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ToeJam & Earl: What Did the Critics Say in 1991?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 02, 2014   |   Episode 37 (Show Archive)  


ToeJam & Earl (Sega Genesis)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

ToeJam & Earl is the perfect example of why many love Sega. This funky action game doesn't play by the usual conventions and isn't afraid to take a few chances. Since its release, this 23 year old Genesis cartridge managed to win over a loyal cult following and lead to two very different sequels. But what did critics think of this Sega classic back in 1991? We turn to Electronic Gaming Monthly, Sega Force, Sega Pro, Mega Play, Mean Machines and other classic magazines for the answer.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

ToeJam & Earl
[ Company: Sega | Console: Genesis ]

94% out of 100%

"Make no mistake about it, ToeJam & Earl is a very weird game. The graphics are bright and vibrant, with the ice cool duo strutting their funky stuff in the most rib-tickling escapades since DR and Quinch (my heroes) hit Earth. It took me several plays to even grasp the basics, but since then I've been firmly hooked. A totally awesome experience; buy it this instant." -Mark Caswell

93% out of 100%

"With more than 20 levels, each having to be fully navigated before moving on, the game is fast-paced, decidedly silly fun. And remember, it ain't over till the Fat Lady sings. In this case she'll do it for $3, and clear away all the Earthlings onscreen. Just don't stand too close to her when she does because she's loud, man." -Marshal M. Rosenthal

MEGA PLAY (September 1991)
9 out of 10

"This is one of the most innovative and most entertaining carts that I've seen in a long time. Great music and fantastic game play that leaves you laughing long after the game is over." -Mike

87% out of 100%

"A completely bizarre one or simultaneous two-player arcade adventure that's absolutely jam-packed with humorous touches -- both visual and aural. The game is very laid back, and the emphasis is on exploration rather than rushing about. Thoroughly enjoyable, thoroughly weird and thoroughly worth checking out."

8 out of 10

"Master rapin' [sic] ToeJam and his big homey, Earl, are really one truly intense duo dealing with spoofs, one liners, and and [sic] entire cast of silly characters (the boogie man being my favorite). Extremely long with some hilarious 16-bit add-ins highlight this truly funky and bodacious cart." -Ed

(The Essential Sega Guide)
89% out of 100%

"Toe Jam and Earl is a hilarious adventure. From the cartoon-style opening sequence to the in-game banter between the two characters, the emphasis is definitely on comedy. This would mean nothing if the gameplay wasn't up to scratch but it is. The going is a little slow for the first couple levels, but once you get into the swing of it, it's great. If you're after fun in a Megadrive cartridge, Toe Jam is the one." -Rich

MEGA PLAY (September 1991)
7 out of 10

"There's no doubt that TJ&E has some of the best graphics and sounds you'll get on the Genesis, but there's a slight problem -- the game. It's fun, but there's not as much depth as I would have liked." -Dave

6 out of 10

Toe Jam and Earl is more of a testament to what the Genesis can do than a real game. The basis for the action, the duo's need to locate all the pieces of their ship, is really a window in which Sega throws some of the best graphics, sounds and music you'll ever see. Wears thin fast." -Steve
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 77% - Critics were decidedly mixed when it came to ToeJam & Earl. While European critics from Sega Force and Sega Pro embraced the game's weirdness, American writers from Electronic Gaming Monthly and Mega Play were not as impressed. If nothing else, most critics appreciated the game's originality and sense of humor. MegaTech also appreciated the two-player gameplay, which adds a lot to this laidback adventure.

On the negative side, Steve Harris complained that the novelty gets old quickly. Dave at Mega Play echoed this sentiment, wishing the action had more depth. Curiously, there is one thing everybody agrees with: ToeJam & Earl is a great looking 16-bit game. Even the lowest scores raved about the graphics.

THE SINGLE WORST TYPO EVER: "Master rapin' ToeJam and his big homey, Earl."

ON FRIDAY'S EPISODE: Next Monday brings us a week of Mortal Kombat. We start out on Monday with a look at the original Mortal Kombat on the Super NES. We follow that up with a look at the Genesis version on Wednesday. You'll never guess which one comes out on top. On second thought, you probably will guess, but tune in anyway.

Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!



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