Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove – Review
Follow Genre: Co-op Adventure
Developer: HumaNature Studios
Publisher: HumaNature Studios
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Tested on: PS4

Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: Very thematic music, gameplay and visuals, Fun co-op gameplay
Bad: Minor performance issues, Repetitive
User Score
6.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove is an adventure game, developed by HumaNature Studios. It is the fourth installment in the Toejam & Earl series, with the first game appearing in 1991. The game offers a four-player cooperative multiplayer experience, both online and locally. Toejam & Earl is a 90s Hip Hop inspired videogame, available on Steam, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.

Story

The story kicks off with the dynamic alien duo Toejam and Earl chilling with their girlfriends, Latisha and Lewanda, in the spaceship they “borrowed” from Lamont. When Earl mistakenly pushes the wrong button, the ship crashes down to Earth, causing the planet to defragment into several islands floating around in space. The four characters will have to scour those randomly generated levels to find the missing pieces of the ship, and repair it, so they can ultimately get back to their own planet of Funkotron. The story is simple and fun, the banter between the characters is funny, and the story’s conclusion is perfectly fitting and satisfying. The story isn’t the primary focus however, since the game is meant to be replayed many times over, to unlock characters and bonuses. One playthrough will take only an hour or two to finish.

Graphics

The visuals in Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove encapture that 90s Hip Hop nostalgia perfectly. The game looks like a cool cartoon from back in the days. Most levels look more or less the same, safe for the exception of a snow-covered level, a desert level or levels that are shrouded in darkness. The main characters look goofy and funky, and the enemies are all comically unique-looking. The game is extremely colorful and vibrant, with flashy loading screens that may hurt the eyes for some.

Sound

The music in Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove fits the funky game perfectly and enhances that 90s experience drastically. With over thirty groovy tunes, composed by Cody Wright, this game is packed with funky basslines and tasty jams. The music reminds you of early 90s sitcoms and groovy cartoons.

Gameplay

Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove is a cooperative adventure game. You start each game by selecting a character. There are six different characters to choose from and three additional characters to unlock. Each character will have different starting stats and different inherent bonuses. Your goal is to assemble your broken ship by collecting its parts throughout many different levels. On the top of the screen you can see if a part is present on your current level or not. By using the elevator, you and your teammates will be transported to a new level. Throughout your actions, you will gain experience points. This can be by defeating enemies, opening presents, discovering the maps, participating in mini-games, and so on. If you gain enough experience points, you can look for a Wise Carrot Man, who will level you up, boosting random stats, such as walking speed, carry weight, hit points, luck and so on. You start of as a Wiener and as you level, you’ll turn into a Dufus, a Dude, a Dawg, and so on, all the way to becoming the ultimate Funklord and maxing out all stats. Unfortunately, the game is probably long over before you max out those stats.

Presents can be found all over the levels, and these basically represent your arsenal of weapons and abilities. The content of a present is often a mystery and you’ll find out by using it and testing your luck, or by identifying it by paying a Wise Carrot Man. Presents often grant fun bonuses such as spring shoes to jump around, tomato rain to damage nearby Earthlings, spawn a telephone to uncover parts of the map, a slingshot, and many more. There is an abundance of different presents to open up, but beware of bad presents. Presents can also be amped, which means that they are a stronger version of their original effect.

There are many different Earthlings to encounters, which are basically the enemies in the game. Each earthling is unique, and some examples are; an insane dentist with a dangerous drill, a shopping cart lady who is in a hurry, a yeti with a sharp pencil, an internet troll and many, many more. These enemies will try to damage you, steal your presents or just try to push you off the level, dropping you down to the former one. There are some Earthlings that can help you out though, such as; Gandhi Ji, who can protect you from enemies with his peace and love circle, or an opera singer who will vanquish your enemies with her voice, or a wizard that can heal you, and so on. In exchange for money, these Earthlings will heal you, protect you, search trees and bushes for you, identify presents or fix your broken ones.

Levels can contain two mini-games. The first one is the Hyperfunk Zone, an alternate dimension that is a squiggly realm of literal funk, which you’ll have to race through. There are five levels in the Hyperfunk Zone, and each level has a different background. Racing through this colorful and fast-paced mini-game will grant you money and experience, the further you get. The second mini-game is a dance battle against other aliens from Planet Funkotron. This rhythm matching session will have you matching buttons on screen in a particular order. There are five difficulty levels to this mini-game and the better you do, the faster you’ll progress these levels, granting you presents, experience and money. In both mini-games, other players can join in on the fun.

When you’ve finished assembling your ship, you will be transported to your homeworld. Here you can unlock a secret character, and get to choose a power hat, which grants an added bonus in your next playthrough. Each playthrough takes only a couple of hours and the game has a lot of replay value. You can try to unlock all the secret hats and characters, or you can just enjoy a fun playthrough with some friends. Unfortunately, although this game is filled with content, it can often feel very shallow, making the game feel less interesting after a couple of playthroughs, especially when playing by yourself.

Unfortunately, you may encounter some lag and frame rate drops now and again, but nothing too annoying.

Conclusion

Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove is a fun adventure game, with an amazing nostalgic 90s Hip Hop vibe to it. The flavor in this game, visually and musically, is insane and makes up for repetitive playthroughs. The game is best enjoyed with some friends, and suffers a bit when playing by yourself. For its current price, this game is a lot of fun and if you’re looking for a good time with some friends, definitely check it out.

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Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove - Review, 6.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
GlennVR
GlennVR


"I do not have the gospel of faith to share with you today. I have, and I offer.. the Gospel of Doubt." - G.O.D

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