Retro Video Game Review: Toobin' (Nes)

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Overall Rating: 3/5

Toobin’ is one of the controversial Tengen games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, part of a franchise of titles that sought to usurp Nintendo’s overwhelming first-party development control over the NES. Along with such classics as Gauntlet and Tetris, they also released some lesser-known and lesser-developed choices.

One of these selections was the quirky adventure called Toobin’, an intentionally misspelled quest of a California dude on his inner tub just tubin’ down the rivers of the world, tossing pop cans at enemies and items to beat levels and make it to the next waterway.


Play follows as an automatic scroller, as you travel downward with the current, yet maneuver pretty nimbly in every direction. The game actually does a fun job of making the water easy on friction as your character flails his limbs about to steer, and certain portions show obvious changes in flow. The pop can ammo is limited, thus adding a bit of strategy to your aiming, rather than mindlessly chucking the ammo at everything that moves.

Although the game is just a level-by-level beatdown, it does have warp whirlpools, and the highlight is the imaginative stages: The Amazon is just the beginning, as you soon find yourself in the Arctic, on a prehistoric river, and even in the distant, technological future…


At certain points, the pixelated elements are laughable (wait until you see the dinosaur atrocity that awaits you). Otherwise, though, whoever developed the game obviously gave a great effort to create a distinct feel for each river area, with distinctive ingredients to each. Sure, the penguins and pop cans are not sharp-lookin’, but the overall effect is there nonetheless.


This is one aspect in which Toobin’ shines brightly: The music for each level fits. For the western level, the beat is decidedly country. The high-tech futurist level has a techno dance track. Even the prehistoric level has a swampy, crude atmosphere. Perhaps best of all, though: The arctic river is eerily silent, except for the sound effects. They’re okay.

Creativity and Innovation

This game is so unique! Nothing else is quite like it: Not in their flow, their fighting style, their challenge level, their overall idea. Toobin’ is a weird, quirky, strange, bizarre, odd little game, that’s worth a look if you have never seen it before.

For its remarkable uniqueness, it earns three stars out of five, with its greatest flaw being that some levels are horridly hard and others are horribly easy, making for a gaming experience that is not as enjoyable as this adventure had the potential to be.

To gain a glimpse at other Tengen titles for the NES console (among other Nintendo Entertainment System games), check out


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