ToeJam and Earl – Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?

Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?” Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:

Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.

Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.

Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.

Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.

This week, we’re looking at a franchise that died in 2002 after the third and final entry in the series hit the original Xbox. Despite the second and third games in the series receiving mixed opinions on the overall quality, the first game in the series is so beloved that older gamers still clamour for Sega to do something with the franchise. Alas, neither of the titular characters has even so much as appeared in a Sega All-Stars game. This is a bit sad considering the original game for the Sega Genesis is often labeled as one of the best games ever released for that system, as well for the entire 16-Bit era. Let’s see what three of our staffers feel should be done with ToeJam and Earl

ToeJam and Earl

Jon Widro – Sequel

I’m biased, but all three ToeJam and Earl games are dear to me; even the bastard second game. The third game, released on Xbox but clearly intended as a Dreamcast flagship, ended up flying under the radar, and ever since the duo has been in gaming purgatory. Even now, the pair is reportedly not included in the Sega All-Stars Racing game due to disputes over royalties, so their continued participation in Sega lore even is in doubt. My vote would be a sequel that stays in the top down style of the first and third games, and offers a level creator. Imagine a Little Big Planet style community of TJ&E content creators! I hope Sega and the creators can work out their issues and get the pair back into the spotlight.

Mark B. – Sequel

ToeJam and Earl is a franchise I love quite a bit, even if Sega doesn’t anymore. The original game was this bizarre Rogue-like game for people who don’t like Rogue-like games, and it was one of the first games to really sell me on the genre. The first game was often unmercifully difficult, but its presentation and artistic style were more than enough to keep me coming back until I eventually beat the game. The Genesis sequel, was a completely different experience, but it was also quite a lot of fun for what it was – just not as interesting as the first game. I didn’t play the third game, to be honest, so I have no opinion of it one way or the other, but that isn’t really relevant to my opinion of the series as a whole. Devil May Cry 2 was atrocious, after all, and I still like the series fine.

Calling the ToeJam and Earl games “bizarre” would be an understatement, but that’s part of the charm of the series, and that could really work in the favor of the franchise at this point. The series has a “hook” in its bizarre concepts and elements, and as Katamari Damacy has shown, being weird can be a good thing if you have the gameplay to back up the weirdness. Further, the Rogue-like has been making a comeback in the past few years, which could really help ToeJam and Earl if the franchise went back to its roots. Making the game into Shiren the Wanderer is probably a horrible idea (but I’d totally buy it), but as the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games have shown, you don’t HAVE to break it off in the player to make a Rogue-like good. Making a modern version of the original ToeJam and Earl would be fairly easy, and releasing it on a system like the Wii or the DS would more than likely draw a good amount of interest and sales. I’d buy it, anyway.

Michael O’Reilly -Stay Dead

Alright, the original TJ&E was an amusing game. Quirky probably describes it best, for me. The sequel wasn’t nearly as interesting, and by the time the third version hit the Xbox, it felt like the game should have stayed in our memories. So even thinking about reviving the series yet again strikes me as a bad idea. Sega should be spending their money on projects which will bring their name back to prominence, not games which will do nothing but sit in Gamestop’s bargain bin. Let ToeJam and Earl enjoy their retirement on Funkotron.

End Result:

Sequel: 2
Stay Dead: 1
Spin-Off: 0
Start Over: 0

Well, there are two things that are quite telling about this piece Only a fraction of our staff have even played the ToeJam and Earl games, and that much like the second and third games in the franchise, people either seem to love or hate this tandem.

Next week we won’t be looking at a franchise, but a single game put out by Sony Computer Entertainment back in the middle of 2000. Although critics didn’t care for it, gamers seemed to love it, with people still clamoring for a sequel a decade late. We’ll see you then.



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2 responses to “ToeJam and Earl – Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?”

  1. Michael O'Mahony Avatar
    Michael O’Mahony

    The original TJ&E is one of my all-time favorite games. I’d love to see these two make a comeback in something similarly esoteric.

  2. Random Avatar

    Sequel! Definitely. Or at the very least, put the old games on XBLA.

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