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Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove – PAX West 2016

Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove – PAX West 2016
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For those who are a bit older, there was a classic couch co-op game from our childhood that some of us remember well. Toejam and Earl was a game about RNG and trying to help two rad space dudes get their ship back and get off this mysterious island in space. It was filled with oddities and strange humans and creatures to attack you, but it had a charm that lasted throughout the years. Adult Swim Games decided to bring back this classic in an all new title respecting everything that made the original great. Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove was originally a kickstarter that got picked up by Adult Swim Games announced on August 24th. There were there in full effect at PAX West 2016.

The demo consisted of 5 floors as I worked my way around the map recognizing some familiar faces and some new enemies as well. The idea is exactly the same as the original, explore each floor and try to find pieces of your ship so that you can go home. There were 6 characters to choose from, each with different stats. It supports local co-op and online co-op up to 4 players. Presents and money are scattered around each of the floors and have different abilities or items that can either hurt you or help you. One of the funniest presents I managed to open instantly lit my entire body on fire and I immediately had to find water. There are new enemies and people to help you that you can encounter on each of the floors, and various new level types to run into as well.

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The regular levels are well lit up and filled with green grass as they float in space for no reason, but there are also levels covered in ice and snow, and levels that are in complete darkness that has different enemies. For the levels that were covered in darkness you carry around a flashlight and it is harder to see things in front of you. As I was climbing up the levels one of the most impressive things I spotted was that in the holes to fall into on my current floor I could see the level below me. It wasn’t just that level, but I could point out that it was exactly that part of the map of the level below me. If I had not uncovered that section of the map yet and large purple tile would obstruct my view to not let me see if anything important was below.

Another new feature were these mysterious doors that would appear. When I went inside of them I was on some trippy auto scroller where I don’t stop running. The level itself never changes, but gets harder as you turn into scribbles and try to dodge all the walls while collecting XP and health. If you can beat your previous furthest point you would be rewarded with more XP.

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Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove felt like the direct sequel of the original in every great way possible. If you were a fan of the first I have no doubt that you’ll be a fan of this new title too. For those that missed the boat first time around, this will give new players the most realistic sense of what it was like to play the original and should not be missed.