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DZNUTZ
05-01-2002, 12:39 PM
Hands-On: ToeJam & Earl 3
With aliens this funky who needs Sigourney Weaver? Our first impressions.





April 30, 2002 - For those who never played the original, TJ&E is a mixture of humor and action. ToeJam, Big Earl, and newcomer Latisha hunt for the 12 sacred Albums of Funk, which have been swiped by some square Earthlings with no love of funk. Yes, things are all funked-up, and only you can convert those pesky earthlings into lovers of funk.
Features:

Randomly generated worlds
Solo or split-screen multiplayer
Unique Earthlings to meddle with
A plethora of power-up presents
Use "rhythm matching" to funkify Earthlings
Volumes of voiceovers to bring the many characters to life
Over 40 original funk songs
Mini-games and side quests
Toe Jam & Earl III promises a unique gaming experience each time it's played. How's this possible? Every game is randomly generated, so no two games will be the same. This should offer plenty of replay value. And in this day and age of short, short games, replay value is eagerly welcomed.
Hil's take
I never got into ToeJam & Earl on Genesis. Which is strange since this is the kind of offbeat game I love. Heck, this is the kind of game I love Sega for. Though I may have missed the boat early on, I now have a chance to grab the coattails of this funk phenomenon. On the subject of funk, I gotta admit to being a lover of all things Parliament. So the prospect of a game based in funk is, well, appealing to me. So maybe I am being a little harsh on Sega when I say that what they have is not a game steeped in funk. The overdone cut scenes with gyrating ToeJam, Earl, and Latisha along with their "raps" they perform at the character select screen come off as outsiders trying to make something hip. That's not to say that the gameplay isn't good, because it is, but the presentation rings false. The harder they try to be hip, the more painful it becomes.

So now that I've smacked Sega's hand with a ruler, it's time to get into the meat of the game. ToeJam & Earl III is constructed of five hubs. Each hub is a different environment (grassy field, urban, and snow are examples) with different inhabitants. The hubs house sublevels where the real game takes place. The ingenious part of the TJ&E series is that each sublevel world is randomly generated. That means you'll never experience the same thing twice. Talk about game longevity.



Earl Funk Fuing


The goal in TJ&E III is the retrieval of a stolen funk vinyl collection. Hidden throughout the worlds, it will take the considerable talent of ToeJam, Earl, and Latisha to recover every album. The albums each have three songs on them, which can be played during the game. Also some of them spoof other album covers, which is great. Humor is the name of the game for TJ&E. To complete their mission, the trio need to funkify the inhabitants of a little mudball planet called Earth. This is accomplished in a variety of ways, using presents which can be found and bought in both the hubs and sublevels.

As you funkify people and chickens (yes, you can give chickens funk) you'll earn new belts and gain rank. There are seven different belts and nine different monikers, ranging from Weiner to Funklord. Funkified earthlings can be spoken to, and they often have interesting or funny things to offer. There's a large variety of earthlings from pom-pom wielding cheerleaders to pouty old ladies. Humor and variety are the hallmark of the TJ&E series and it appears the third in the series continues that tradition.

By hitting B you can open the present menu, listing all of the presents in your possession. Some presents are used to funkify earthlings while others will help you escape danger. Best of the presents I saw was 'Stupid Hiding'. ToeJam pulls out two branches and declares, "I am a tree." Other presents include a bull horn so you can tell folks to "chill out" and healing food. Not all presents are good. Some will hurt you or make it difficult to do your job of funkifying others. As you progress in the game, you'll come across unidentified presents, so opening them can be a huge risk.

Of all the challenges, the most amusing seems to be the karaoke mic battle. Face off against a boss on stage, in a Parappa-like battle to win the most fans. There is also the possibility of a freeform battle, letting you do your own mix of button moves to outwit your opponent. That's a "maybe" for the final, but I've got my fingers crossed. And my legs, toes, and eyes.

TJ&E III is beautiful, rich in color and style. It's one of those games you want to play just to wander around and look at all the pretty things. The principle characters have dozens of unique animations and a slew of humorous sayings to keep the game from getting boring.

Aside from the random environments, TJ&E III will have online capabilities to add to its shelf life. What can be downloaded and when? Well, that hasn't really been set in stone yet. But expect some things that will reinvigorate the game for you. TJ&E III looks on track to deliver a unique experience, though the developers need to learn what 'funk' is. Please George Clinton, bestow knowledge upon them!

Aaron's Take

Any half-knowledgeable, even slightly conscious person with ears knows that there is a significant difference between Hip Hop and Funk. While very closely related, the two genres are absolutely not interchangeable like say Country and Western or even Dentist Office and Elevator. In my mind, this major oversight and the development team's stereotypical expression of this flawed thinking on such a grand scale are the only things that could hold back ToeJam & Earl from making their glorious return to videogame consoles. Other than that, ToeJam & Earl 3 should be everything Xbox owners could want from one of Sega's most celebrated platformer franchises.

For such a bright and kiddy-ish looking game, TJ&E surprised me with how much stuff there is to do throughout each level with each different character. With ToeJam, Earl and Latisha, players will get a different set of attributes that will have a huge effect on how you play both the single and two player co-op game. Big Earl is an expert at "Funk Fu", what you and I know as melee combat, so he's better suited to just take on uncool Earthlings face to face. ToeJam has stronger "Funktifying" powers, allowing him to better convert earthlings with a musical note from his giant radio.

As the squad of Earl, Latisha and ToeJam travel the earth looking for Lamont the Great Funkapotamus' 12 sacred funk albums, they're forced to deal with annoying humans by converting them into afro-wearing, funk-loving disciples. This is supposed to be better and more humane than killing them, but if you take a look at the screens of post-funk conversions you'll see there's room for debate there.



Wouldn't be complete without flying


The level design and item system, along with the co-op gameplay are going to be the game's strengths. You get five themed worlds (forest, ice, urban, etc.) with multiple sublevels associated with each one. While the individual world "hubs" are lush and full of all kinds of objectives and characters that need your attention, the sublevels are randomly generated so that each time you play the game you're getting something fresh. Once you access an area it will remain the same for that gaming session but next time you power up your Xbox and go into the same doorway/portal from the same hubworld, you're going to get something new. And if the online plans for TJ&E3 work out the way TJ&E Productions wants them too, there could be an endless supply of new themed levels.

The items you'll get to use are as clever as they are numerous. Collecting and using these items will be a major part of TJ&E3. One of my favorites was the giant megaphone ToeJam used to "chill out" earthlings by hollering "chill out!" at them. They froze and it was funny. The stupid hiding trick item let ToeJam pose like a tree even though he was only holding a branch in each hand. But the enemies couldn't see him so that too was funny. The total number of items hasn't been set yet, but the development team says we can expect scores, not handfuls of them.

The co-op gameplay mechanic is brilliant even though some of the details are still being worked out. What we do know is that both players will play on the same screen until they get too far apart. At that point, the game automatically splits the screen seamlessly. Bringing them back with in range will automatically bring the action back on to one screen. Furthermore, you have a great gameplay elements that allow you to give health from one character to another when one is dangerously low.

the item system works like an inventory setup in an RPG where you collect stuff and horde it until you need it. The team at TJ&E Productions is still tinkering with the idea of having one pool of items that both players share or some kind of real time swapping of items between players.



Oh, and there's dancing too

DZNUTZ
05-01-2002, 12:39 PM
The whole thing about funky space aliens was a lot more charming on the Genesis. Now on the Xbox, all of the inane rapping and voice samples are brought to our ears with crystal clarity so there's no way we can miss out on the developer's misdirected take on the Hip Hop and Funk subcultures. The visuals are in beautiful 3D, all the better to catch a glimpse of Latisha's neck rolling and ToeJam's stereotypical "rapper" hand gestures made popular by every non-rapper that's ever imitated a rapper on television, in the movies or at the country club. But we're getting off track again.

ToeJam and Earl 3 has tremendous promise based on its clever gameplay mechanics and co-operative gameplay mode. We'll have plenty more on this title as it progresses and we'll be keeping an eye out for the Mothership trying to make a connection with ToeJam & Earl.

-- IGNhttp://xbox.ign.com/articles/358/358272p2.html

GokuX
05-01-2002, 01:32 PM
Should be cool. Thanks for the info.

DZNUTZ
05-01-2002, 01:37 PM
yea it would be cool if they got some funk musicians to contribute....george clinton,funkadelic,parliment etc etc..

plus i remeber liking the original a loooooooong time ago...i'm interested to see the jump in technology and how their gonna apply it to this game

Nato King
05-01-2002, 04:09 PM
Originally posted by GokuX
Should be cool. Thanks for the info.

Like Gokux said this game will be very cool. I saw the Preview to this game in the OXM and I really liked it. I have never played any Toe Jam & Earl but by the look of this it could be a buy.:)

EHWfedPres
05-01-2002, 04:11 PM
Not my kind of game really...

Tigerbob4
05-01-2002, 08:41 PM
i remeber spending hours with my friends playing on genesis. Where can i see a preview of the game...(some pics)
I am really excited
oh yea...when was there a toejam and earl II?

MixMasta
05-01-2002, 10:03 PM
i might get it, but i will definitely check it out!!

Hugh_Jass
05-01-2002, 10:35 PM
It looks like a quirky and fun game to me.

Discretion
05-02-2002, 12:07 AM
SSWEEET I love Toe Jam and EARL!!!

Crazy Joe
05-02-2002, 01:44 PM
man, i have been waiting for so long to hear some info on this game. I love Toejam and Earl, I played that game all the time on Sega Genesis. Thanks for the heads up DZNUTZ