ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron

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ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron is a platform video game, developed by Johnson Voorsanger Productions and published by Sega in 1993 for the Mega Drive. The game is the sequel to cult video game ToeJam & Earl, released in 1991. The game concerns two alien protagonists, ToeJam and Earl, both of whom have escaped from Earth, where they had crash landed. After returning to their home planet of Funkotron, the duo discover a number of antagonistic Earthlings have stowed away on the spacecraft and are wreaking havoc across the planet. The player must hunt down these Earthlings and imprison them in jars before sending them back to Earth.

The game's platform format was a departure from the original ToeJam & Earl, a treasure hunt game with randomly generated levels, inspired by the game Rogue. Creators Greg Johnson and Mark Voorsanger originally began designing a game built on the concepts of the original, but changed to a more generic type of game due to a lack of support for their vision on the part of Sega. The game was critically well received, with reviewers praising the graphics, soundtrack, fluid action and two-player mode. It was also a commercial success, but fans of ToeJam & Earl were disappointed and confused by the radical change in direction.

he plot of the game follows on from that of its predecessor, which followed the adventures of alien protagonists ToeJam and Earl after they crash landed on Earth. After escaping to their home planet of Funkotron, the characters discover that antagonistic Earthlings have stowed-away on the duo's spacecraft. A sub-plot involves ToeJam and Earl's attempt to lure Lamont the Funkapotamus back from the Funk Dimension, where he is hiding from the invading Earthlings. ToeJam, a "three-legged red alien", wears a gold medallion and backwards baseball cap while Earl, a "fat orange alien", dresses in high-tops and oversized sunglasses, both outfits being "over-the-top appropriation" of 1990s urban culture.

ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron is a side-scrolling platform game, in which ToeJam and Earl must hunt down Earthling antagonists, which include a "pneumatic-drill-crazed construction worker, a camera-wielding tourist, our old friends the bogymen [sic], pea-shooter armed kids and a rather rotund woman with ankle-snapping poodles." Capturing Earthlings involves rummaging for them in bushes and trees, before pelting the antagonist with "jars" which imprison them. The player completes a level by catching all the at large Earthlings and sending them back to Earth via spacecraft. There are ten secret objects to be found, belonging to Lamont the Funkopotamus, "the source of all funk in the universe".

The player can use points, earned by capturing Earthlings, to buy power-ups such as the "Funk Scan" or "Funk Move". The former is a "radar view", which "applies a warped, colorful filter over the screen, revealing hidden power ups". The "Funk Move" allows the protagonists to teleport, thus dodging enemies or passing through walls. Bonus minigames can also be found throughout the game. "Jam Out" involves repetition of a rhythm in an effort to score points. The "Hyper Funk Zone" sees the characters propelled forward in search of bonus points, while "Fungus Olympics" is "not unlike synchronized swimming".

The game is the sequel to ToeJam & Earl, a treasure hunt game inspired by computer game Rogue and featuring randomly generated levels. After the success of the original game, Johnson Voorsanger Productions began work on a sequel in 1992. The developer spent three to four months building on the original mechanics, adding elements such as indoor areas and additional terrain types, though the randomly generated levels were removed. The plot of this prototype would see ToeJam and Earl "return to Earth to stage a rap concert, only to find they've lost their CDs" which would form the basis of the game's treasure hunt. According to the Johnson and Voorsanger, the game would feature "more default items" for the characters to "use all the time", new items and characters, and more detail and secret areas allowed by the fixed (rather than randomly generated) levels. The game employed a larger development team than the first installment and was originally projected for a Christmas 1992 release, and titled ToeJam & Earl 2. Sega however conferred that they did not "understand" the game and though the "decision was still ultimately with Johnson and Voorsanger", the developer started work on a more generic side-scrolling platform game, a concept to which Sega had been more receptive. The increased size of the game's cartridge over the original allowed for greater graphical detail. The soundtrack, including the original theme, was remixed and given a more layered quality.

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Platform: 
SEGA Genesis
Genre: 
Action
Game year: 
1993
Publisher: 
SEGA of America, Inc.
Developed by: 
ToeJam & Earl Productions, Inc.
ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron  - Cover Art Sega Genesis
Also known as: 
"ToeJam & Earl in Panik auf Funkotron" -- German title
"ToeJam and Earl 2" -- alternate title
"TJ&E:2" -- informal name

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