Category: Action/Platformer

Release Date: 03.01.2019

Price (at time of review): $19.99 (Digital) | $34.99 (Physical)

Buy ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! (Digitally) from the Nintendo eShop here.

Buy ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! (Physically until 3/30/10) from Limited Run Games here.

Who's Ready to Get Funky?

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! is a new addition to the ToeJam & Earl franchise. ToeJam & Earl, originally released on Sega Genesis in 1991, wasn't a huge commercial success. However, it and two other games released in the series would come to receive a cult-like following. Starting out as a campaign on Kickstarter, Back in the Groove! earned over half a million dollars toward its development project. In 2016, Adult Swim Games had agreed to provide additional funding, but later decided to back out as publisher. The game is now being solely released by HumaNature Studios, which is co-founded by Greg Johnson, co-founder of ToeJam & Earl Studios and original ToeJam & Earl game designer. Limited Run Games is releasing limited amounts of physical copies of the game in partnership with HumaNature.

Back in the Groove! starts out much like the original TJ&E. Our two favorite dudes, ToeJam and Earl, due to a little "mishap", have crashed a borrowed ship on Earth. They now must scour each area of Earth in search of parts, hoping to repair their borrowed ship. However, the guys aren't alone this time. Joining them on their journey are their two lady friends, Latisha and Lewanda. It’s possible to play as all four characters in co-op as you explore Earth together, making sure you dodge any pesky humans—and fix your ship before Lamont finds out what happened!

Shake Some Trees and Eat Old Cheese

The game is going to give you the option to not only play as an updated version of ToeJam or Earl with new outfits, but also as the classic Sega Genesis versions as well. There are also Latisha and Lewanda as playable characters, as well as three unlockable characters throughout the game. Each character has different stats and special abilities. Since he was always my favorite, I had to start with some classic Earl. Beginning on level one, or "floor" of Earth, your time is spent scouring each different map looking for parts of your vehicle and avoiding different types of enemies, all while searching for the elevator to take you up to the next map. Most of the enemies present would like nothing more than to ram into you and try to knock you back down to the previous area. Do be cautious.

Use your directional pad to move your character around the map. Walk up to any tree, plant, building, etc., and hit A to give it a good shake. This will reveal presents or money, or sometimes things you won't enjoy quite so much. Use B to open up your present menu. The presents you find have different abilities. Some can make you jump extra high or swim for a longer period of time, among other things. Some can also damage you, such as unidentifying other presents in your inventory. If you have a wise man on your map, he will identify presents for you—for a cost. You can use X to toggle the map on and off. Presents can also be purchased for different prices from mailboxes. If you're having trouble finding cash, don't worry, there will be many other options to earn some.

Earl, Wind, and Fire

The color and art design in this game is crisp and clean, and to me, is a perfectly updated version of the 1991 classic. All the different enemies are well-designed, and the different levels are just large enough to make the game not feel rushed. Different themed levels such as the desert and snow levels all have their own level of charm and are beautifully done. One of the best parts of the game, in my opinion, is when you get to visit the Hyperfunk Zone, allowing for all kinds of power-ups or XP. Just don't run out of time!

The soundtrack is exactly what you would want in a ToeJam & Earl game: lots of deep bass, some keys.... funky! Who knows, you may get to make your own beat or two!

Did They Get Their Groove Back?

The answer from me is yes. For anyone who played and enjoyed the original games from the nineties, this game will be awesome. ToeJam and Earl are just as funky as ever, and look fantastic. Having nine total playable characters is even better. The soundtrack is classic and should please anyone who is a fan of the series or a first time player. This is a game I was very interested in playing and seeing where they went with it, I don't think they disappointed.

I personally would have liked to see a few more elements from Panic on Funkotron, the second game in the TJ&E franchise, but I understand not a lot of people loved that game, and I am slightly biased due to having fond memories of playing it with a cousin (we sucked at that game, Chris.) That being said, I found this game a delight and a welcome return of the kings of funk. I hope this is not the last we see of our friends from Funkotron.

Score: 9/10

Buy ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! (Digitally) from the Nintendo eShop here.

Buy ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! (Physically until 3/30/10) from Limited Run Games here.

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*Review Code Provided by Stride PR

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