Earthworm Jim came about when many of us were a lot younger and I feel like he probably looks pretty strange to gamers who didn’t get into video games until more recently. He may not have made a lot of sense but the concept worked and it was a hell of a lot of fun too! What started off as an idea to sell toys and other merchandised goodies, quickly became a badass game with a score from none other than Tommy Tallarico. You know what that means, right? That’s right. There’s no point in playing this on the SNES or comparing the two versions because the Genesis got that bass.
The developer that created Earthworm Jim had previously only worked on licensed games and so they never had the full freedom to do whatever they wanted when designing a game. It was because of this that they went all out and littered this game with all kinds of zany and crazy things at every twist and turn. From a cow you can launch towards the beginning of the first level to wacky boss fights to silly commentary on the industry at the time, like the fact that you’re rescuing ‘Princess What’s-Her-Name! This game was packed with two right hooks in terms of level design, humor, and the music.
Earthworm Jim travels from level to level defeating enemies and bosses to save Princess What’s-Her-Name in his special suit that came from space. The enemies he faces seek to eat him because he’s a worm or want to steal the suit from Jim. Either way–you’ve got your work cut out for you and it’ll take your wit, Jim’s suit, and his trusty gun to defeat the forces of evil and save Princess uh …what’s her name … oh yes, that’s right … Princess What’s-Her-Name!
The level design is top notch and has aged really well. Levels have all sorts of twists and turns and while linear in nature, there are plenty of little secrets and different paths to take. There are even paths that are harder or easier that offer additional challenges and more rewards or the punishment in forever knowing you weren’t brave enough to try to tackle the extra challenge.
Everything is really colorful and vibrant no matter what version you play, though if you have the option I would highly recommend the Genesis version. This game was made for Sega’s flagship bass-tastic console and so the music is infinitely superior and the graphics also have an extra few layers of polish. The graphical effects also look much better on the Genesis. The SNES version contains the same game though so if that’s your only way to play the original game then I’d still recommend it.
This game still controls great too. Aiming your gun and controlling Jim isn’t difficult at all. There are some platforming segments that can be tricky throughout the game but it’s largely due to not being able to tell what you can stand on and what’s just part of the game’s background or foreground. There are a few spots where you may need to back up to walk on or near. It may be irritating having to attempt to reposition yourself on a platform or slope but it certainly isn’t game breaking.
The music of this game is legendary and this is where your Sega Genesis can introduce you to your next door neighbors or even a roommate. They’ll be happy that you introduced them to such tasty, tasty jams that are only truly possible on your Sega Genesis. You’ll even earn bonus points if you play the HD version available on Xbox 360, PS3, or PC and crank a subwoofer up to 11 to truly share art with the world around you. Tommy Tallarico did a fantastic job on this score and I think it’s truly one of his best soundtracks. This is definitely a game where you’ll be humming the soundtrack long after you turn the game off. You may even want to dress up as a worm and play bass guitar in outer space or even in front of your local coffee shop. These are all great things that I would highly recommend you pursue but I’d wait until after you finish this fantastic game–and its sequel!
Earthworm Jim is tough at times. The difficulty is unforgiving and perfect if you’re younger and need one game to take a very long time to complete. If you’re an adult with little time to play games then you’re in for a wild ride. It’s definitely a fair game but it can be difficult to know where to go at times, complete a required sub-objective within a level, or just staying alive against the onslaught of enemies or against the full-force attack from a boss. If you keep going, you’ll definitely be able to beat it and savor in the glory of beating an older game. If you don’t care about pride and awards and want some beautiful updated graphics that help capture the spirit then I’d recommend getting Earthworm Jim HD as it has plenty of different difficulty levels to choose from and the game was remade from the ground up without the use of any of the original release’s code.
Despite some flaws with the sometimes confusing level design or the difficulty being almost impossible at times, this is still a truly great game. Earthworm Jim may not be the greatest platformer from the era it comes from but it’s definitely not only worth playing but it’s certainly one of the best platformers available on the Genesis and Super Nintendo. You just gotta make sure to play the Genesis or HD version so you can really crank that Sega bass and transport you and everyone without earshot through space and time so they can go back to 1994 with you–while enjoying some of the best bass that Sega has to offer.