Earthworm Jim HD is an updated, high definition re-release of the zany platformer that originally released on Sega’s Genesis in 1994. With today’s games offering more in the way of options and gameplay can this remake really stand the test of time or should it of just been left in the past?
The story follows an earthworm named Jim who one day, while doing earthworm things, a super suit falls from the sky which by a stroke of luck Jim manages to land in the suit transforming him to a more intelligent earthworm hero. Soon after he acquires the super suit he discovers that the evil Psy Cow had killed a rebel pilot who had stolen the suit. The super suit, which was commissioned by Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt, was built so that she could conquer the galaxy. Although they do not have the suit they plan to get it back and have evil plans for Psy Cow’s sister, Princess Whats-Her-Name. Jim must battle his way through many enemies and diverse levels in order to rescue Princess Whats-Her-Name.
The story really is the first issue with this game, although the above paragraph does make it sound like there is a story when you play the game you really have no clue what is going on. You see a brief cut scene at the beginning of the game which shows Jim getting the suit, and then running away from Psy Cow, but that is it. You have no idea what your motivation is, why your fighting these crazy creatures and what your ultimate end goal is which ends up leaving you with more questions then answers. Then again, this was the extent of many games of this era.
The gameplay is a fun yet basic side scrolling platformer. The levels are broken up into one of two types the classic side scrolling platformer or space races which will have you flying through space avoiding asteroids all while trying to beat Psy Cow to the end. Even though most of the levels are generally the same with only the setting changing you will encounter some unique objectives like having to escort a dog across a level or controlling an underwater sub through tight rocky corridors.
The level design also ends up being an issue with the game. Although some levels are set up decently others are a complete pain, and other times you’re not sure where you need to go. Some levels are just overly difficult, and even on the easiest setting you will encounter frustrating areas that really drive home the fact that this is simply a remake of an older game.
Throughout each level you will encounter many enemies which Jim can disperse with his two different attacks. Your first weapon is a gun which shoots regular bullets and a deadly plasma attack. You will find ammo throughout the levels, so you should, for the most part, not have an issue with ammo. His other attack is a whip attack where he uses his head as a whip which is also useful to swing across large openings. Although these two attacks are fine it would have been nice to see some more upgrades or more weapons to flesh out the combat some more.
What Earthworm Jim does offer is a huge list of enemies. From rabid dogs to roided up monkeys, the amount of goofy characters never seems to end. There is also a robust number of bosses you will encounter. Each boss is just as weird and unique as the last, there are evil cats and dancing robots, an angry construction worker and a bungee jumping mutant. Each boss has a special way to kill them, but ultimately you will just be whipping them and shooting them as fast as possible.
The graphics have received a nice HD overhaul, and even though they are cartoony, it works very well with the wacky gameplay. The music for each level for the most part is pretty decent, but not groundbreaking and the voice acting is completely nonexistent.
There are a few issues I had with Earthworm Jim as stated above, even though there is as story to Earthworm Jim while playing the game it is not readily apparent what it is. There are no cut scenes no text to read, and just seems like a bunch of levels and bosses were just thrown into a blender and spit out in a random order. The level design can be frustrating with some areas being overly difficult even on the easiest setting. There are cheap enemies that can one hit kill you and levels that seem like you never know where you are going – they definitely feel dated . The lack of more then just the one weapon is also a disappointment, since this could of helped to change up the gameplay a little and added a little more depth. The game is also very short no more then 3 hours if you take your time. There is even a trophy for beating it in under 50 minutes, so you can complete the game even quicker if you tried hard enough.
Earthworm Jim does come with multiplayer which is kind of a surprise. What is even a bigger surprise is not only is it good, it is probably the best part of the game. It is both online and offline with up to four players in each. Although the gameplay is the same as the single player what the multiplayer does add is a competitive score chase to see who ends up with the most points at the end of each level. By killing enemies, collecting ammo and health orbs you will fight your way to the end. You can play each of the 15 single player levels with more enemies, more weapon and health pickups, and more bosses. There are also areas of each level where you will have to work together like grabbing a level to open the door while your partner goes through it and grabs a lever on the other side. Above everything else this may be the one reason to pick this game up.
Overall Earthworm Jim HD suffers from many poor design choice which really puts forth that this it is a remake of an older game. From the lack of weapon choices to the frustrating level design it has a hard time competing with today’s games. All that being said it still has its fun parts and the multiplayer is excellent with friends. If you’ve played the original this is a good trip down memory lane, but if your more into today’s games this may be a tad frustrating for you.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Goofy enemies and bosses are a blast
Multiplayer is a lot of fun with friends
Poor level design can be frustrating