Tuesday, February 5, 2008

ToeJam and Earl

As I mentioned in my review of Phantasy Star 2, there were very few games for the Sega Genesis I was interested in. Along with PS2, there was ToeJam and Earl. It's probably the weirdness factor that drew me to this one.

See, through the long intro you learn that ToeJam and Earl are extremely funky aliens from the planet Funkotron who crash land on earth. The idea of the game is the wander around until you find the pieces of the space ship in order to return. Funky.

Starting Out

First, this game already has one impressive feature: the game levels are randomly generated every time you start a new game, in a sense offering plenty of replay value. I really wish more games would do this, as the Genesis pulled it off in 1991 with 1/100th of the power today's consoles have.

Anyway, I chose to play as ToeJam, the weird skinny red alien with three legs. I start off on a small island area surrounded by water with presents scattered around. Once the presents are collected, they're accessible from a menu, but there's a catch. There's no indication whatsoever as to the contents. And as I so quickly learned by dying from ripping open a present, the contents aren't always good.

After that unfortunate lesson learned, I find an elevator that takes me up another level. Upon leaving the elevator, I'm informed that there's a piece of the spaceship on this level. Cool.

Finding it's not entirely easy though, since there are fat little devil characters wandering around who seem to like the jam pitchforks into me.

Fortunately, I do find a present with tomatoes in it to throw at them. Apparently this is the only real weapon in the game.

Some brief exploration later and I've found the top fin for the ship. Time to get in an elevator and head up again.

Elevator Going Up

After heading up a few levels, things start to get complicated. See, every level is an island and it's entirely possible to fall off and land on the previous one which can get a little annoying. On the plus side, some presents allow you to bounce back up to the previous level. But then there's the issue of not being sure which present it will be in.

I had yet another unfortunate incident where I opened a present that contains rocket skates which SHOULD have been cool except they rocketed me off the edge...leaving me to fall right back down to the first level.

Witness the Weirdness

Going up higher and higher I begin to encounter more hostile characters and they're probably stranger than the three-legged creature I'm controlling. I get attacked by some kind of mad doctor, shot by a cherub and have invisible boogie men chasing me (they scream BOOGIE BOOGIE as they attack.)

Tomatoes seem pretty scared in the random world I got, too.


Overall, this game is really about exploration, finding your way around the randomly generated islands in the sky. What little combat exists is pretty dull and it's far easier to just avoid bad guys than to fight them.

That said, the characters and power-ups are amusing and having the maps generate randomly at the beginning of each game is brilliant.

So will I keep playing? Well, it's probably not a game I'd gravitate to immediately but if I could see firing it up to kill time.

Now if only I had some of that...time, that is.

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