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Video Game / ToeJam & Earl

Ouch, man. That's cold.

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/Genesis 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.

In late February 2015, it was announced a new game in the series would be made called Back in the Groove, with Kickstarter funding to allow added features, by the game creator Greg Johnson, which as of March 25th has successfully been funded. Fund the Kickstarter here.

The series as a whole 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).
  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: In the first two games, ToeJam wears a white baseball cap, white gloves, a medallion, and white shoes. In Mission to Earth, he gains a white shirt and blue pants.
  • Aerith and Bob: Self explanatory.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: There are a few child enemy types in Panic on Funkotron, who attack with tomatoes, spitballs and kicking the player in the shins.
    • The shin-kicking child enemies return in Mission to Earth.
  • Cloudcuckooland: Earth is... a very strange place.
  • Cool Shades: Earl.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer
  • Drives Like Crazy: Earl.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Earl wears blue pants with red polka-dots, white tennis shoes, and sunglasses, but no shirt.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: For the most part. Some Earthlings will help you out for the right price.
  • 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 in the first game will harm you instead; these take the form of rotten or health foods.
  • Little Girls Kick Shins: An enemy Earthling in the second and third games.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Or lack thereof. Can lead to several otherwise-innocuous enemies becoming Demonic Spiders.
  • Mondegreen: There were rumors that Toejam and Earl were originally named Flowjam and Whirl, but the man coding their names in misheard them and wrote in Toejam and Earl. Greg recently announced that this was not true, he was something of a Trolling Creator when tired during interviews.
  • Mooks but No Bosses: One of the few gameplay tropes shared between the original game and its sequel.
  • Multiplayer-Only Item: One of the presents available exclusively in a two-player game is called "Togetherness". When used, it brings the other player to the player who used it.
  • Name and Name
  • New Jack Swing: Alongside pure hip hop, the first 3 games' soundtracks were influenced by new jack swing heavily. It was met with a positive response for the first two games, but Mission To Earth was criticized for the dated-sounding new jack production.
  • 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.
    • ''Panic on Funkotron also has various recurring Funkotronians who will give the player hints on where to find secret areas.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: The series almost rivals Earthbound for the amount of silly, bizarre enemy types.
  • 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.
    • The sequel provides an actual Oxygen Meter, which can be replenished either by surfacing or finding certain fish to kiss and steal air from.
  • Produce Pelting: Tomatoes are a surprisingly popular weapon. Even some enemies get in on it.
  • Rain of Something Unusual: One of the presents is called "Tomato Rain", which, when used, makes tomatoes rain down from the sky. These tomatoes can hit anyone unlucky enough to be standing under them, whether it be Toejam and Earl themselves, or the enemy Earthlings.
  • 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. Overlaps with Guide Dang It as level 0 is so ludicrously hidden people spent days trying to find it.
    • The sequel has numerous secret rooms (usually containing loads of presents, health items, or one of the Funkopotamus' favorite things.)
  • Starfish Aliens: Earl looks relatively humanoid, but Toejam has three legs and two eyestalks with no head. A few of the other residents of Funkotron are equally bizarre-looking.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Despite some Earthlings having no such compunctions, any direct attacks Toejam & Earl have are non-lethal (except maybe exploiting a bit of Video Game Cruelty Potential) with tomato-throwing in the first game, trapping humans in jars and shipping them back to Earth in the second and "funkafying" them in the third.
  • Totally Radical: It would be hard to find someone in Real Life who uses the games' peculiar blend of slang without irony. This probably reaches its peak on the back of Panic on Funkotron's box, proclaiming "The Boyz R back & in worlds of trouble!"
  • 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.
    • In Mission to Earth you can shove humans off into Bottomless Pits, even after you've converted them, and even if they were never hostile to begin with.

The first ToeJam & Earl provides examples of:

  • Alcohol Hic: Guzzle a Root Beer and the boys will spend a few seconds burping as they walk around. This can awaken sleeping humans.
  • Arc Words: "Funk" is easily the series' favorite word, and shows up repeated in numerous contexts.
  • Bad Humor Truck: One of the enemies. Worse, it's a ghost ice cream truck that teleports around.
  • Blah Blah Blah: If you jump into the hot tub with the two Wahinis on Level 0, Toejam and/or Earl will talk with them, exclusively depicted with random utterances of "chat", "giggle" and "titter".
  • A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: At the end of the game, ToeJam is revealed to have two younger twin sisters and a baby sibling of an indeterminate gender in his family.
  • 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.)
  • Cutscenes: In the first game, when traveling in the elevator to the next level while in Two-Player mode, you can hear a conversation by ToeJam & Earl, with hilarious results.
  • Depraved Dentist: One of the enemies.
  • Threatening Shark: If a shark gets close, you'll hear a quick snippet of the Jaws theme as a warning.
  • 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.
  • Fragile Speedster: ToeJam is faster than Earl but has a shorter life bar.
  • Healing Spring: The hot tub on level 0 replenishes all your health.
  • 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.
  • Involuntary Dance:
    • The Hula Dancer enemy can distract Toejam and Earl by making them dance compulsively, but is otherwise harmless.
    • The Boom Box item distracts enemy Earthlings by making them dance.
  • MacGuffin: The ten spaceship parts in the first game and Lamont the Funkopatomus's 12 Sacred Albums of Funk in the third. The second has Lamont's ten favorite things, which aren't necessary to complete the game, but are to get the Golden Ending.
  • Medium Awareness: In the first game, the characters introduce themselves and explain the entire situation to the player.
  • Mood Whiplash: Most of the presents have cheery and/or funky designs on them despite what they contain, so you might open a large purple present with white polka-dots on it only for the present to kill you instantly.
  • One-Hit Kill: The "Total Bummer" present will drain your character's entire life bar in one go.
  • Parrot Exposition: All Earl does in the intro (outside of the flashback) is just repeat things that Toejam just said.
  • Personal Rain Cloud: A nuisance occasionally found in presents.
  • Poison Mushroom: Some presents have intentionally bad effects, such as the Schoolbook, Randomizer, and Total Bummer.
    • 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.
  • Portal Door: The Doorway present creates a door which, when entered, deposits you in a random location in the current level.
  • 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: Plays like a a game in the "roguelite" sub-genre that was named years later, though a game takes more time than a typical roguelite, and there is no carry-over between games. 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 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.
  • Shout-Out: When ToeJam and Earl use the super hi-tops long enough, they will say "Meep Meep".
  • 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.)
  • Sprint Shoes
  • Squashed Flat: Happens rather frequently, either as a result of attacks by certain Earthlings or when your own partner lands on top of you.
  • 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.
  • Take That: If you make it to the end of the original game, there is a secret area on Funkotron with a single female alien who says "No hedgehogs round here."
  • Too Awesome to Use: Players might be tempted to hoard the most choice presents in the game.
  • 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!
  • Warp Whistle: One that comes in two varieties. In single-player games, the Unfall present warps you up one level, assuming you've been to said level before. In multiplayer, it turns into the Togetherness present, which warps the user to the other player's location.
  • 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.

ToeJam & Earl: Panic on Funkotron provides examples of:

  • Alien Invasion: Inverted; It's the aliens who are trying to fend off an Earthling invasion.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: The Earthlings got to Funkotron by clinging to the sides of ToeJam and Earl's ship through space.
  • Big Eater: Bloona is always seen eating something (and she's always trying to force feed Peabo candy as well.)
  • Blinding Camera Flash: The game features Hawaiian Shirted Tourists who use their camera flash as a weapon.
  • Brick Joke: Near the start of the game, the duo can ring the doorbell on a house, causing the owner to come out and ask if they're there to fix the plumbing. In the Playable Epilogue, they run across the same house and the owner asks the same question, prompting them to point out that they've done this already.
  • Bonus Stage: The Hyper Funk Zone.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Flarney, thanks to having two heads, meaning he can never make up his mind about anything and tends to give fairly unhelpful hints as a result.
  • Context-Sensitive Button : Ducking while a tourist is on screen makes Toe Jam and Earl cover their eyes from the flash. Ducking while the Flying Duck is near makes Toe Jam and Earl dive for cover.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Stages will occasionally turn monochrome thanks to the Funk draining out of Funkotron, causing the player's Funk meter to bottom out until the color returns.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: "Lil' Kids" mode makes it impossible to die, but ends the game after level five, thus robbing players of the chance to collect the Funkopotamus' favorite things and get the good ending.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: Part of the HUD includes an arrow that points to the nearest Earthling (turning into a flashing red circle if they're somewhere on-screen.) When all Earthlings are captured, it points to the rocket at the end of the level, instead.
  • Everything Sensor: The Funk Radar, which detects anything that's hidden on-screen, including presents, secret doors and Earthlings.
  • Every 10,000 Points
  • Fisher King: Lamont the Funkopotamus, the source of all Funk in Funkotron. When the invading humans scare him into hiding in the Funk D'mension, all Funk starts to slowly fade from the planet.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: One fiery area is called "Hot and Bothered".
  • Goggles Do Nothing: The fact that Earl wears sunglasses doesn't make him any safer from enemies with flashbulbs.
  • Golden Ending: Finishing the game with all ten of the Funkopotamus' favorite things triggers the best ending, where the Funkopotamus returns to his throne of Funk.
  • Guide Dang It: Collecting the Funkopotamus's favorite things.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: By completing six perfect runs of the Hyper Funk Zone, you get unlimited superjars for the rest of the game.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The Panic Button, which causes the player to run wildly without taking damage and while hurling jars everywhere.
  • Mana Meter: The Funk meter, which powers the Funk Move and Funk Radar.
  • Mood-Swinger: Sharla. She's always crying, but whether she's crying tears of joy or tears of happiness seems to change on a whim.
  • Naked People Are Funny: One of the enemies is a seemingly-naked guy in a cardboard box who sings "Figaro!"
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: One of the enemies is a ghost cow.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The "Funkopotamus" looks more like a tiny googly-eyed lizard.
  • Official Couple: Bloona and Peabo by the end of the game. Also ToeJam/Earl and Leshawna in the best ending, depending on who the player is controlling (if it's a co-op game, she introduces her never-before seen identical twin sister for the second player.)
  • One-Hit Kill: Super Jars can trap an Earthling with a single hit.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Trixie is some kind of green alien mermaid who appears when the player finds one of her Super Secret Funk Orbs, granting the duo a power-up (like unlimited coins, unlimited Funk-Vacs, or double the gains on presents) that lasts until the end of the level.
  • Overly Long Gag: Pleading with the Funkopotamus to come out.
    "Please?" "No." [repeats 15 times]
  • Pair the Spares: Leshawna officially hooks up with ToeJam in the Golden Ending in co-op mode, while Earl is introduced to her identical twin sister.
  • People Jars: ToeJam and Earl use their trap-o-matic jars to catch the Earthlings invading Funkotron. It takes several to successfully capture one of them.
  • Playable Epilogue: Pretty much everything after "The Final Battle" could count. The only fight after that is against one last group of enemies that can't directly damage you.
  • Power Up Let Down: One of Trixie's level-long power-ups is giving the player immediate max jumping height on jump pads. Not only does it not take that long to reach max height on your own (unless you really suck at the timing) but it also gets really annoying when you find that you can't stop jumping.
  • Rambling Old Man Monologue: Otis is rather fond of these.
  • Rhythm Game: The "Jam Out" sessions, where the player can basically play Simon Says for more Funk.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Smoot is a total narcissist.
  • Smart Bomb: The Funk-Vac in Panic on Funkotron.
  • Twin Switch: Chester and Lester love to pull this. Only one of them is ever seen on-screen at a time, and them constantly flip-flopping on who the duo is talking to becomes a Running Gag. At the end of the game, they ask if Chester and Lester really are twins or just one person who's been screwing with everyone this whole time. The answer: Yes.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: Even if you try to cheat and get to the secret rooms where the Funkopatomus' favorite things are held without getting the proper NPC hints first, the hidden doors won't actually appear until you're told where they are.

ToeJam & Earl: Mission to Earth provides examples of:

Alternative Title(s): Toejam And Earl