I never got on with this previously. I think the main issue was that it didn’t feel like a proper sequel to the original ToeJam and Earl, which was one of my favourite Mega Drive games. It had the same funk, but it was a totally different experience.
Ditching the roguelike trappings of the first game, which was set on Earth (sort of), Panic on Funkotron instead became a platformer set on ToeJam & Earl’s home planet. The Mega Drive was swamped with platformers, so that didn’t help it stand out. Many times over the years I’ve tried to play through this and given up before the end of the first level because it just wasn’t what I wanted to play. But this time, something clicked.
The main gameplay is to explore levels finding earthlings to throw jars at. Jar them enough and you can capture them. Capture them all, and you can move on to the next level. Often these earthlings are hidden in trees and bushes, as are presents and traps. Presents don’t work like they used to, giving you random points, coins (for parking meters that trigger secrets), funk (for special moves) and a few powerups and special attacks (like one-hit jar captures).
So it’s different. Some things are the same, like the characters, general graphical style and of course the music, but it plays out totally different. In the original, combat was rare and earthlings were generally just avoided. Here, you need to take the fight to them, and there’s some skill involved for taking out each type. It’s also quite a lot easier, so long as you take your time and don’t rush into areas in case of hidden baddies. Panic on Funkotron is also much, much longer – so it’s a good job there’s a password system in place. Of course, on the Switch version you can just use save states, but it took me six or seven hours to complete the game. Some of the levels are huge and the earthlings well hidden!
It’s a shame I never got on with this originally. Maybe if I’d never played the first game I wouldn’t have had the problem with this being different. It’s still not as good as the first game (but to be fair, very few games are), but it’s much better than I ever previously gave it credit for.
I have completed ToeJam and Earl before, many times, with the last time almost a decade ago on the Wii’s Virtual Console. This time, it was on RetroPie. I think this may be the only time I’ve completed it on Random World though – I normally rely upon knowing exactly where certain presents are in order to know what’s in them.
I played through as ToeJam, obviously, because he is best. I didn’t have many problems until I got to around level 18 or so and then lost three lives in very quick succession to the Bogeyman. Thankfully, I found a life in a present and gained another for a promotion, and that saw me through until the end. In fact, I used very few presents overall at all – mainly through constant fear I’d get a Total Bummer or the randomiser.
ToeJam and Earl is certainly one of the most memorable Mega Drive games, and it hasn’t aged a bit. I wonder how the Kickstartered new version is getting on? I hope it turns out more like this original version than the sequel or Xbox one.
I’ve never really give this game much time before. I have it for the Megadrive, but having spent five minutes with it and realising it’s a platformer and not a proper sequel to the original, I didn’t play it again.
But, apparently, it’s still great. According to lots of people on t’t’t’tinternet anyway. So I bought it.
And they’re right. It’s different, but the humour from the original is still there. It is, however, waaaay harder, as I only reached Level 3. Boo!
Just squeezing in at the end of the year is this, my 45th completed title of 2006.
I got as far as Level 24, and was knocked down accidentally to Level 23, so I decided to keep falling until I reached 17 to see if there was a ship piece I’d missed – and there was. Found that, then dropped all the way to Level 1, used an innertube to swim to the island in the bottom left, dropped to Level 0 from there, got another life (just as well, as I had only one left), then returned to 24 again. On 25 I got myself two more lives (one from a promotion to Funk Lord, the other in a present), and then went up to 26 and found the final piece.
And then it was over! I did the “bonus” level back on Funkotron (which isn’t really a level as such), and then reset the game. Aces.
Pressed on from Level 7-ish all the way up to Level 20 today. I’m down to three lives (and not a lot of energy), and it’s actually getting quite hard. I’m pretty sure I’ve missed a ship piece on Level 17 too, so I’ll have to drop back down and check at some point.
I only have two ship pieces left, though. Can’t remember how many levels there are – 26? 27?
Friday is “New Games on the Wii Virtual Console Day” (rather like Wednesday is “New Games on Xbox Live Arcade Day”), and in today’s batch of new old titles was ToeJam and Earl for the Megadrive. So of course, I bought and downloaded it.
And it’s still great, even though I played with the Wii Remote, which really doesn’t work well. The most used button is A, which when you use the remote sideways is next to the d-pad, so hardly easy to access. I should have just plugged the Classic Controller in, but it was just so far away on the coffee table.
Anyway. I reached level 8, and have 3 parts of the ship already. Hurrah for the Save State facility of the Wii!