One of the recent trends in gaming is giving players the chance to revisit a number of classic gaming haunts - for example, we’ve had the remastered releases of Bionic Commando, Gauntlet and DuckTales over the last few years. Some of these remastered versions have been met with huge acclaim – the recent release of Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! wowed players and critics alike with its complete reworking of Abe’s Odyssee.
There’s the possibility of more to come, as well. Microsoft has trademarked Battletoads, suggesting a revamp of the notoriously difficult NES brawler. Meanwhile, we have recently had the chance to look at one of the less fortunate attempts at relaunching a beloved franchise. Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun may have been cancelled, but fans were still able to see half an hour of gameplay footage this week.
Now, it looks like another cult 90s franchise could be set for a reboot. Greg Johnson, the original designer of totally radical alien duo ToeJam & Earl, has revealed that he is working on a brand new game in the franchise. Johnson and his studio Humanature have announced that they are currently developing ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove.
The small development team has taken to Kickstarter to help fund the project, and is looking for $400,000 to help successfully develop the title. The team, which does not include ToeJam & Earl co-owner Mark Voorsanger, is looking to release the game entirely through self-funded efforts to avoid publisher interference. As Johnson puts it, “we can build the game we want to make.” The game will not have any exclusivity, although the team are prioritizing PC, Mac and Linux before console ports.
It would be a surprise if ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove didn’t reach that $400,000 target, and a look at the Kickstarter page shows over $100,000 already pledged. The series is fondly remembered and still has an army of fans. The original ToeJam & Earl was released for the Sega Genesis in 1991, before being followed up by ToeJam & Earl: Panic in Funkotron in 1993. Nine years later, ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth was released for the original Xbox, but was not as successful as its earlier counterparts.
So far, ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove looks closest to the original title, with a fixed isometric viewpoint, co-op gameplay and vertically layered gameworld. It remains to be seen whether there will be as much influence from the other two games. There is also yet to be any news on a release date for the title.
Johnson has refused to commit to a date, instead stating that the priority is to make the best game the team possibly can, and that Back in the Groove will not be released “until it is ready.” Given that the developer’s resources could vary depending on how much funding they receive, this could be an astute choice over picking an arbitrary release date.