ToeJam & Earl is a surreal-comedic action-adventure roguelike developed by JVP and published by Sega for the Genesis on July 21, 1991. The game stars two bodaciously funky alien rappers (three-legged red ToeJam and fat orange Earl) as they explore various floating islands (representing Earth) in order to find pieces of their wrecked spacecraft.
The game received two sequels: ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron (a 1993 side-scrolling platformer for the Genesis) and ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth (a 2002 action-adventure platformer for the Xbox). The original game was re-released on the Wii (via Wii Virtual Console) on December 22, 2006 and both the Xbox 360 (via an Xbox Live Arcade compilation) and PlayStation 3 (via PlayStation Network) on November 7, 2012 (as part of the Sega Vintage Collection series).
The entire game revolves around collecting presents, gathering ship pieces, and fighting or avoiding enemies. In this surreal world, Earth consists of hundreds of suspended grass platforms in space, sometimes containing water or sand. The levels are scattered with earthlings, who, without an offensive weapon at your disposal, must be avoided at any cost.
The game has two modes. In the first, "Fixed Mode", all the levels are pre-created and will be the same every time you play. In "Random Mode", the levels are all randomly generated and populated with presents, earthlings, and ship pieces. This was one of the first games to popularize randomly generated levels. The game also featured a revolutionary version of split screen mode, where both characters would be on the same screen, but when far enough apart the screen would split, allowing each to continue on their way. The screen would then become a single one when the characters got close enough again.
Your main goal is to collect all the pieces of your ship. Once you do, you launch off to your home planet and win the game. You also want to collect as many presents and cover as much of the map as possible. Covering map blocks & opening/identifying presents will net you points, which allow you to level up. You progress through the stages by getting into elevators scattered across the levels.
- D-Pad - Move Around
- A - Use item (if selected), Hold to sneak (if no item selected)
- B - Enter/exit present menu
- C - Map, Toggle Between Use & Drop (if in present menu)
In co-op, when Toe Jam and Earl walk past each other perfectly they give each other a high five. Doing so averages out both players' health bars, which is especially useful if one is near death.
- Super Hi-Tops - Cover ground quickly, stay on top of custard. This item can be found inside presents, but it can also be found in special shoeboxes that look the same in every game and cannot be randomized.
- Jackpot - Gain five Bucks.
- Icarus Wings - Allows you to fly, at the cost of looking ridiculous, for a brief period of time by mashing A
- Slingshot/ Tomatoes - Projectiles to kill enemies
- Un-fall - When you fall down from one level to the previous one, Un-fall will bring you back up to the level you fell from. Will not allow you to skip up a level, you have to have already been to the level above.
- Togetherness - Only available in a two-player game, allows the player who uses it to teleport to the other player's location.
- Extra Life - Instantly gain another life.
- Promotion - Instantly level up (see levels, below).
- Innertube - Cross water without drowning. Watch out for sharks.
- Rosebushes - You drop a rosebush directly beneath you when you press A. Unless you are moving when you do this, this will damage you. This rosebush will stay until you use another one (only 1 bush can be present at a time), and disappears once the present expires. This is okay for blocking the progress of more aggressive enemies like the lawnmower guy, mad dentist, & bees. It's not so effective against the boogieman, phantom ice cream trucks, or tornadoes. It's useless against devils, shopping cart women, or hamsters, because you can easily outrun them regardless. It can also be used to interrupt a hula sequence, which can be a huge lifesaver. Rosebushes do not work on sand.
- Decoy - Will distract enemies by having them attack this inflatable decoy instead of you. It will pop after taking a certain amount of damage.
- Boombox - Makes all the enemies start dancing, temporarily distracting them.
- Spring Shoes - Enables Toejam or Earl to spring to far distances. Good for jumping over gaps to islands or away from enemies.
- Randomizer - Resets all your identified presents to "????????" and re-randomizes the sprite graphics in case you had any memorized.
- Total Bummer! - You instantly die. Kills both you and your co-op partner if you're on the same screen. Worst thing in the whole game.
- Earthling - Summons a random enemy right next to where you're standing. Not especially handy.
- Rain cloud - Creates a rain cloud above your head that shocks you at random intervals, dealing damage, for about 2 minutes.
- Book - Toejam or Earl will read the book, which is so boring that they quickly fall asleep and become vulnerable to enemies. You have to wake them up by tapping the controller buttons quickly. If both players on the same screen, both will receive a boring-ass book.
- Rocket skates - Causes you to fly off straight forward at high speeds, unable to stop. Great to get to the secret area on level 1... Not so great on any other level, as if you are not very careful with your control, they could cause you to fall down 5 or 6 levels by accident.
- Door - A doorway appears, a portal to a random point in the level. It could take you to an elevator or a ship piece, or it could drop you on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere, and you have to fall down to the previous level to progress.
- Food - Good (read: delicious) food will heal you, bad (read: healthy or rotten) food will hurt you.
- Tomato Rain - Rains tomatoes on the whole level for a few minutes. This is both good and bad, good because if the earthlings get hit with enough tomatoes, they'll die. Bad because you also have to avoid the tomatoes or take damage.
- Grass - You will have normal movement speed on this terrain.
- Sand - Sand (which actually appears to be custard) slows you down. The longer you spend in it the slower you move, as your character eventually sinks up to their eyeballs. Super hi-tops will place you on top of the sand when used, as will contact with the other player.
- Road - On roads you will move twice as fast.
- Water - In water your health meter acts as a sort of air meter. It decreases while underwater, but returns to its prior state when you surface. This means the larger amount of health you have, the longer you can swim.
Earth is generally avoided by the intelligent races of the galaxy, as it has been conclusively proven that most Earthlings are completely out of their minds. Earthlings are scattered throughout the game, appearing more frequently on the higher levels, which also contain the more powerful enemies. In a fashion completely unique to this game, most enemy encounters are solved by simply escaping them. Since you mostly walk (unless you have a set of Super Hi-Tops active), you will have to walk in certain patterns to avoid enemy attacks or paths. Some presents will allow you to throw tomatoes as projectiles at the enemies to defeat them, but given the occurrence of these presents in the game world, it serves as more of a power up than a primary weapon. Less common are the helpful earthlings, who may do you a service for some of your bucks.
- Devil - These devious imps bounce around in unpredictable patterns. Try to walk circles around them if you need to.
- Hula Girl - She will distract you with her sensuous dance if you walk near her, leaving you open to enemy attacks. Avoid the temptation at all costs!
- Bees - The bees do high damage and come after you quickly. Try to put as much distance as possible between you and them, or use rosebushes.
- Cupid - He will fire arrows at you that cause you to fall in love, stupefying you and randomizing your control scheme. It will wear off over time, but in conjunction with other enemies around, this can become a frustrating nightmare.
- Mailbox Monster - He appears to be a normal mailbox until you get very close. Then a horrifying, gaping maw opens up and he chases you down with his terrifying cry of "breee!"
- Hamster In A Ball - This hamster will follow you very slowly and try to flatten you. You should be able to outmanoeuvre him easily.
- Boogieman - Along with the phantom ice cream truck, this guy is one of the hardest, most frustrating enemies in the game. He's totally invisible unless moving or attacking. He'll set up ambushes for you, and when you're close grab you while shouting "Boogie Boogie Boogie!" It puts most survival horror games to shame.
- Mole - The mole digs around the ground and cannot be attacked while underground. He will try to burrow underneath you and steal your presents. Stolen presents cannot be retrieved. What a douche.
- Shopping Cart Lady - This mega-mart shopper pushes a crying kid in a cart around and is constantly getting in your way and annoying you... just like in real life.
- Insane Dentist - The crazy dentist will sprint at you full speed and try to drill you while laughing maniacally. Dude loves his job. He's exceptionally hard to avoid, and your best bet is to put as much distance between you as possible.
- Lawnmower Man - Unlike the one in the Pierce Brosnan movie, this lawnmower man is simply a fat man with a lawnmower and a cigar, who has an odd tendency to try to run you over with his bladed contraption. Try to avoid him in the same way you would a crazy dentist, as they have very similar movement patterns... fast, straight lines.
- Nerd Herd - A cluster of fast-moving nerds that flattens you upon contact, dealing serious damage.
- Chicken Army - A group of chickens toting around a tomato-launching mortar cannon. The mortar is wildly inaccurate, but they fire a lot of tomatoes in one volley and they have a very long range of attack, so watch out!
- Phantom Ice Cream Truck - The most frustrating, nerve-wrecking enemy in the whole game. This ice cream truck materializes out of thin air, runs you down, and disappears like a Boogieman. It repeats this process until you are dead. You best bet in this scenario is to hope you have some Super Hi-Tops in your inventory and get the hell out of Dodge.
- Dust Tornado - A fast moving dust tornado will sweep you off you feet. Dust Tornadoes can be very annoying because they spawn and move randomly on some of the higher levels with sand. If you get sucked into one it will take you quite a distance and then dissipate... usually over space or in water.
- Scavenging Mole - A moving dirt bump. If it catches up with you, a hole will open and you'll shake out a present or two. Sometimes the bump will stop and the mole will pop up out of the hole with a miner's hat on and look around.
- Shark - Sharks are only found in water, where they will attempt to bump into you while humming the theme to Jaws. This is dangerous, because your health is already constantly draining while you're in the water, unless you have an innertube, but this is not their biggest threat: that would be a major bug that causes the game to lock up and freeze if you jump into water and land on top of a shark, leaving you with no other option but to reset or turn off the Genesis and lose all your progress.
- Wise Carrot - This wise old man in a carrot suit can be seen pacing back and forth. For two Bucks he will identify an unknown present for you, allowing you to potentially avoid dangers like the Randomizer and even Total Bummer!s.
- Opera Singer - It's all over for your enemies when this fat lady sings. For three bucks she will kill all onscreen enemies with the power of opera.
- Wizard - The wizard will give you a full heal for a single Buck.
- Santa Claus - Santa is a rare earthling that can be seen rummaging through his sack and warily looking around for threats. If you happen upon Santa, hold A to sneak (if you aren't using an item). Sneak towards Santa while he is rooting through his sack. If he looks up, stop and stand in place. Don't continue moving until he looks down & roots through his sack again. If you make it all the way over to him & touch him, he will drop two or three presents before flying off. If he sees you moving, he will fly off immediately. A popular Game Genie code for the game made Santa Claus the only type of Earthling to appear, making the game significantly easier.
Present Island & Level 0
If you collect two inner tubes, two pairs of rocket skates, two sets of Icarus wings, or any combination of those items equalling 2 or more, you can access either of the secret islands in level 1. The first, Present Island, is in the upper right corner of level 1. It is literally covered with presents.
The second, Level 0, is a secret area that can be accessed by falling through a hole in the lower left corner of level 1. On level 0, you can drink from a lemonade stand for an extra life, or chat up some babes in a hot tub, which will heal your wounds while you sit in it. To get back to the highest level you were on, jump off the side of the Level 0 and you will fall back to it. This means that if you make it to level 10 and collect the necessary items to access the secrets, it won't hurt at all to fall all the way back down to level 1 and collect the secrets, as long as you make sure to go to level 0 and fall off.
While playing the game, opening and revealing presents along with revealing more and more of the map will level up the player. Each present opened earns 2 points while each square revealed earns 1. Gaining a level will result in an increase to the player's life bar and in some cases will grant extra lives. Here are the following levels with corresponding point requirements:
- Wiener (beginning level)
- Dufus (40 points)
- Poindexter (100 points and an extra life)
- Peanut (180 points)
- Dude (280 points)
- Bro (400 points and an extra life)
- Homey (540 points)
- Rapmaster (700 points)
- Funklord (880 points and an extra life)
This game included a beat machine so you could make beats with different drums and sound effects.