ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron Review

ToeJam & Earl II captures none of the flavor that made the original game so dope.

Panic on Funkotron is the second game in the ToeJam & Earl series. It takes the lovely top-down exploration of the original game and attempts to turn it on its side, making a puzzling platformer out of the proceedings. It was a disappointing sequel when it was originally released, and here on the Wii, it's even more forgettable.

It's a real bummer that the sequels couldn't live up to the original ToeJam & Earl, which is a real masterpiece.
It's a real bummer that the sequels couldn't live up to the original ToeJam & Earl, which is a real masterpiece.

Having rebuilt their ship and escaped from Earth in the first game, the teenage alien duo of ToeJam & Earl has returned to its home planet, Funkotron, where the funk flows freely. But there's a disturbance in that funk because a bunch of pesky Earthlings have glommed on to the fleeing spaceship, and now they're running rampant all over the aliens' homeworld. Sensing that this is a problem they created, the three-legged ToeJam and his rotund homie Earl set out to catch all these Earth-dwelling suckers and, eventually, restore the funk to its proper…uh…funkness. Funkiness? Whatever. The story takes up the first few seconds of the game, and from there, you're off on an adventure.

Your primary goal is to catch Earthlings who like to hide all over the place. You're armed with a helpful arrow that points you in the general direction of the closest enemy, but once you get close, you'll have to start shaking the bushes and trees to knock them loose. Once you've got an enemy out in the open, you need to toss jars at them to catch them. Once all Earthlings are collected, you need to get to the rocket ship at the end of the level, where you ship those fools back to Earth. While the game has the simple look of a side-scrolling platformer, it's a little more open-ended than it initially seems. You need to catch them all, and if needed, you can backtrack. Some of the game requires you to puzzle out exactly how to get up to specific platforms where Earthlings are hiding. However, these puzzles are logic-free and often annoying. In some cases, you just have to hop around or use a hidden item-finding "funk scan" and hope that an invisible platform reveals itself. This was a bad idea back when it was first released and feels even more stupid now. Like the previous game, you can choose to play as ToeJam or Earl, and in two-player games both players play at the same time.

The only thing TJ&E II has going for it is a unique look. For their time, the character sprites are big, detailed, and well-animated. There are plenty of uses of parallax scrolling, which makes the environments look nice. There is also a healthy mix of sampled audio for little yelps and shouts from you or your enemies, which makes it all feel a bit more alive.

But in the end, Panic on Funkotron isn't much fun. It's got some length to it, but sorting out the Earthlings and restoring the funk gets tedious long before the game concludes, whether you're playing alone or with a friend. This Wii emulation may be accurate, but that still doesn't make it worth $8.

The Good
Big, colorful characters and environments
decent sound
The Bad
Level design requires too much random chance
poor when compared to the original game
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About the Author

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron More Info

  • First Released 1993
    • Genesis
    • Linux
    • + 3 more
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    Average Rating323 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    ToeJam & Earl Productions, Sega, M2
    Published by:
    Sega, Samsung, Nintendo
    Action, 2D, Platformer
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.