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Video Game / ToeJam & Earl

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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 the titular first entry, released in 1991 on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. The first game is an exploration-oriented Action-Adventure game with an overhead perspective and (the option of) randomly-generated levels, giving it a roguelike feel.

The sequels include ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron, a 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 stowed onboard, and are now causing Panic on Funkotron. ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth was a three-dimensional platformer released on Microsoft's Xbox in 2002 (the game had been intended for the Sega Dreamcast, but after Sega went third-party, it was ported over to the Xbox as part of Sega's quasi-alliance with them at the time). ToeJam and Earl 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 from when it was intended for the Dreamcast was discovered and released, bearing many more similarities to the first game than the finished product.


In late February 2015, series creator Greg Johnson announced a fourth game in the series, Back in the Groove, that was successfully funded on Kickstarter. It was released in March of 2019, and is a return to the style of the original game.

The series as a whole provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: Critics have interpreted the games as a lighthearted satire of America's urban and hip-hop culture.
  • 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.
  • Advertisement:
  • All Myths Are True: Earth is home to ghosts, devils, wizards, boogie men, cupids, monsters, and even Santa Claus. No vampires or werewolves in sight, but the possibility of their existence cannot be entirely ruled out.
  • Binomium ridiculus: Many of the Earthlings follow this naming convention, at least in the instruction manual. Justified in the fact the game is written from the perspective of aliens.
  • 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. Back in the Groove features little girls who perform silly flying kicks... that will take off more health than anything else in the game.
    • Though not an enemy per se, Lewanda's little brother(s) love messing with their sister's friends.
  • Chest Monster:
    • The Mailbox Monster, as its name implies, looks exactly like one of the mailboxes you can order presents from, with the exception that it'll occasionally open its eyes to look around, revealing its true nature. They're extremely fast and hit fairly hard, so approaching all mailboxes with extreme caution is advised.
    • Back in the Groove features fake elevators. If you and/or your squad are foolish enough to enter one, it drops you down a level instead of taking you up. While it doesn't have a semi-obvious tell like the Mailbox Monster, you at least have a brief moment to escape from its clutches once it reveals itself.
  • Cloudcuckooland: Earth is... a very strange place.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer
  • Dance Party Ending: All the games feature the protagonists jamming out at the end.
  • Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer: After a one-player game is started, a second player can jump in at any time without penalty. It's even taken literally as the second player drops right in where the first player is standing, meaning, in the first game, the first player better move or he'll get crushed by his partner.
  • Fat and Skinny: Earl and Toejam, respectively.
  • Happy Ending Override:
    • The ending of the first game has the Funkotronians welcoming ToeJam and Earl back from their trip to earth. The introduction to Panic on Funkotron reverts it when the inhabitants discover that earthlings have stowed away on their rocketship during their return trip.
    • Mission to Earth overrides the second game's earthling-free happy ending with Lamont explaining that the twelve Sacred Albums of Funk have been stolen.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Played for Laughs, obviously. However, there're some Earthlings that 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 foods.
  • Innocent Aliens: Toejam and Earl are both very nice. It's the humans who are the enemies.
  • Jump Scare: Quite a few villains will provide those for the player — most notoriously the Boogie Man in the first game.
  • Little Girls Kick Shins: An enemy Earthling from the second game onward.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Zig-Zagged. It only happens when ToeJam or Earl are Squashed Flat. Otherwise, this can lead to several otherwise-innocuous enemies becoming much more difficult to handle.
  • Mooks but No Bosses: One of the few gameplay tropes shared between the original game and its sequel. Mission to Earth does have bosses, but Back in the Groove returns to this trope.
  • Multiple Endings: Beating the game in co-op as ToeJam and Earl together usually gets you an extended ending of some kind, with Panic on Funktron additionally having a Golden Ending for 100% completion.
  • 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.
    • In single player mode, or after the other player loses all lives, "Togetherness" becomes "Un-Fall", which transports you back to the highest level you've made it to.
  • New Jack Swing: Alongside pure hip hop, all 4 games' soundtracks are 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. "Thanks a lot."
  • NOT!: In Ready, Aim, Tomatoes!, if you fail to to rack up enough points needed to advance to the next level, you get this line from the announcer:
    Good shooting...
  • 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.
    • Back in the Groove adds a number, including Gandhi, who makes you immune to damage when you're near him, a mysterious stranger who will offer to trade presents, a mechanic who will fix your broken presents for a fee, an Egyptian vizier who will reveal hidden passages, and a dolphin who will replenish your Oxygen Meter.
  • 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. In Back in the Groove, a Dolphin will replenish your oxygen meter, and there's also an unlockable Fish Power Hat that allows you to breathe underwater when you wear it.
  • Plot Coupons: The first game has the pieces of the boys' spaceship so they can escape the planet. Second game has Lamont the Funkapotamus's favorite things, needed to unlock the good ending. Mission to Earth has the Sacred Albums of Funk.
  • 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. Back In The Groove tomatoes only hurt earthlings, but don't discriminate between good and bad.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Toejam's "Youch!" in the first game. Toejam and Earl will also yell "Ow!" this way when kicked by a girl in Panic on Funkotron.
  • Secret Level:
    • In the first game, the very first level has a hidden entrance to 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.
    • The sequel has numerous secret rooms, usually containing loads of presents, health items, or one of the Funkopotamus' favorite things.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World:
    • Panic on Funkotron has icy hills which act as slides Toejam and Earl can ride to reach certain areas.
    • Some levels in the third and fourth games are covered in snow, which acts similarly to sand and covers all land besides lakes, which are frozen and slippery. Only floating earthlings can go over the frozen lakes, making them mostly safe to slide around on.
  • Surreal Humor: The series' quirky atmosphere is arguably its biggest selling point. The exaggerated 90's verbiage, new jack soundtrack, and colorful, absurdist tone give the games a lot of charm.
  • 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.
  • 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!"
    • Invoked in the commercial for the second game, where they subtitled a guy talking about the game's selling points in ridiculously over-the-top "street"-speak.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • You can steal presents from Santa in the first game.
    • Friendly NPCs can be destroyed in all the same ways that enemies can.
    • 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. Also worth mentioning is "Lil Kid Mode" where you can inflict unlimited damage to ToeJam and Earl without killing them.
    • 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.
    • Back In The Groove has the Special Delivery present that allows them to choose another present and apply it to another player of their choice. Sending them a bad present is possible, and there is even an achievement for sending an identified bad present. Also, the Hat of Bunny Ears makes tomatoes more powerful and enables friendly fire with them.
  • Video-Game Lives:
    • In the first game, ToeJam and Earl start with three extra lives each. An extra life is earned by opening a certain present, getting a lemonade in the secret level, or every third promotion level.
    • In the second game, ToeJam and Earl share a pool of three extra lives, with an extra life earned Every 10000 Points, up to a maximum of six.
    • The third game goes back to the first game's method of each player starting with their own set of three lives each.
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: What happens if your character loses a life in the first and third games. If it's their final life, they will wave goodbye to the fourth wall.

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.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: If you jump into the hot tub with the two Wahinis on Level 0, your character 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.
  • Binomium ridiculus: The humans and animals are given "scientific" names that are nothing like the ones of their real life counterparts.
  • Canis Latinicus: The instruction booklet gives faux-Latinized names for each type of Earthling that appears in the game. Most memorable of these is Cupid's Latin name: "Cupidus Stupidus."
  • 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 attack if you get too close - and aside from waiting to see if eyes randomly appear in the mail slot, this is the only way to distinguish the two. Less notable are the Earthling presents which may or may not summon harmful enemies.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Earl's shorts occasionally fall down, revealing his spotted boxer shorts, and he has to stop to pull them up. A rare example of this trope as a gameplay mechanic.
  • 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.
  • Dig Attack: The moles who steal your presents.
  • Fragile Speedster / Mighty Glacier: Toejam runs a little faster than Earl, while Earl moves slower than Toejam but has a slightly longer life bar.
  • Every 10000 Points: By exploring the map and revealing portions of it, you gain experience points. You get promotions at certain amounts, which increase your maximum health and give you more lives.
  • 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 Toejam walks a little faster, which is more valuable for getting around and avoiding damage in the first place. The difference in stats is slight either way though.
  • 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.
  • Friend or Foe: Opening one of the tomato presents in co-op mode. ToeJam or Earl can lob tomatoes at one another, and they will take damage.
  • Game Gourmet: Like in a lot of games, food is healing items. There are good and bad foods, though, and different degrees of each. Generally the tastier the junk food you find is, the more health it restores.
  • 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. The Schoolbook also does this.
  • Involuntary Dance:
    • The Hula Dancer enemy can distract Toejam and Earl by making them dance compulsively, making them vulnerable to attacks from other Earthlings.
    • The Boom Box item distracts enemy Earthlings by making them dance.
  • Logo Joke: On the opening screen, Toejam and Earl's rocket flies toward the Sega logo. One of them sneezes, and the ship scoots upward to avoid crashing into it.
  • 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.
  • Mighty Glacier: Earl is slower than ToeJam and his pants fall down occasionally, forcing him to stop and pull them back up, but he has a longer life bar that lets him take more hits.
  • 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 to find out it contains instant death.
  • Oh, Crap!: Opening the Tomato Rain present will elect an "uh-oh" from whoever opened it.
  • One-Hit Kill: The "Total Bummer" present will drain your character's entire life bar in one go. If both characters happen to be together (no Split Screen), it kills them both.
  • Parental Neglect: The shopping cart lady, whose only interaction with her wailing baby is to stop occasionally and yell "SHUT UP!" at him.
  • 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 is a small thundercloud that follows your character around, zapping them with lightning and doing some damage over time.
  • Point of No Continues: Once ToeJam and Earl run out of lives, the game is over. If the surviving character has at least two lives, he can put the other back in the game by giving up one of his.
  • 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.
  • 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 as you careen wildly out of control.
    • Zig-Zagged with the telephone. If you find and collect it before it stops ringing, it will reveal several random portions of the map. While it can potentially reveal the location of the elevator or a ship piece (if there is one present on the floor), it can also be completely useless.
  • 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 otherwise more like desert sand (including cacti!) than quicksand.
  • Random Transportation: Doorway present.
  • Road Runner PC: ToeJam walks slightly faster than Earl.
  • Roguelike: Plays like a game in the rogue-lite sub-genre that would be named years later, though a game takes more time than a typical rogue-lite, 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 (As in, once every few games), ToeJam and/or Earl may randomly sneeze while sneaking, alerting any nearby enemies to their presence.
  • 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: Super Hi-Tops. They even come with a cute little honking horn sound.
  • 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 Snippet: "Hallelujah!"
  • 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 screws with the controls, usually by reversing them. 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 Trixie, who says "No hedgehogs round here."
  • Threatening Shark: If a shark gets close, you'll hear a quick snippet of the Jaws theme as a warning.
  • Taxonomic Term Confusion: The manual refers to the Nerdherd as a "Subspecies of human", even the given scientific name is "Geekus Dorkia", which would make it a full species. Not that it matters, since the actual scientific "Homo sapiens" is never used anyway.
  • 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!
  • Understatement: Total Bummer, a powerup found in presents. It instantly kills you.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: If you're playing a game with randomly generated floors, you may encounter a floor with an area that is completely isolated from where you spawn. If you encounter one of these floors, you better hope and pray the elevator/ship piece isn't there. If it is, you will need to use presents to get powerups that will allow you to get there...but what if you don't have any? There might be presents on lower floors with the necessary powerups, but if even they don't have the effects you need, this trope comes into play.
  • 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.
  • We Are Not Going Through That Again: When ToeJam and Earl are leaving Earth in two-player mode, Earl asks, "Can I drive?" ToeJam, knowing how that got them into the accident that led them to be stranded on Earth in the first place, responds, "No!"
  • 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.
  • Ascended Extra: Trixie, who appears in a secret area in the first game, gives out powers that last until the end of the current level in this one.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: The Earthlings got to Funkotron by clinging to the sides of ToeJam and Earl's ship through space.
  • Blinding Camera Flash: The game features Hawaiian Shirted Tourists who use their camera flash as a weapon.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Completing two perfect runs (collecting all of the presents) in each of the three Hyperfunk Zones will grant you infinite Super Jars for the rest of the game. This is much easier said than done, especially with the third layout which borders on Platform Hell.note  If you can achieve this Herculean feat, either you have inhuman reflexes or you've memorized all three stages, which would require playing through the game repeatedly in a short time span. Both of these prove that you're probably skilled enough not to need the infinite Super Jars to begin with.
  • 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.
  • Circling Birdies: ToeJam and Earl get the star variant if a heavy object falls on their heads.
  • Context-Sensitive Button: Pressing down normally makes ToeJam or Earl duck with the following exceptions:
    • While a tourist is on screen, this makes ToeJam or Earl cover their eyes from the flash.
    • While the Flying Duck is near, this makes ToeJam or Earl dive for cover.
    • If both players press down while ToeJam and Earl are facing each other, they will high five and even out their health bars.
  • 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.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: The Jam Out sessions increase in difficulty if you consistently reach the top of the scoring meter, eventually leading to some seriously intense sequences.
  • 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. Can apply also to the Funk Radar in regards to the ghost cow if it's gone invisible, as well as any other Earthlings if they're hiding in anything.
  • Everything Sensor: The Funk Radar, which detects anything that's hidden on-screen, including presents, secret doors and Earthlings.
  • Everything's Better with Cows: The ghost cow, which can possess and immobilize you if it gets too close.
  • Every 10,000 Points: Until you reach the cap of six extra lives.
  • Genre Shift: The other games are overhead view with Rogue-Lite elements, while this one is a side-scrolling Platform Game with just a dash of inventory management.
  • 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.
  • Human Snowball: Subverted. Some levels are covered in snow but ToeJam or Earl won't turn into snowballs if they slip down hills.
  • 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.
  • 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 Lewanda in the best ending, depending on who the player is controlling (if it's a co-op game, she introduces her identical cousin Sharice for the second player.)
  • Oh, Crap!: ToeJam and Earl when a news report outs them as bringing the Earthlings to Funkotron.
  • One-Hit Kill: Super Jars can trap an Earthling with a single hit.
  • Overly Long Gag: Pleading with the Funkopotamus to come out.
    "Please?" "No." [repeats 3 times]
  • Pair the Spares: Lewanda officially hooks up with ToeJam in the Golden Ending in co-op mode, while Earl is introduced to her identical cousin Sharice.
  • 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.
  • Rhythm Game: The "Jam Out" sessions, where the player can basically play Simon Says for more Funk.
  • Smart Bomb: The Funk-Vac in Panic on Funkotron.
  • 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:

  • Big Bad: While all other games lacked a main villain, the Anti-Funk is responsible for the plot and stole Lamont's 12 Funk Albums.
  • Darker and Edgier: This game is for a slightly older audience and has innuendo and mild swearing, which previous games lacked.
  • Disco: Disco balls appear over Earthlings in Mission to Earth who have been "funkified".
  • Downloadable Content: Mission to Earth had three extra characters—Geekjam, Earlbot, and Suteki—and some additional levels available while it was online-capable. The Xbox Exhibition Vol. 2 demo disc also made the DLC available for those without an account or an internet connection.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Earl can eat bad food without issue in this game, an ability carried over to Back in the Groove.
  • Fem Bot: DLC character Suteki.
  • Male Gaze: In the intro sequence Toejam keeps focusing the camera on Latisha's butt when he thinks she isn't looking.
  • Man on Fire: Happens when the "Burnin' Up" present is opened.
  • Mythology Gag: In the intro sequence we have Toejam greeting the viewers by saying "Greetings and various apropos felicitations." Magazine ads for the original game used the exact same line, as did the original game's cassette tape rap.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: The three leads could qualify. Earl is the chill and easygoing Nice, ToeJam is the selfish and egotistical Mean, and Latisha is the no-nonsense yet caring In-Between.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first game was about ToeJam and Earl getting back home, while Panic in Funkotron had them defending their home and cleaning up their own mess. This game sees them head back to Earth on a mission to save the universe and funk as we know it.
  • Sex Sells: An ad in Electronic Gaming Monthly had an arrow pointing to Latisha's cleavage, with the message "Sells games".
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Knocking on people's doors will have them comment on your "costume", even if you're playing as ToeJam, who doesn't look even remotely human.

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove provides examples of:

  • Ability Mixing: Present synergy was added in Version 1.6.1, which let you combine present powers for added abilities and sometimes entirely new ones, like Funkzilla making you grow gigantic.
  • Achievement Mockery: Several Trophies/Achievements are given for... less-than-stellar "accomplishments", like sending a player an identified bad present (Truly Evil), getting tricked into taking an Evil Elevator twice in one game (Fool Me Twice), having 10 broken presents explode on you (Why Do I Keep Doing That?), using a Total Bummer twice in one game (Totally Bummed Again), failing at the Hyper Funk Zone by touching the very first exit (HFZ Goober), and getting a Game Over before the third level (I Can't Believe I've Done This).
  • Amplifier Artifact: The "Amp Present" and "Amp 5" presents can be used to amp other presents, making them more powerful, such as amped food which has double the effect of regular food and doesn't have a chance of being rotten.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • To balance out the fact that there's a lot more going on, Back in the Groove has far more beneficial Earthlings than the original game.
    • Some presents were changed up to be less damaging. For instance "Tomato Rain" hurt all characters originally. Now it doesn't hurt players at all (although it does also hurt friendly Earthlings).
    • When creating your own beat in the Dance Party minigame, if your timing is slightly off then the game will auto correct to the nearest beat for you.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Played for laughs; apparently a planet getting sucked into a black hole will cause it to be rolled around in a giant washing machine and spat out in the same place as 25 levels of random landmass stacked one above another.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Funkzilla synergy makes you huge, knocking away anything that gets in your way.
  • Betting Mini Game: You can roll a 20-sider with the Roleplayers for $1, winning $1 to $5 back if you roll high enough, and $8 if you roll a 20.
  • Blackout Basement: Some levels are dark, making it especially hard to see transparent enemies like Boogie Men and Ghost Cows from a distance. The Torch, Flash Light, and Light Switch presents exist to help with these.
  • Captain Oblivious: One type of earthling is a person walking around texting on their phone without watching where they're going and bumping into players for damage. Amusingly, they're actually one of the most tenacious enemies to be found in earlier levels.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The Little Girl goes around wanting to "play" with the aliens, delivering silly karate kicks and crying that the aliens are being mean to her whether they are or not. Pay attention though, because those silly karate kicks do more damage than any other move in the game if they connect.
  • Easter Egg: Hovering over the backer named "ToeJam and Earl" in the credits makes the 1991 promo rap play.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: The Easy Farty mode makes the game easier but also gives your character gas.
  • Excuse Plot: ToeJam and Earl went for a joyride to impress Lewanda and "borrowed" Lamont's ship, and now have to find the rocket ship pieces to get home. Subverted with the secret dialogue, which reveals ToeJam stole the ship to take pictures of Earth and its inhabitants to help Latisha's ill younger sister Janeese.
  • Fan Dumb: The Rabid Fan Boy is an In-Universe one. It pesters the aliens and does damage like most enemies do.
  • Fartillery: The Gassy Tummy effect gives you gas, which makes Earthlings stay away from you every time it's... deployed.
  • Friendly Fireproof: In the original game, Tomato Rain hurt both Earthlings and players, but in "Back in the Groove" it only hurts Earthlings.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Players can slap other players to snap them out of Cupid's effect.
  • Harder Than Hard: Extreme Mode isn't kidding around—your breath is twice as short, enemies have a much wider aggro range, you can get bad presents on any level, there's no chance of helpful earthlings giving free stuff, and the hole to level 0 has been filled.
  • Hologram: The non-playable Funkotronians show up on Earth through these to present a variation of the Rhythm Game from Panic on Funkotron.
  • Karma Houdini: Provided you can get through the game, the protagonists suffer no consequences for sucking Earth into a black hole.
  • Megamix Game: Features nearly everything from the first game, many elements from the second including the Hyperfunk Zone, most of the characters throughout the entire series, and some new stuff.
  • Mini-Game: Besides the Betting Mini Game, there's the Hyperfunk Zone and the Rhythm Game.
  • Multiple Endings: Besides the normal ending, there's a secret co-op ending and dialogue that only unlocks when you play and beat the game as ToeJam and Earl together.
  • Mythology Gag: While riding the elevator, your character can wonder, "Where are the bees?" Bees were a common enemy in the original game, but have been removed from the sequel.
  • Nostalgia Level: Level 1 is a carbon copy of the same level from the original game, though they moved the hole that leads to Level 0.
  • Official Couple: Sharla reveals she and Bloona are a couple in the ending if talked to repeatedly.
  • One-Hit Kill: Besides the Total Bummer returning from the first game, amped tomato presents cause the tomatoes to glitter and pop earthlings in one hit.
  • Promoted to Playable: Lewanda and Peabo from Panic on Funkotron are playable characters, as is Earl's Mom Flo, who appeared at the end of the first game.
  • Random Transportation: Doorway and Timed Teleport presents.
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: When Geekjam reads a School Book, instead of falling asleep like the other characters he gains a random stat.
  • Retcon: In the original game, the Rapmaster Rocketship belonged to Toejam and Earl themselves. In Back in the Groove, however, it's Lamont's ship, and the player characters took it for a joyride.
  • Revisiting the Roots: The gameplay is largely a return to the style seen in the first game, though several elements from the sequels are thrown in for good measure.
  • RPG Elements: Each character has six varying statsnote  that can be increased with each level. The main difference between characters (and even reskins) is the starting value of these stats.
  • Sequel Hook: The credits have "The End" with a question mark, and secret dialogue implies ToeJam will continue to search for his missing parents.
  • Socialization Bonus: Playing in co-op can make several pieces of unique dialogue appear, with different characters having different conversations. Using ToeJam and Earl together lets you access the truth behind the story and an extended ending.
  • Taking You with Me: An Amped Total Bummer kills you... in a massive fiery explosion that roasts everything around you.
  • Troll: One of the new enemy types who shoot insults at you. If you get too close they turn into teenagers with no pants on and run away in terror.
  • Underground Monkey: Some enemies on higher levels, such as a recolor of the ice cream truck that drops cabbages and does even more damage.
  • Unlockable Content: Some of the playable characters, presents, and power hats need to be unlocked by winning games or performing other feats.
  • Walking Spoiler: Latisha's younger sister Janeese is only seen and mentioned in co-op games under specific circumstances.


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