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Retro Replay: ToeJam and Earl

Welcome to Retro Replay, a series in which I play games from SNES and SEGA era and share my experiences. Speaking of which, I recently stumbled upon the Sega Genesis Classics collection on the Nintendo Switch. I won’t go into great detail about what’s inside of this collection but it’s quite the riot. One minor feature that blows my mind, is that you have to virtually take the game you want to play off a shelf and put it into the virtual Genesis… so clever.

image from Nintendo.com
image from Nintendo.com

Let’s get into the two games on the big board: “ToeJam and Earl” and “ToeJam and Earl in Panic on FunkOTron“!

These two games bring back a flood of memories for me. The mall where I bought the second game from, the moment the guy behind the counter said “Are you sure you want this kid?…. It’s total crap compared to the first one.”, bringing it home and starting to realize just how wrong that guy was… the music…. and SHAKE. BOOM. CLAP. excellent! My brother and I once spent an entire weekend trying to beat this game. Which lead to way too many arguments about who gets to eat all of the cake. Pardon me… got a little carried away reminiscing.

I just have sooo many memories of the ToeJam and Earl in Panic on FunkOTron that when I finally was able to play the first one, I was super disappointed.

The original looked and played completely different than I was expecting. I’m sure, at that time, I was thinking “Boy these graphics look like crap in comparison and where the heck is all the action!”. It wasn’t until this latest play through that I now realize how wrong I was.

As an old man, when it comes to these two games, my mind has pulled a complete 180.

After reflecting on playing these games way back when vs this most recent play through, the answer to why my mind flipped became very clear. I had a major change in preference. The fast pace hunter vs hunted gameplay of the second game vs the slow methodical movements of the first… as a younger man the ToeJam and Earl in Panic on FunkOTron gameplay was more appealing. It appears that as I got older I shifted to enjoying the other gameplay style better.

Which one is worth your time today?

Frankly both. Now I can’t say this for all of the games that have a sequel but what truly makes the original special is what is emphasized in the follow up. Enlarged graphics and thrown into our faces, loud obnoxious humans to chase, and a color palette that screams COOL and FAR OUT to name a few. The top down design, limited color palette, and slower more exploratory gameplay of the original lead to a deeper overall experience for me. If you think otherwise, I would love to hear why… so don’t be a stranger… tell me in the comments!!

So why else am I writing about ToeJam and Earl today?

I went googling after I started playing these games again and found out that there is a brand new game being made. The release of Toe Jam and Earl: Back in the Grove is tonight. I will be live streaming it over on Twitch. See you there at 12 AM PST March 1st! Come join in on what will be quite the entertaining night of JAMMIN’ and AWESOME fun.

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