Toejam & Earl
Release Date: March 12, 1991
Platform Played On: Wii (Virtual Console)
2018 Placement: Unranked
What It Is:
Toejam & Earl is a very unique game that’s hard to describe. The title characters are from Funkatron and crash their ship on Earth, so they have to navigate past hazardous Earthlings while recovering their spaceship’s parts that have been scattered to the wind. It’s kind of like a co-op roguelike in some ways, because one mode involves going through randomized levels of Earth trying to find the ship parts. It’s not super action-heavy though; as a player you rely on presents that can be good or bad to spice up the gameplay and make it past everything trying to kill you. And if you play with a partner, sometimes they’re trying to kill you too which makes the adventure even more hazardous.
The music is funky (since Funkatron is the planet Toejam and Earl hang from) and the humor is wacky (you identify presents through a Carrot Man and can sneak up on Santa Claus to get more presents to use). Boogeymen sneak up on you and shout “Boogie boogie boogie” as they take away your health. You’ve gotta watch out for lawn mowers, scientists, and more as you reveal map tiles through exploration, trying to find the exit to the next level along with your ultimate goal of rebuilding your spaceship.
Why It’s Important To Me:
Sometimes a game becomes a favorite simply through osmosis. My podcast partner-in-crime HarveyZ lists this as one of his favorite games of all-time, and therefore I’ve played it many times with him (and also watched him play it with others as well). And if you play a game enough and spend enough time with people who love the game, you start to love it yourself.
While this wasn’t a game I grew up with – I was a Nintendo kid and never had any Sega system – it was a game my friends did. So when it showed up on the Wii’s Virtual Console, I ended up buying it to partake in the joy and have learned to respect why it captured their hearts. It’s a light-hearted, fun, shooting-the-shit game where you can grief your partner but also high-five them. And I appreciate that.
My Strongest Memory:
Back when I was recording Let’s Plays for YouTube, me and HarveyZ sat down and did a full playthrough of Toejam & Earl together. I still think it was one of the best (if not the best) thing to come out of the year’s worth of videos I did for the channel and was one of the first rumblings that eventually led me to start a podcast with him later. If you want to watch it, you can start here (it’s divided into six parts – please ignore the bad audio, I’ve learned a lot podcasting and did not do any audio editing for YouTube in ignorance).
Anyway, this playthrough had a lot of the fun, ridiculous moments that playing video games with friends result in. And in this case all of those moments were caught on camera to relive over and over! It’s the camaraderie that comes along while play this game (and games like it) that endeared Toejam and Earl to me. I even ended up buying a special edition of the new Toejam & Earl just because of how much I bonded with my pal over the original and it’s earned a special place in my heart.
Why It’s #89:
I have a feeling this would have ended up a lot higher on my list if I had the same nostalgia for it as I do other games I played in my childhood. I still love it, but it’s a different kind of love that misses the high emotions of it being a game that was formative to my opinion of video games in general. As it is, though, it’s still a timeless classic that can be enjoyed just as much nowadays – it doesn’t lose anything with age.