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ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove (PC, PS4, XB1, Switch) - March 1st, 2019

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As another topic that was lost to the great wipe back to July of last year, here we go...

 

photo-original.jpg?v=1426192043&w=1024&h

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1578116861/toejam-and-earl-back-in-the-groove

 

ToeJam & Earl, a classic duo from SEGA's glory days and one N64 Dreamcast Xbox game that no one really cares about, are back to kick some funk into the modern era of video games!

 

Most details can be viewed in the Kickstarter link above such as two promotional videos (one animated and one live action along with details on work in progress animations, concept art and kickstarter stretch goals including possible ports to the PS4, Xbox One and Wii U at $600K, $700K and $800K respectively (pretty unlikely to reach that far, but eh, who knows?)

 

Being developed with Greg Johnson, one of the two original owners of the TJ&E property, as lead, the game appears to be taking mostly inspiration from the first ToeJam & Earl game, dropping all sidescroller platformer elements from the second and only carrying over the character designs used in the third game. 

 

Overall, the game seems to be shaping up alright-ish if you ask me, especially with the recent overall in the artstyle choice which looks a lot more suitable than what was going on before if you ask me.

 

So, go ahead and talk about the game right here in this topic!

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Well, it's reached its goal so with any luck we'll be splatting Earthlings with tomatoes again by Christmas. I have to say I am a little hyped. It's gone beyond the goal enough to give us classic skins from the original but is very far off achieving a console port. Here's another video for anyone who hasn't seen the concept in action:

 

 

It looks ok, but like they say, it is a work in progress so the visuals should improve.

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Awesome they made their goal? I'm really glad. I didn't back them, (I was really tempted to buy the Vinyl figures but couldn't justify the $80 price tag) but I really wanted this to get made. Shame about the console releases but you never know, depends how well it sells I guess.

 

But hey, the boys are back. That's funkin' awesome.

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You know, I could never get a hold of the original ToeJam and Earl on the Genesis. It was a rather confusing game. I didn't bother with using a guide either and just.. left it. But it's good to know that the original creators and fans love the series enough to make another entry. I was honestly a bit worried they wouldn't make the goal but it's nice to see it became successful. And they even reached a stretch goal! ^^

 

Hm, I might get this when it comes out. I must admit the art style is nice and the drawings used to promote the Kickstarter are lovely. But one thing I never understood about the series is the name. Er, who thought it was a good idea to name a character ToeJam? It's so gross... I think I read that it was originally a translation issue but they kept it because it sounded cool or something? 

 

Ah well, the series is still popular so that's all that counts I guess. I'm quite intrigued to as what the final game will look like.

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*Bump*

click on the image for a link to steam

Good news: ToeJam & Earl Back in the Groove partnering with Adult Swim to bring the game to consoles!!!

Bad news: Delayed until 2017.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1578116861/toejam-and-earl-back-in-the-groove/posts/1663774

Quote

 

Our Big News!!!!

OK we have a really nice juicy one for you - get ready!

Many of you have heard that we have a funding partner to help us make "Back in the Groove" and help us get onto consoles... so here's who our partner is:

Hi-Five!!! Hi-Five!!!

Can you imagine a better partner on this planet for ToeJam and Earl than Adult Swim?  Seriously.  I don't think so...right?  And yes, it means we are officially coming to multiple consoles.  I expect there will be a flood of questions about which consoles we'll be on, and how it will work for backers...  we're still figuring this out with Adult Swim and we'll be getting back to you on all this. 

So... consoles for sure! That's the good news.  The really REALLY good news is that Adult Swim is helping us make sure this game is going to be everything we want it to be - they have been incredibly supportive, and the game is turning out to be pretty awesome - if I do say so myself.  We're laughing a lot as we play test here and that's usually a good sign.  Here, check this out...

The not so great news is that to get these ports done and really polish this game it will take longer than I originally said.  Feel free to yell at me, I don't mind.  But trust me when I say we're pulling all-nighters here and working our butts off, and now we get to keep going and make the game I've always wanted to give you.  You've waited a long time for this one - so after you get excited about what's cooking, put this on the back burner of your brain for awhile longer.

Oh and I should also say that one of the main reasons we went with Adult Swim was that many of them are already big TJ&E fans.  Some were even backers in our kickstarter, and they totally wanted to let me pursue my vision of what this game would be.  How amazing is that?  I couldn't believe it.

You may be thinking... Adult Swim?  ToeJam and Earl TV series?  Well, I admit it, so did I.  Still, the games division is totally separate from TV.  But if we really hit it out of the park with the game... well who knows.  Anyway first things first.

So... STEAM...  as of this morning our Steam page is up and you can tell your friends who were bummed to miss our kickstarter, to go visit Steam and put "Back in the Groove" on their wishlist.  Please help us spread the word!!

click on the image for a link to steam click on the image for a link to steam

 By the way side note:  Headlander is an awesome game.  I just finished playing through it with my awesome son.  It's totally worth playing.  Three alien thumbs up!

Here is some more fun news...

We'll have playable demos at PAX-West Sept. 2nd - 4th We'll have playable demos at PAX-West Sept. 2nd - 4th

Adult Swim is going all out and we'll have a big presence at this show...  I apologize for this late notice - i'm sure by now you're either planning on going already or not. The show has been sold out for quite some time.  Still, if you ARE going, check THIS out...

There will be a TJ&E backer mixer event Sat Night with live funk music from the game by Cody (our bass player) and Nick (our keyboard player). The mixer will be at: PAX West (Rooms 605/610 on the 6th floor of Washington State Convention Center on 9/3 from 6:30pm - 8:30pm)

Also me and Cody and Nick will be signing and giving away CD samplers of the game music that has 8 of our 26 songs.

Back in the Groove Sampler Back in the Groove Sampler

We will be making some announcements about the complete set of Digital Music, the Music CD, and the Vinyl album, hopefully in the next month or so.  I plan on releasing the music well in advance of the release of the game, so you'll have something to keep you going while you wait for the game.  Backers who purchased the music will get whatever you purchased of course, and those who haven't can purchase it.Please know that I and all of us on this tiny indie team know that none of this would have been possible without you TJ&E backers.  We owe you a debt of gratitude that goes way beyond the money you donated.  Your faith in us means everything.  I'm sorry for making you wait -  we're doing our best to bring you some nostalgic TJ&E funky family fun with lots of laughs and smiles.

 

 

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*Bump

Polygon article: Meet the new Earthlings

Hula.0.jpg

 

Quote

The next game in the 25-year old ToeJam & Earl franchise, ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove, is expected later this year. With the help of new publishing partner Adult Swim Games, co-creator Greg Johnson and his team at Humanature Studio have big plans. Not only will the game feature many nods to the 1991 original, but it will also have nearly triple the number of Earthlings for players to interact with.

I sat down with Johnson to talk about the original game, which first debuted in 1991. I also received a guided tour of some of the nearly 60 Earthling enemies players will encounter, up from 20 in the original game.

They were, to hear Johnson tell it, one of his favorite things to make. 

The set of enemies for the first ToeJam & Earl is roughly 20 sprite-based characters, including a little devil, a hamster in a rolly ball and a Mimic-like evil mailbox.

“The original Earthlings came from a very general, high-level thought,” Johnson told Polygon. “In fact, that’s kind of all ToeJam & Earl was in terms of a very conscious decision. It was really a desire to be a little whimsical and satirical. A view of us all from the outside, of what an alien might see.

 

“Some of that was commentary. It had to do with how kind of crazy and dangerous and self-involved we are and, in particular Western society. All the Earthlings that are depicted in our game are kind of from the modern Western society, like the Construction Worker kicking up big gouts of smoke. A lot of it was just stream of consciousness too.”

 
clipboard_volunteer.png
 
Clipboard Volunteer. Standaroundus Takeyermoneyum: This well meaning person will take some of your money for a good cause. She does a lot of damage and puts you to sleep as well. Humanature Studio/Adult Swim Games

“I wanted the experience for people to be not too cerebral. I wanted people to kind of let go a little bit and just get into the flow and enjoy the surprise and the craziness of it. If you make things very logical and consistent, it’s hard to surprise people. I wanted to be kind of delighted and surprised at the absurdity of the game and of the idea of Earth.

“So a giant hamster in a rolly-ball or the wise man in a carrot suit ... People ask me, ‘Why?’ I don’t know. I always used to joke that he’s wiser than we are so he has his reasons. Who are we to question him? The truth is there was really not a lot of deep thought behind it. It just kind of feels absurd and silly.”

 

I played a bit of Back in the Groove at this year’s PAX East, right after a version was announced for the Nintendo Switch. What jumped out at us was how much it felt like a direct remaster of the game’s opening level, complete with a “secret” Level 0. Johnson said that wasn’t really the goal at all. In the beginning, he and his team wanted to update the game with a more modern color palette and a faster playstyle. But during last year’s Kickstarter campaign the feedback was overwhelmingly in favor of preserving what made the original so unique.

cosplay_nerds.png
 
Cosplay Nerds, Embarracus Awkwardicus: This group of Earthlings offers you the chance to gamble a buck by rolling dice. Your chance of winning is based on your Luck Stat. A money hat can also help.  Humanature Studio/Adult Swim Games

“When we started out to do a reboot of the game in 2002,” Johnson said, “that was the initial idea [to do a game very much like the original]. But we got derailed by Sega and ended up doing a bunch of major things that were not intended initially as a sort of pure reboot. But even if we hadn’t been derailed, there were lessons that I hadn’t learned yet at the time about how to listen to what the fans want.

“This time, with Kickstarter and the forum that we created, I got a flood of information from the fans about what it was they loved about the game and what they remember and recalled and what was meaningful to them. And at some point realization struck and I realized, ‘Oh, there’s a lot of things that I hadn’t realized that people connect to, like the background patterns during level transitions or the music or some sound effect.”

“We were going to move the camera around and we were going to change the color palette to make it not so bright,” Johnson said. “We were going to do some other things too, and initially the fans saw that on Kickstarter and they were like, ‘No no no! That’s not ToeJam and Earl! We want this crazy bright saturated colors. It’s okay if they’re a little obnoxious. That’s what it is!’

internet_troll1.png
 
Internet Troll, Trollus Internetus Transformium: This troll hurls insults at you which damage and confuse you. “He’s the same character. Initially, he’s like a troll. He hurls insults at you,” Johnson said. “They’re little cusses in word bubbles that fly off of him and hit you and confuse you and hurt you. But if you get close to him, he turns into that scared teenage boy and he says, ‘Help me! Help me!’ And he runs away.”  Humanature Studio/Adult Swim Games

Fans of the original will remember the main characters spent about as much time in an elevator as players did in the original Mass Effect, just with fewer dialogue options. But those moments were part of the game’s history, part of its style and fans couldn’t part with them.

“We didn’t need loading times for our levels because we can generate levels a lot faster now,” Johnson said. “We weren’t initially going to have the elevator sequence in there, because that was there to cover load times. And then the fans said, ‘No! We love that. Those conversations they had in the elevator? My brother and I used to have those conversations together all the time!’ So we put the elevator rides back in, even though it’s not necessary.”

One of the ideas that almost made it into the 2002 attempt at a reboot was having players move faster than ever before. They came close to doing something along those lines this time around. But the movement speed in the original game was locked to a fast mosey at best, and again diehard fans wanted to keep it that way.

riot_guard.png
 
Riot Guard, Rideus Riotus: This guard on the Segway is fast and persistent. He loves to flatten you and does heavy damage.  Humanature Studio/Adult Swim Games

You would think that coming up with more Earthlings this time around would have upset fans as well, but Johnson told us he had more recommendations that he knew what to do with.

“A lot of those newest Earthlings came from suggestions in our forum,” Johnson said. “We got a lot of them from fans. I don’t think there’s any that I didn’t tweak to make them really work in the game. I didn’t take anything completely straight. But I think a lot of fans will be able to say, ‘That one came from me!’ It’s something I’m really looking forward to. I would have liked to do hundreds more, but we got in as much as we could and a lot of them were just really funny.”

Johnson said that the game would be feature complete sometime this month, then polished up for testing in advance of its release. There’s no release date yet, but he tells Polygon the goal is to have the game playable on PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One before the holiday shopping season.

"Internet Troll" Earthling lol.

Here's some more new Earthlings:

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deadly_icecream_truck.png

 

 

mad_inventor.png

 

shady_character_2.png

 

spanish_inquisitor.png

 

ghandi_ji.png

king_tut.png

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I forgot I made this topic lmao. Honestly, with how casual development seemed to be all those four years ago, I'm surprised it really pulled through to the end. I guess it's one of those Kickstarters that actually happened and thank god for that.

I might pick it up on Steam? I really haven't been up to date with how it's coming along lately but I'm always up for new ToeJam & Earl no matter what year it is. Maybe I should take a scroll through the non-meme stuff on the Twitter account and see how it's been shaping up.

Also, edited the thread title to accommodate for the PS4/XB1/Switch releases and the release date. Better late than never.

RIP Wii U for the ten millionth time

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Reviews are coming out and it's reviewing...pretty divisively. Seems it's near-exclusively for fans who liked the first game and this genre, for better and for worse.

GameStop 9.5/10

Quote

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is a fondue pot of late ‘80s/early ‘90s American hip-hop culture. Stick a fork in and you’re bound to pull out old-school slang, funky designs, and the type of rap white people of the era didn’t find threatening. It’s all cobbled together with Nicktoons-meets-Dr. Seuss art direction and gameplay perfect for chilling out maxin, relaxin all cool. In an age where games are trying to one-up each other with how loud, fast, and exciting they are, Back in the Groove reminds us of how rewarding it can be taking it low and slow.

PlayStation Nation: 9/10

Quote

 

It’s risky to take on a beloved property and try to drag it into a modern context but developers have been learning just what made people love these older games in the first place.

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove goes the Spyro and Crash Bandicoot route with what feels like a remake but takes it a step further with new characters and gameplay additions that slot seamlessly into place. If your memory is hazy on the original, you may not even notice what’s been added, and that’s quite an accomplishment in itself.

 

Polygon: "Reviewer gives it a "Recommended" badge

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ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is outstanding. Fans should expect a modernized version of the original game, one that expands on its format and piles on a hefty dose of replayability. As a complete package, I think it might just be the best entry in the entire series. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, of course, but in a marketplace crowded with grim heroes and dark violence, Back in the Groove is a concentrated dose of joy. It’s the rare game that is easily enjoyed by the entire family. That alone makes it worthy of praise.

Next-Gen Base: 8/10

Quote

This surprisingly strong re-working of a classic title is made with obvious care, and adds enough new features to make differentiate itself from what came before, whilst still appealing to those who loved the original.

Nintendolife: 7/10

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ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is a faithful enhancement to the classic original. It might not satisfy those looking for their next big blockbuster or 'prestige indie' title as the design may feel somewhat dated, despite the game’s own attempts to obfuscate the obsolete with the arbitrary. This funky, distinctive game should please the nostalgic while being unique enough to attract, and satisfy, the curious. Details such as the exhaustive documentation and varying minigames definitely show some heart in the development. Ultimately, this is a package that is designed to appeal to pre-existing fans rather than create entirely new ones, but if you're a fan of this kind of game and don't mind the odd spot of randomness, then you should give it a try.

God is a Geek: 6.5/10

Quote

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is a nice throwback to a much-loved classic, and whilst some of the roguelike gameplay does work rather well, it still feels like the entire experience is stuck in the past, harboured by some basic mechanical flaws. Still, I enjoyed the sheer wackiness of it, and the creativity gave me plenty of laughs. It’s also a lot of fun playing with a friend, whether online or locally, because experiencing the weirder side of the game is much better when sharing with others.

Gamespew: 5/10

Quote

ToeJam and Earl may have gained cult status for their past escapades, but unless you’re a hardcore fan of the series, the magic doesn’t quite carry over to the 21st century. ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is initially charming thanks to how offbeat it is, but it soon wears thin when you realise how barebones the gameplay is.

TechRaptor: 4.5/10

Quote

There is a bit of novelty to Back in the Groove, but at the end of the day, the game will only appeal to the most hardcore fans out there. It is a boring, tedious experience that has the look and feel of its predecessors, but lacks the satirical charm. ToeJam & Earl struggle to find any form of relevance in 2019 beyond a quick nostalgia fix.

---

Opencritic: 67 (16 reviews, 55% critics recommend)

Metacritic: 81 on Switch68 on PS4 (7 reviews each) 

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It seems to be more or less positive at the moment (if you include the non-scored reviews, which everybody should!), if not exactly great overall. Not unexpected, when you consider it's pretty much an expanded version of the original and it's definitely better played with others than on your own.

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