A few months back, I got the opportunity to play ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove with series creator Greg Johnson. In a relaxed and comfortably humid showroom, the two of us sat side-by-side, guiding the titular heroes through this fragmented world as Johnson explained the ropes of the game to me. I grew up in a one-console household and the SNES was our hardware of choice. In fact, it was the choice of most of my friends. The only access we had to a Genesis was at the local Boys & Girls Club, and even then we only used it to enter Madden tournaments.
So as Johnson tried to get me into the game that day at PAX, I humored him even though I just did not understand the appeal. Why do I care? What is the point of this game? How is this some treasured franchise that needs to be brought back? When I left that hands-on session, everything about it -- outside of the look on Johnson’s face when he realized how many bugs his team had to deal with before launch -- simply dissipated from my mind.
Turns out, a weekend spent trying to cram as many games in as possible isn’t the best way to appreciate the brilliance of ToeJam & Earl. What I needed was a few days holed up in bed fighting a cold to see that Back in the Groove is all that and a bag of chips.