ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth

Review

posted 11/20/2002 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: Xbox
The missions themselves don’t change all that much throughout the game, most of them have you delivering items, unlocking special gifts, and converting Earthlings. Every so often you’ll run across one of the 12 missing records from the Funkopotumus’ personal funk vinyl collection. Not only is this your main missions, but it also allows you to change the background music.

Surprisingly the audio was one of the most noticeable problems with the game. The music never stands out, and the dialogue is only funny for a certain amount of time. It would have been nice if Sega had gone to the trouble of licensing real funk songs for the soundtrack, perhaps a little P Funk All Stars. Between levels the aliens three lay down some beats, but none of them are entertaining in the least. The music certainly could be worse, but in this day and age, it should have been a lot better.

However, it is worth noting that at the beginning of every stage a gospel choir will sing you your mission. This is both entertaining and extremely well done. This, in fact, was probably the highlight of the audio for me.

ToeJam & Earl III was originally announced for the Dreamcast, however, due to circumstances not even funky aliens can control, the game ended up on the Xbox, and it shows. The graphics are truly wonderful, filled with small bits of humor, fantastic animation, and some extremely well done cinema cut-scenes. The designers have created one of the most intriguing examples of Earth you’re bound to see, complete with just about every climate and location around this great world.

What would Earth be without diverse people all living together? There are cowboys, chefs, dentists, animals, nasty little girls, yetis, Santa’s elves, ghosts of cows, and even a man in a big carrot costume. There are more than thirty different Earthlings, and some of them need to be seen to be believed. Perhaps on purpose, ToeJam & Earl paints a picture of Earth that is scarier than anything on any other planets. You’ll never know whom you’ll have to convert next, which is one of the best features of the game.

The problems start when you try managing your inventory. Since each level has you picking up dozens of items, you’ll usually have quite a list of gifts before you know it. They are all show in one long line, which is both a little confusing, and really hard to navigate. There is no way of manually changing the list, and so you must cycle through the entire list looking for what you want to use. This get even worse when enemies randomize your gifts and make you have to identify them again. This is challenging, but it’s also frustrating.

Looking past the inventory issues, you’ll find quite a number of gifts. These individually wrapped presents contain some of the strangest items I have ever seen. Everything from Icarus Wings that make you fly, to organic food to give you all your life back, to decoys, so the Earthlings won’t chase you. These work like power-ups, and can be a lot of fun, but also tend to get bogged down by the unfriendly inventory set up.
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