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.