A company as old as Sega is bound to have more than a few franchises they can resurrect when sales are slow, or originality is scarce. But who would have thought that Sega would use both hands when reaching into their bag of classics?
From Panzer Dragoon to Shinobi, Sega’s 2002 E3 line-up looked more like a blast from the past, than the next generation. They proudly paraded sequel after sequel, all with the sole purpose of bringing back memories of my youth. And while I freely admit I enjoyed most of the games they showed off, I did come away with the feeling that somewhere between the death of the Dreamcast and now, Sega has managed to lose their edge and originality.
ToeJam & Earl III is a perfect example. It’s a game that has nothing technically wrong with it … yet it manages to feel old, and somewhat stale. Based on a 1990’s Genesis game, Sega manages to make this third installment just as much fun as the original. This, however, ends up being something of a double-edged sword.
ToeJam & Earl are about the funkiest animated characters since George Clinton. ToeJam is a three-legged scrawny dude that thinks he’s a little more fly than he actually is, and Earl is a slow, fat blob of an alien who a little looks like a larger, not to mention orange, SpongeBob (of SpongeBob SquarePants). Each of these two characters are packed full of personality, and are a riot to watch. They have unique sayings, and interact with their surroundings in completely different ways.
There is also a new character, Latisha, who brings some much-needed attitude to this installment. She is something of an acquired taste, and most of my friends were completely annoyed by her comments. But I like her; I found that she had the funniest comments, and the best voice acting.
Thankfully you don’t have to play as only one character, you can choose at almost any time which of the three characters you want to control. The characters are different, but only in non-essential ways. ToeJam, for example, may be a little faster, while Earl can’t jump as high, and has a longer life gauge. This way you can still enjoy the game without worrying that you have chosen the wrong character for the mission.
The tasks haven’t changed all that much since the original ToeJam & Earl on the Sega Genesis. You have been sent down to Earth to convert the non-believers to the power of the funk. With each Earthling you convert you get a certain amount of points, get enough and you’ll reach another rank, or in other words, level up. This is no Final Fantasy, but it’s nice to see little things like this implemented in action games.
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