It's the time of the year when the days get shorter, retailers stay open longer, big games are released and there seems to be a holiday every other week. Defunct Games wants to ring in this festive season with a look at the most memorable video game themes of all time. For five weeks straight, Cyril Lachel and Kevin Bailey will share their thoughts on themes from the last thirty years. Join us every day between November 22 and December 25 for The 34 Game Themes of Christmas!
Toe Jam & Earl
[ Company: Sega | Year: 1992 | Console: Genesis ]
Even if their games didn't always connect, you have to hand it to Sega for not being afraid to try out new ideas. Toe Jam & Earl is a weird mix of science fiction comedy and funky hip hop. You and a friend roam around large sections of Earth in an attempt to locate spaceship pieces in order to rebuild their broken craft. But what am I doing setting it up? Just watch this intro and you'll see what's going on ...
For a couple of hip hop fans, Toe Jam & Earl sure know how to get funky. Although limited by the Genesis' archaic hardware, this three minute jam fits in perfectly with some of the funkiest TV show themes of all time. I'm talking about The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Seinfeld and so many other bass-heavy sitcom themes. In that sense I can't help but love Toe Jam & Earl. This is a laidback theme, the type of song you subconsciously nod along to. And while it's simple in structure, I can listen to it repeatedly without it becoming repetitive. Even the animation that accompanies it is hilarious, especially when the two realize they're about to crash. It's hard to find fault in a theme (and a game) that is this endearing.
A pair of highly funky aliens should, no doubt, have a highly funky theme song. Toe Jam and Earl don't disappoint, as their theme song is structured to resemble an old funk song. The song doesn't have much in the form of changes, just sort of meandering back and forth between its two fun, funky parts. There is one exception to this, though: Earl gets a chance to show off his hip hop beat mixing skills. This is the one part of this theme I dislike. Earl cuts the main theme off in the middle of a measure to start his part, effectively breaking the rhythm. When Earl is done, the main theme kicks back in on beat, but why would they cut off the song the way they do initially? It's quite jarring. Overall though, this is a pretty good theme.
It's a ninja game, but it's not Ninja Gaiden. It's also not Shinobi. Or Tenchu. It's not Shadow of the Ninja, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kid Niki: Radical Ninja or Afro Samurai. It's another ninja game.