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Game music of the day: Toejam & Earl

Game: Toejam & Earl

Song: Funkotronic Beat

Composer: John Baker

       
Above: Funkotronic Beat from Toejam & Earl

Behold, ladies and gentlemen, how daring games used to be. Do you think a game about two "highly funky aliens from outer space," dressed in shades, designer sneakers and personalized gold chains would fly today? I certainly don't. But in those early Genesis days when Sega needed a hit to chew away at Nintendo's sizable lead, they'd give anything a shot - and what we got was a clever dystopian view of humanity, as seen through the eyes of street-talkin' aliens, plus an extremely impressive and inspired jazz/hip hop soundtrack.

The game itself had you and a friend searching randomly generated levels for pieces of your shattered spaceship. Along the way you'd run into unfriendly humans who, looking back now, were all mirrors reflecting our society back in our faces. They're all psychotic, aggressive maniacs who guard hordes of presents - not that they want or need those possessions, they just don't want anyone else to have them. It's a surprisingly high concept, one that's covered in great detail here. Oh right, the music... well it's funky as hell, man. I named it as a soundtrack ahead of its time, and still stand by it.


Above: Alien Break Down, like the rest of the content the game pokes fun at, is firmly entrenched in the early '90s


Above: Toejam Jammin is the game's theme song and one of the catchiest ditties you'll ever find on Genesis. Love that breakdown!


Above: A Toejam/Ludacris "jam up" from SlamminWolfgang

There's a brilliance here that was never recaptured in the Genesis sequel, nor the nine-years-later Xbox follow-up. The latter wasn't met with particularly high reviews or sales, with most critics citing the humor and gratuitous urban references as dated and unfunny. I never played TJ&E III so I can't say, but I know the original game, despite having heroes in stereotypical "street" attire, never came off as misguided or an attempt to curry favor with a certain audience.

Sega, you're sitting on a gold mine of lost franchises. Gimme Shinobi, gimme a new TJ&E and find a way to make Streets of Rage relevant again. Or publish another ho-hum Marvel game, whatever.

 

Game music of the day: Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Dracula's Tears and Yamane and Kimura

 

 

Game music of the day: Journey to Silius
Level 2 by Nobuyuki, Marumo, N. Kodaka, About SS and MaboChan

 

 

Game music of the day: Twisted Metal 2
Los Angeles theme by Sandra Geary and Scott Turner

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16 comments

  • EAC73 - October 9, 2010 3:36 p.m.

    still love this game also cant forget about going to level 0 in the game it was the best
  • RedOutlive10 - October 9, 2010 2:37 a.m.

    Toejam & Earl had so many awesome tunes, and the game was quite unique Bring them back somebody!
  • philipshaw - October 8, 2010 3:23 p.m.

    I loved this game and soundtrack, the funk bass lines were and still are amazing. Like you said Brett, they need to bring out a new one that is better than the Xbox game
  • NeelEvil - October 8, 2010 11:37 a.m.

    @ CARDYKEV, nah, the mixing is selected from the main screen. Still can't complete this game even with the Virtual Console save thing. I've lost count of the times I've gotten really far then used the rocket boots & gone flying off the edge to drop down 10 levels in a row.
  • CARDYKEV - October 8, 2010 11:17 a.m.

    Couldn't you mix when you were in the lift between levels? Spent many a faithful hour on rocket boots, getting electrocuted by thunder clouds and opening "bogus" presents.......
  • Aeshir - October 8, 2010 4:48 a.m.

    That Ludacris remix is fucking sweet.
  • toastile - October 8, 2010 3:05 a.m.

    Damn, that's some catchy shit right there.
  • TruckThunders - October 8, 2010 2:47 a.m.

    I was wondering when this was going to make Game Music of the Day. I've been meaning to make the main theme my ringtone. This article just might have jump-started that project. I would like to see this brought to XBLA, or even the Nintendo DS.
  • enlargedhousecats - October 8, 2010 2:23 a.m.

    still loving it
  • BoondockSaint54 - October 8, 2010 1:04 a.m.

    I loved Toejam and Earl. It was the only reason I bought a Genesis way back in the day.
  • CH3BURASHKA - October 7, 2010 11:41 p.m.

    I never had a chance to play it (never heard of it until about 2 years ago) but I've always been put off by the name. Something about the name "ToeJam and Earl" makes me gag a bit. Good track, though.
  • garnsr - October 7, 2010 11:37 p.m.

    Why isn't there any spam here yet? It's just not right only having actual comments in the comment section. I remember playing all the way through the first game, but I don't remember loving or hating it. Just one of those 16 bit games that I played, and didn't care much either way. I do have some nostalgia for the characters, though.
  • batmanboy11 - October 7, 2010 11:16 p.m.

    Awesome!
  • powerpc127 - October 7, 2010 10:57 p.m.

    I never really played the first one, but I played the second one to death and I'll never forget the main theme. It's so... funky (being funky in the 90's was a good thing). The second game also has some wonderful tracks if you're ever pressed for ideas.
  • Strangleme - October 7, 2010 10:54 p.m.

    SWEET!! Another awesome pick as usual!!!
  • 435 - October 7, 2010 10:45 p.m.

    ABOUT GODDAMN TIME. Ahem. Great choice, Mr. Elston! I heart TJ&E more than any human really should.

Showing 1-16 of 16 comments

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