A member of the Assembler Games forums got quite a surprise when he recently purchased a SEGA Dreamcast development kit and started digging around.
“When connected to the PC, I saw the game files for ToeJam & Earl 3,” he wrote. “A few hours later, I got it to boot, and it’s an actual working build of ToeJam & Earl 3 for the Dreamcast!”
As you may know, ToeJam & Earl 3: Mission to Earth was never released on the Dreamcast, instead being released on the Xbox on Oct. 22, 2002. However, we do know the game had been planned to be released on the Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation and the Dreamcast.
In 2006, series creator Greg Johnson told the story to Gamasutra.
Johnson notes that the game was originally intended to be “a very pure re-make of game one” with “all the same stuff but just better graphics,” but the idea was vetoed by Visual Concepts who “felt that it was too old school and that there weren’t enough ToeJam & Earl fans out there to justify it.”
The duo’s plans were interrupted once more by Sega’s announcement in early 2001 that they would be dropping support for the Dreamcast, forcing a re-think of platform choice. “It was tough when we needed to switch over from the Dreamcast to the Xbox,” recalled Johnson. “It was a big decision – I wanted to go to PS2 or GameCube first, but there were lots of technical reasons to do Xbox first. It’s a much easier platform to develop for, and always easier to go down then up when porting. Also Microsoft wanted to expand their demographic so they offered Sega marketing lots of free TV advertising. Tough to pass up.
“In retrospect, it’s clear that Xbox first was a very poor choice,” he said. “We did get lots of great response and great reviews, but we also got slammed as well by people who felt like we had once again strayed too far from their expectations.
“I’ll always feel like ToeJam & Earl 3 didn’t really get a fair shake,” he continued. “If I could do things differently, I would stick to my guns and refuse to budge, but in the moment, that can sure make you look like a stubborn primadonna to everyone else. VC did what they thought was right, and I’ll never know if it would have sold better if we had done things my way. When you’re a developer, you can’t always do what you want. Best not to live with regret though, eh?”
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen ToeJam & Earl 3 on the Dreamcast. There are several videos on YouTube showing the game in action. It’s a shame the Dreamcast lost so many great titles due to its short lifespan. Sigh. :'([Thanks for the tip, Big Dipper Art!