Earthworm Jim

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Earthworm Jim Review

One of the most beloved franchises born from the 16-bit era of gaming was an unexpected surprise. Going against conventional wisdom for what a platforming game should be, Earthworm Jim featured a talking worm in a supersuit traversing a universe of quirky and offbeat environments while taking down foes in spectacular fashion. We loved the game back on the Sega Genesis and SNES, and we’ll get right into why the Earthworm Jim still holds up 15 years since its debut.

The key to any platform game comes in its level design, and Earthworm Jim’s stuff still feels relevant even after all these years. You’ll see levels based in junkyards, fiery infernos, underwater tubes, and asteroid belts throughout the 16 stages in Earthworm Jim. The action puts an equal emphasis on shooting and platform mechanics to keep things varied, and the sequences set up in the later levels will test your coordination and patience.

This worm is going fishing.

On the point of patience, you’ll need it, as Earthworm Jim is a hard game. The platforming sequences, bad dudes, minibosses, and big bosses are designed to keep you on your toes. Sure, you can pick an easier difficulty level, but the profanity-inducing challenge is a part of the game’s charm.

Earthworm Jim controls fantastically. It uses a standard onscreen d-pad and buttons, and it’s more than adequate. Shooting off your blaster, jumping around, and using your worm whip are cake with those actions offset to the bottom right corner of the screen. That said, the shortcomings of not having a real physical d-pad come into play on some levels. For example, there’s one level where you have to quickly jump on a series of electrical orbs, and it’s way harder than it should be. Between traditional levels, there are a series of space race interludes that use tilt controls to maneuver your rocket. The sensitivity level felt good, but you can tweak it to suit your preferences.

Who you gonna call?

Of course, Earthworm Jim is a looker. The improved hand-drawn 2D art looks great, and it sparkles on the iPhone’s crisp screen. Jim and his enemies have many awesome animations, and there’s a fluidity that’s reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon. Complementing the visuals is an inspired score. Gameloft was kind enough to support custom soundtracks, but the richness of the farting noises and quips are simply too good to pass up.

Par for the course when if comes to Gameloft, Earthworm Jim is an example of a near-flawless translation to the iPhone. All content has been neatly stuffed in, and the iPhone-optimized considerations are superbly executed. Do yourself a favor and indulge in what’s arguably the most ‘groovy’ platform title out there.

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Earthworm Jim Hands-On and Video

We’ve played Earthworm Jim on the iPhone, and we’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that this is Earthworm Jim, nothing less. And the bad news is that this is Earthworm Jim, nothing more.

Sure, the graphics have been smoothed out nicely from the 16-bit version. As a slightly downgraded version of the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade version, EWJ has never looked better. The backgrounds and animations are just as vibrant as we remembered them, perhaps even more so. Plus, every sound effect and musical backdrop has also been preserved.

However, this remake contains no tilt controls, added levels, or bonus features. And while there are three difficulty modes, it’s still wicked hard unless you know what you’re doing. Earthworm Jim now, just as it was then, is a game for dedicated gamers. The final version may also include a level select feature, so at least you won’t have to start from scratch if you lose all your lives.

The levels we played, New Junk City and What the Heck?, were exact replicas of the 16-bit originals. New Junk City is a trash-strewn landscape filled with piles of tires, barbed wire, and rusty chains. Enemies include a rabid junkyard dog and crows that will try to yank Jim out of his super suit.

In What the Heck?, a favorite of ours from the innocent 1990’s, Jim finds himself on a planet that is basically our modern conception of Hell: Demons, lawyers, and polka music. A grinning cat-beast looms perpetually in the background as Jim navigates bursts of flame and spiky pits. You can see this level for yourself (complete with easy listening muzak in the background– this is Hell, after all) in our video above.

We also played a stage where Jim has to smash a giant ball of snot into the wall, as they bungee jump over a lake of green goo. Major Mucus, your enemy here, will do a spin attack to knock you back, and with enough hits he’ll fray your rope. You also have to watch out for a giant snapping creature that is just waiting for you to linger long enough at the bottom to bite you in two. This stage is also included in our video.

To be honest, the lack of tilt control in levels like this was a disappointment’” we were hoping that the memorable mucus bungee-jump stage or bonus rocket-races against Crow would use tilt control, but it’s all just D-Pad only. As for those controls, they’re a little more cramped than we’d like, with a D-pad in one corner (no analog stick) and three buttons for jumping, whipping, and shooting.

We’re happy that Gameloft has rescued Earthworm Jim from obscurity, and if this port/remake is a success, we’d like to see them remake the sequel as well. However, don’t go in expecting a completely re-imagined upgrade in the style of The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition. When Earthworm Jim hits the App Store later this month, nostalgia will probably be the key factor as to whether or not you’ll enjoy this strange, funny, and very difficult game.

Earthworm Jim Remake Confirmed For iPhone

After a Gameloft press release that notably excluded “iPhone” from the list of upcoming release platforms, Gameloft has confirmed to Slide to Play that Earthworm Jim will in fact be coming to the iPhone.

Gameloft tells us that the iPhone version “will be a remake of the Sega Genesis/Super Nintendo Classic from 1994’ and will appear on iPhone in addition to home consoles via WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade, and Playstation Network, as well as other cellphone platforms.


We’ve got our hopes up now, after the Lucasarts Xbox Live Arcade version of The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition came out quickly for iPhone, with fully intact audio and mostly intact visuals, so we know that quality XBLA to iPhone ports are possible.

The original two Earthworm Jim games for 16-bit systems were very well-received in the mid-90s, but Jim’s later 3D endeavors fell far short of expectations. The original Earthworm Jim was also originally scheduled to be remade in 2006 for the PSP, but Atari’s financial woes forced the project to be shelved.

With a history of making quality side-scrollers for the iPhone, we’re hoping Gameloft can do the much-loved Earthworm Jim series justice. And if you never played the originals, take our word that they’re a cow-launching, Heck-descending, worm-whipping blast.

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