Earthworm Jim is an old action game originally released on the Sega Genesis but received several ports to systems all the way up to Xbox Live arcade and even some phones. Originally released on August 2, 1994, the SNES port came out on June 23 of 1995. That’s the version of the game that I had my hands on.
As soon as you flick on your system and Earthworm Jim loads up, you know you’re going to be in for some weirdness. The art style really separates itself from other games, especially SNES games. Instead of pixelated graphics the game features a sort of cartoon animation style. It was also extremely well animated so that all the movements for everything were really fluid.
Story wise the game centers around Jim and his suit. Jim needs to navigate all the levels and defeat the bosses in order to save Princess What’s-Her-Name. I’m not making that up, that’s actually her name. Anyway, that’s as far as the story goes. The bosses of each level are after Jim because they want his robot suit. Had I not mentioned that yet? Jim is just a simple earthworm who has the good fortune of a robot suit falling from the sky. His earthworm body functions as the suits head while he is inside of it.
Controls are pretty solid, you can opt to shoot enemies or use your head as a whip and snap them down. The head whip also allows the player to swing from some hooks and the occasional moose head too. Do you think that’s strange? I did say that you were in for a fair amount of weirdness with this game.
As you navigate through the 9 or, if you manage to get to the secret level, 10 levels, all of which very interestingly designed, you’ll come across a plethora of enemies who will try to take you out. For the most part these enemies are simply fodder and die in one shot but there are a few that could give you trouble if you’re not paying attention. At the end of most levels is a boss fight and at the end of a boss fight you’re treated with a small segment known as Andy Asteroids. It’s a space race, you as Jim against Psy-Crow. If you manage to beat Psy-Crow then you move on to the next level immediately and are rewarded an extra continue. If you lose to Psy-Crow you’ll have to fight him before you can proceed to the next stage. There’s a lot of other bosses besides Psy-Crow, obviously, and they all have interesting names like Evil the Cat, Bob the Killer Goldfish and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head. My favorite fight is Bob the Killer Goldfish but I won’t spoil why.
All in all Earthworm Jim is a really different and really fun game. It’s not too long if you’re good at the game; I’ve seen some runs of the game from start to finish in under an hour. There’s a lot of humor sprinkled throughout the game and it’s just a joy to play in general. If it doesn’t make you want to rip your hair out in frustration first. The music is charmingly retro and has a couple of interestingly midi-fied tunes that you might find a bit familiar.