Earthworm Jim

Copyright: © 1994 Shiny Entertainment
Genre: Arcade action

Arcade action

Earthworm Jim
After successfully updating classic Atari cartridge game Pitfall! to the
'90s with Pitfall: A Mayan Adventure, the first platform game for Windows
95, Activision next turned their excellent game engine to Earthworm Jim,
a cult classic on the SNES and Megadrive console systems. Earthworm Jim
was the brainchild of talented folks who created Aladdin for Disney, and
later formed Shiny Entertainment (who would later be much more famous for
MDK). The game was so successful that it inspired a whole range of toys,
as well as its own TV cartoon series. What makes Earthworm Jim games a
lot of fun is the excellent characterization of the hero. Like The
Simpsons, Earthworm Jim (who was a lowly earthworm until he was one day
accidentally given superhero powers) deftly walks the line between
slapstick humor and social commentary-you could even call it subversive.
Chris McMullen?s very thorough review for Games Domain describes what
makes it a must-have: "EWJ gives a breath of fresh air to the whole
platform genre. Instead of taking its cure from Super Mario, or Sonic,
EWJ is suitably original. For a start, there's none of this monster
squishing, or spin attacking in this game. Jim comes equipped with a big
red gun, which he can fire in a number of directions, to dispatch any foe
that comes his way. Then, there's his body, which can be used to whip
monsters out of the way, or can be used to swing across hooks and
ravines. Or should the worst come to the worst, he can use his head like
a helicopter to guide himself away from a particularly nasty fall. There
are the usual power ups to grab, such as plasma, or power ups. Jim's gun
does drain energy, and recharges, given half a chance. But do you really
want to be stuck in the middle of a load of baddies, waiting for your gun
to work again? Earthworm Jim 2 adds a little more to the formula. Jim now
has a backpack companion, Snott, who can be used either as a parachute,
or as a swing to swing himself across mucus encrusted ledges. Yuk! Plus,
there's [sic] even more weapons, with a homing gun, a big laser, a
completely useless bubble gun, and the awesome barn gun. The latter is
unfeasibly large, and when used, clears the screen of baddies, and most
of the foliage, too. The levels themselves are inspired, although EWJ2's
levels are just a tad better than 1's. Pretty soon after the first level,
things get pretty weird. Jim ends up in Heck, Evil the Cat's domain, and
is forced to outrun falling rocks, screaming meenies, and sometimes just
plain run on the spot to get anywhere. Then, after yet more weirdness,
Jim has to guide Peter Puppy to safety, across a number of traps. Only
Peter is no ordinary puppy. Get him mad, and he'll turn into a snarling
monster, and start taking bites out of Jim. You need to keep close behind
him, keeping anything vaguely hostile out of his way, whipping him to
make him jump, and so on. EWJ2 gets even better, with a bonus sequence,
where you must bounce little puppies to safety, using a big cushion. Only
the puppies are thrown faster and faster, and you start diving to try and
catch them. I could go on and on for ages about the levels, there's so
much to do, and no sign of boredom or repetitiveness creeping in at all."
With extremely original, inventive, and entertaining levels, numerous
surprises, excellent graphics, and smooth gameplay, Activision has done
justice to Jim with a righteous conversion, with same mastery that ported
Pitfall! a cartridge original to the PC. Must-haves!
 

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