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Toobin' is probably the only arcade game that features inner tube travel as its main focus. Players leisurely travel down a river, avoiding obstacles and trying to score points by passing through gates with some degree of skill. Players rotate their tubes and paddle to increase speed. They gather letters for points (and potentially a free t-shirt!), and gather pop cans which can be used as a weapon to neutralize obstacles. Power-ups allow players to carry multiple cans and combinations of gates increase a score multiplier.
Play could be single-player or multi-player co-op, although there was a competitive aspect to getting more points and pop cans than your fellow player. If players dawdled too long, an alligator would begin chasing the player, forcing him or her to either speed up or get chomped. Lives were represented by patches (as in patches you can use to stop up holes in your inner tube).
The game has three different classes, each with five rivers, for a total of 15. The rivers in each class are as follows:
- Colorado, Amazon, Okeefenokee, American and Argentum
- Yukon, Styx, Left Bank, Cuprum and Nile
- Jurassic, Black Forest, Rio Grande, Canals Of Mars and Nightmare
The game's playable characters are Bif and Jet. Whenever there is only one player in the game, there will be a computer-controlled opponent called Flotsam.
The original arcade version of Toobin' is all buttons, using five of them for each player. Four of the buttons represent hands and direction, such as putting your left hand forward, or your right hand back. This allows for tank-like propulsion and rotation. The fifth button is used for throwing soda cans at obstacles.