ToeJam & Earl (Sega Genesis)

Sega Visions #5, Summer 91 – ToeJam & Earl

Everybody knows of Sonic as Sega’s mascot. However, before Sonic had that role locked up, ToeJam & Earl served in that role to some degree. The creator of the ToeJam & Earl game for the Sega Genesis was a big fan of Rogue and worked on Starflight and Starflight 2 earlier in his career. ToeJam & Earl has gameplay reminiscent of Rogue though with better graphics and an isometric viewpoint along with a more lighthearted version of some of Starflight’s science fiction themes.

ToeJam & Earl was somewhat of a sleeper hit. It got good reviews and people that played it tended to enjoy it but it wasn’t a big seller, at least at first. Over time, the game’s popularity picked up and it ended up being a decent seller.

ToeJam and Earl are amusing aliens that have crash landed on earth. The goal of the game is to find tens spaceship pieces so that they can escape earth. “Earth” is represented by floating islands in space. Once an elevator is found on one island, you can go up to the next. However, you can also fall off and land on the island below.

ToeJam & Earl is a very unique game that is a blast to play despite (or because of) its many oddities. For Sega Genesis fans this is definitely one to have. An original copy won’t be terribly cheap but if you watch for a deal you may be able to find a moderately priced one on eBay. The original was also re-released on Wii’s Virtual Console in 2006 and on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in 2012.

There have also been a couple of sequels though they haven’t managed to match the quality of the first one yet. The first sequel was called ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron. While not a bad game it is in a completely different genre as it was made into a more traditional side scrolling platform game. A third game was planned for the Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast at different times but both were cancelled. A beta of the Dreamcast iteration eventually made its way into the wild. An official third game was finally released on the Xbox in 2002 titled ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth. It brought back some of the elements of the original but was really more of a 3D platformer and was not as well received. The good news is that a fourth game is in the works titled ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove and is supposed to be in a style very similar to the first game.

The review at the top is from the Summer 1991 issue of Sega Visions.