ToeJam & Earl: Panic on Funkotron (Switch): COMPLETED!

I never got on with this previously. I think the main issue was that it didn’t feel like a proper sequel to the original ToeJam and Earl, which was one of my favourite Mega Drive games. It had the same funk, but it was a totally different experience.

Ditching the roguelike trappings of the first game, which was set on Earth (sort of), Panic on Funkotron instead became a platformer set on ToeJam & Earl’s home planet. The Mega Drive was swamped with platformers, so that didn’t help it stand out. Many times over the years I’ve tried to play through this and given up before the end of the first level because it just wasn’t what I wanted to play. But this time, something clicked.

One of the new baddies is a ghost cow who possesses you. Because of course it is.

The main gameplay is to explore levels finding earthlings to throw jars at. Jar them enough and you can capture them. Capture them all, and you can move on to the next level. Often these earthlings are hidden in trees and bushes, as are presents and traps. Presents don’t work like they used to, giving you random points, coins (for parking meters that trigger secrets), funk (for special moves) and a few powerups and special attacks (like one-hit jar captures).

This bonus game pops up frequently. It’s pretty hard and mostly pointless.

So it’s different. Some things are the same, like the characters, general graphical style and of course the music, but it plays out totally different. In the original, combat was rare and earthlings were generally just avoided. Here, you need to take the fight to them, and there’s some skill involved for taking out each type. It’s also quite a lot easier, so long as you take your time and don’t rush into areas in case of hidden baddies. Panic on Funkotron is also much, much longer – so it’s a good job there’s a password system in place. Of course, on the Switch version you can just use save states, but it took me six or seven hours to complete the game. Some of the levels are huge and the earthlings well hidden!

Alright old man.

It’s a shame I never got on with this originally. Maybe if I’d never played the first game I wouldn’t have had the problem with this being different. It’s still not as good as the first game (but to be fair, very few games are), but it’s much better than I ever previously gave it credit for.

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ToeJam and Earl (MD): COMPLETED!

I have completed ToeJam and Earl before, many times, with the last time almost a decade ago on the Wii’s Virtual Console. This time, it was on RetroPie. I think this may be the only time I’ve completed it on Random World though – I normally rely upon knowing exactly where certain presents are in order to know what’s in them.

ToeJam and Earl
Do not adjust your set.

I played through as ToeJam, obviously, because he is best. I didn’t have many problems until I got to around level 18 or so and then lost three lives in very quick succession to the Bogeyman. Thankfully, I found a life in a present and gained another for a promotion, and that saw me through until the end. In fact, I used very few presents overall at all – mainly through constant fear I’d get a Total Bummer or the randomiser.

ToeJam and Earl
Ice cream! Ice cream!

ToeJam and Earl is certainly one of the most memorable Mega Drive games, and it hasn’t aged a bit. I wonder how the Kickstartered new version is getting on? I hope it turns out more like this original version than the sequel or Xbox one.

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