Supremely funky alien homeboys ToeJam and "Big" Earl, proud residents of the planet Funkotron, have crashlanded on the decidedly lame and non-funky planet of Earth. The impact, while leaving them unharmed, scattered pieces of their spacecraft all over the planet, and finding all of these pieces is the only way to get back home. Sounds simple in principle. The Earth's natives might be a bit of trouble, though...ToeJam & Earl is a series of video games known mainly for its first entry, released in 1991 on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, although two more games exist. The first game, with the same name as the series, is an exploration-oriented Action Adventure game with an overhead perspective and (the option of) randomly-generated levels.The sequels are ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron, an extremely different two-dimensional Platform Game released on the Mega Drive in 1993, where the Duo has made it back home, only to find that several Earthlings have somehow stowed aboard, and are now causing Panic on Funkotron, and ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth, a three-dimensional Platform Game released on the Microsoft Xbox in 2002. They were also featured in Ready, Aim, Tomatoes!, a pack-in game with the Genesis's Menacer light-gun peripheral.A beta of the third game was released, bearing many more similarities to the first game than the finished product.
This series provides examples of:
Abnormal Ammo: The original game features tomatoes as the protagonists' weapon of choice. Panic on Funkotron features jars that capture enemies (though it takes multiple jars to weaken the enemy).
Alcohol Hic: Guzzle a Root Beer and the boys will spend a few seconds burping as they walk around. This can awaken sleeping humans.
Bad Humor Truck: One of the enemies. Worse, it's a ghost ice cream truck that teleports around.
Cartography Sidequest: In the first game, you acquire (experience) points for every map tile you uncover.
Chest Monster: Variation: the dreaded Mailbox Monster, who will totally send you to Lamerville if it gets you. Less notable are the Earthling presents which may or may not summon harmful enemies.
Comedic Underwear Exposure: Earl's shorts occasionally fall and he has to stop to pull them up. A rare example of this trope as a gameplay mechanic. (Incidentally, his underwear is almost identical to his pants.)
Easy-Mode Mockery: "Lil' Kids" mode in Panic on Funkotron makes it impossible to die, but ends the game after level five, thus robbing players of the chance to collect the Funkopotamus' favourite things and get the good ending.
Experience Points: Earned by opening presents and flipping over map tiles. Your levels expand your health bar.
Fake Balance: Earl has a little more health, but screw that, walking faster is a huge asset in this game. The difference between the two is pretty slight so it doesn't matter much.
Floating Continent: Each level in the original is a piece of land floating in a void. If you drop off the edge, you will land in the previous level, implying that they are arranged in a vertical stack. Try falling off the bottom-left corner of Level 1.
Hyperactive Metabolism: Food items heal you to varying degrees, generally corresponding to the tastiness or richness of the food (e.g. a hot fudge sundae will heal you more than a bowl of cereal). Some food items will harm you instead; these take the form of rotten or health foods.
Idle Animation: If you leave them idle too long, they'll actually fall asleep. You then have to mash the buttons a bunch of times to have a disembodied voice yell at them to wake up.
Medium Awareness: In the first game, the characters introduce themselves and explain the entire situation to the player.
Mighty Glacier: Earl is slower than ToeJam and his pants fall down occasionally, slowing you down, but has a longer life bar.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At the end of the first game the guys are received as heroes for surviving a visit to the most dangerous planet in the known universe. That is, until it's discovered that a large number of Earthlings followed them back and are trashing Funkotron. ToeJam and Earl set out to solve the problem themselves seemingly to avoid being punished for it.
Also the reaction a character has when the other opens a "Total Bummer!" while they're both on the same screen, meaning they both die instantly. "Nice going."
NPC: Helpful Earthlings include the Wizard, who will fully heal you for a buck; the Wise Carrot, who will tell you the contents of a given present in your inventory for two bucks; the Opera Singer, who will kill all enemies on the screen with her voice for three; and Santa Claus, who will drop presents from his sack if you can sneak up on him.
One-Hit Kill: The "Total Bummer" present will drain your character's entire life bar in one go.
Oxygen Meter: Your life bar drains while you're underwater, but it replenishes to what it was when you climb out (or refills when you die and respawn in the water). Use an Inner Tube to avoid having to hold your breath.
There is a literal mushroom that, if eaten, will take a significant portion of the characters' health.
The rain cloud is a classic example. You open a present just to have a rain cloud follow you around, giving you a nigh-unavoidable shock for slight damage every so often.
The Total Bummer just kills you upon opening it, no questions asked.
Power-Up Letdown: Opening new presents is always a gamble, and about 25% of the time it's a harmful present. Even useful presents opened at the wrong time can set you back. Opening Rocket Skates can potentially send you back several levels.
Press X to Die: Opening an identified "Total Bummer" present would qualify. Best to drop them right away lest you wind up opening it accidentally.
Quicksand Sucks: The protagonists will sink in sand, but not far enough to suffocate; their movement just slows the farther they sink. And it's more like desert sand (including cacti!) than quicksand.
Roguelike: Partial use. The first game is not a true roguelike, but it has elements of one in that it has two gameplay modes, Random World and Fixed World. In Random World, each level is randomly generated, along with the enemies therein and the locations of presents. In Fixed World, all of these things have set forms and locations.
Also, you have to climb up floors, you gain experience points, and presents are challenging to identify. Lots of the presents are bad, including one little SOB that re-randomizes all the presents, including itself!
RPG Elements: There are nine player rankings. Which ranking you currently have is based on your score, which is primarily increased by opening presents and exploring more of the map. "Wiener", as seen in the screenshot above, is the lowest ranking.
Secret Level: In the first game, the very first level has a hidden entrance to a level 0, where ToeJam and Earl can get extra lives and chat with some cuties in a hot tub. Getting to the entrance requires a lot of swimming (or Icarus Wings or Rocket Skates), so the players must first acquire some appropriate presents to reach it without drowning. Leaving the secret level returns the players to the highest level they've reached so far.
Sneeze of Doom: Though it's incredibly rare, ToeJam and Earl may sneeze when sneaking past sleeping enemies or attempting to surprise Santa, ruining the attempt.
Split Screen: When Toejam and Earl get far enough apart in the first game, the screen splits so they can split up and search individually. They can even be on entirely different levels (although the higher player won't be able to advance further until the lower player catches up.)
Standard Status Effects: Quite a few. Schoolbooks put you to sleep, which makes you helpless to enemy attacks, forcing you to button mash your way to being awake. Wahini will make you do a dance if you get too close to her, slowing you down. Cupids fire arrows which make you lovestruck. Finally, the Rain Cloud will randomly drain your health with lightning bolts.
Too Awesome to Use: Players might be tempted to hoard the most choice presents in the game.
Totally Radical: It would be hard to find someone in Real Life who uses the games' peculiar blend of slang without irony.
Unidentified Items: Presents are initially unidentified. Though, since all presents of the same design contain the same item or effect, using one automatically identifies any identical ones (whether in the player's inventory or on the ground). The "man in the carrot suit" is a randomly-appearing NPC who can identify a present for a few dollars. This is important because one of the effects is the Randomizer, which unidentifies all presents and scrambles the design-effect relationships!
Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can steal presents from Santa in the first game. In Panic on Funkotron, you can drive your neighbors to distraction by continually ringing their doorbell, but unlike stealing presents it serves no practical purpose.
What Does This Button Do?: The characters exchange comedic banter in the elevator rides between levels in two-player mode. One skit has Earl asking this and ToeJam stopping him before they get in even more trouble.