ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove Xbox One Review
Title – ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove
Platform – Xbox One
Developer – HumaNature Studios
Publisher – HumaNature Studios / Limited Run Games (Physical PS4 and Switch versions)
Release Date – March 1, 2019
Also Available on –PC, OSX, PS4, Switch
Third Person Perspective Action Platformer
Featuring 9 playable characters, 6 of which can be chosen at the start of the game (Toejam/old skool Toejam, Earl/old skool Earl, Latisha or Lewanda) and 3 locked requiring progression, the game plays in a similar fashion and style to that of the Sega Genesis back in the day. The graphics are naturally smoother and with updated sounds less akin to a millipede crashing into you when you mess up (remember that crashing sound?). With the same floating island style layout and elevators for level progression, it really does transport you back to previous versions with ease, complimented by the same typical hip-hop beats you will likely not get out of your head for hours and although ‘Jam-Out’ remains, the game does not follow the same path as ‘Panic on Funkotron’ to any real degree.
With instantly recognisable Splatoon-esque colours, it may be advisable to wear sunglasses for a 40 inch plus TV for the first few minutes of story-line or sit way back so you don’t get punched in the proverbial eye as the nostalgia comes flooding back in waves.
With basic character upgrades to differentiate between new and old, a lot of the old-skool remains, such as finding ship parts, a cherub firing arrows… albeit he looks like he has been rummaging through a bin for some reason and then we have the wise man, devils and cavemen chasing you down etc and a hula girl that impulsively forces both good and bad to dance like a mermaid luring you with her call. There is certainly plenty to watch out for in this rendition of the game.
The review copy for Xbox is about 2.5GB but somehow the game feels much larger which is most certainly welcome for modern day title sizes.
You can also send out a sonic wave to shake the trees or do some good old fashion leg-work and shake them manually to retrieve cash, presents and such, plus replenish your health using the foods strategically laid out through the levels before zipping into the elevator to move forward.
I must admit, I was instantly fond of the game-play in general.
The controls on the Xbox were pretty standard stuff although I had a nasty habit of pausing the game each time I wanted to either look at my presents or bring the map up full-screen. I put this down to the online game-play nights I do fairly regular, however don’t let my short-comings put you off. It was glitch-free as far as I could see and did not affect any game-play or levelling.
‘Jam-Out’ consisted of a particular set of 2 buttons depending on progression level so I’ll let you check those out as they roll by to the funky beat or are created by yourself to be replayed by your opponent.
Clean, bold and very bright as afore-mentioned. Packed with nostalgia from the last time you went hunting for ship parts. The shading of the islands looks good and there really weren’t any points that stood out for improvement for it’s game type.
The sounds are spot on, to the point that the music is going to go round and round your head. It’s so catchy that you may find yourself humming it for hours so be wary of bed-time. I found myself doing exactly this almost an hour into a film the night of my first play. I’m not sure if that makes it a disaster or a stroke of genius but the funk is well and truly back with a vengeance.
The out-lying sounds such as the hula-girl are kept relatively basic so as not to distract from the game overall and in general it feels balanced and dare I say nostalgic again? (I get the feeling every line could bear that word in this review).
For a game we have not seen a sequel to in a number of years, it feels fitting to say that in full, the game is a trip down memory lane with a hint of updates. I found that quite possibly my age was the only factor that maybe didn’t fit the games fun, colourful profile quite as much as it would have eight to ten years ago, however, for a game virtually demanded by fans, I wouldn’t expect any disappointment judging by it’s ear-marked price of around £14.99/$19.99 digitally.
My bigger worry would be the price of any physical release especially on Nintendo Switch so I guess that’s a choice for each respective consumer on their chosen platform.
Good luck trying to prise the controller out of your children’s hands with this one folk, looks like it’s Multi-player in your house – A well rounded adventure!