This week on the Kickstarter Spotlight, we’ll begin with a brief word of apology. Things got a bit out of hand last week, and frankly, the Kickstarter Spotlight suffered for it. So this week we’re rollin’ it back. Way back. The 90’s are back, baby! Let’s get started with HumaNature Studios’ Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove.
What’s Old is New Again
The Console Wars of the 1990’s informed the tastes of an entire generation of gamers. The showdown between the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Mario and Sonic, and the fight for market share occurred on a macro scale for years. Those who bought in early on the Genesis might remember two characters that helped define the early days of the Genesis: Toejam and Earl, the two aliens from Funkotron that brought with them a sense of funk, early 90’s hip-hop, and a downright crazy title to console gamers in a time where there wasn’t anything quite this unique in the medium. It was brash, funky, and full of surprises. Sadly, subsequent sequels lost sight of the beating heart of what made the original “click” with what the public at large wanted at the time. Greg Johnson (one of the original creators of the series) and HumaNature Studios (makers of Doki Doki Universe) want to change that.
Look familiar? It should. The same top-down terrain is present from the first game, the thoroughly odd style and overall direction of the game harken back to the original in ways that feel a bit like comfort food. The original game is definitely a product of its time with dated 90’s idioms, gameplay that can be a bit slow at times, and overall direction that is all over the place. ToeJam & Earl became a cult hit because it was wholly unique. It is rogue-like meets adventure game with other elements thrown into the mix. It has always been hard to classify. It was never the runaway success of other MegaDrive/Genesis games either, yet it has been considered an essential title of that era for decades now. One could argue that the formula hasn’t aged well. It was a strange concoction to begin with. It is a game that plays far better with a friend (Back in the Groove will support 4-player co-op along with online play as well). The cartoonish absurdity of its funk and hip-hop roots are garish yet so darned catchy. Why has it remained such a fan favorite for so long? There are many answers, but Greg Johnson and his team are hoping that the world is ready for a true sequel to the game that so many loved.
The Hottest Jamz Straight From Funkotron
The aesthetic of Back in the Groove is helmed by indie artist Nathan Shorts, and it channels the quintessential 90’s comic vibe with aplomb. The various Earthlings from prior series entries are all present with some new foes joining the mix. The same stacked levels of the first game are back in force, the same RNG element of the presents is in full swing and, more importantly, the funk is being brought. Elements of both the first and second game will be mixed together to hopefully present the “true to feel” sequel that fans of the retro duo have always clamored for.
The team is focusing on making a release on PC/Mac/Linux for now, but if things gain traction one would have to imagine console releases aren’t too far behind. Backer rewards include copies of the game, name in the credits, and swag including t-shirts, hoodies, keychains, posters and the like along with higher tier rewards like a special invite to a board game party with the development team and a few other industry friends like Tim Schafer, Will Wright, and more. The project, with five days left to go, is near its funding goal of $400,000.
For those interested in checking out more details regarding ToeJam and Earl: Back in the Groove visit Humanature Studios’ Kickstarter page.
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