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Characters
Earthworm Jim

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Earthworm Jim 2

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Earthworm Jim 3D
Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy

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Earthworm Jim 3D - N64, Windows (1999)

American N64 Cover

European N64 Cover

After the release of Earthworm Jim 2, Shiny was bought by Interplay, who helped publish MDK, their next game. With the Shiny members working on other projects. Interplay saw fit to carry the series into the third dimension, farming the Earthworm Jim property to a different development team in the process. The new guys were VIS Entertainment, who later went on to create the underwhelming State of Emergency games. The N64 version, oddly enough, was published by Rockstar.

Apparently, our hero Jim was involved in a cow accident, which lands him in a trip to the hospital. His enemies (Psy-Crow, Professor Monkey-for-a-Head, along with other new characters like Fatty Rowsell) have infiltrated his mind, so Jim enters his own psyche to do battle. It's an amusing concept that doesn't really pay off, although the final boss is Jim's feminine side, Earthworm Kim.

Earthworm Jim 3D

Like most 2D-to-3D games that were released in the 32/64-bit console era, the developers never quite seemed to understand how to properly make the transition. In this case, Earthworm Jim 3D was turned to mimic other 3D platformers at the time, similar to Rare's games like Donkey Kong 64 and Banzo Kazooie. It controls pretty much like the standard 3D platformer at time - large, boxy environments, slippery controls, and a camera control that you'll constantly need to wrestle with. Whipping enemies doesn't really seem to work, because Jim is always obscuring the viewpoint, so attacking enemies is a matter of getting close and wailing on the button, hoping you'll hit them. The gun aiming controls aren't much better. Although you can still use Jim's head as a helicopter to prolong your jump, you can only spin for less than a second before dropping straight to the ground.

The levels are mostly, although not entirely, linear - there's usually a goal at the end, but occasionally you'll need to talk to a character to obtain a mission, and report back to them when completed. These will yield Golden Udders, which are required to unlock new stages. In addition to hunting down these Udders, you'll also need to pick up floating marbles (since Jim has lost them... get it?), which are also required to open new areas.

And here's where the frustration kicks in. The game doesn't actually save which marbles you've picked up, it just keeps a total record. It gets extremely annoying when you're told you need more marbles to enter the next stage, have to backtrack to a previous level, and collecting ALL of the marbles you've gathered already (the game never differentiates) in addition to any extra ones. Furthermore, every time you die, your marble count resets to zero, forcing you to regrab anything you collected in your previous life. There is no word for this kind of tedium.

The environments are all incredibly dull, which is probably the biggest tragedy of the game. Since you're travelling through Jim's brain, you'd expect something really unique, but the first level seems to take place in a warehouse, complete with repetitive wood textures and brown boxes everywhere. The second level is a crazy barnyard, and even that looks boring. There's almost none of the creativity of the previous games. At least Jim's character model looks pretty decent and is fairly well animated.

Earthworm Jim 3D

It's clear that the developers had played the previous Earthworm Jim games and understood its sense of humor, but couldn't even hope to do anything as inspired. Yes, yes, cows and hamsters and bagpipes are funny, but it still lacks freshness. For instance, in the first stage, you pull a trigger which launches several refridgerators into the air. At various points throughout the game, the refridgerators fall on various people you've helped, and Jim even gets squashed at the end. Funny stuff - if you've never seen the first game. Furthermore, there's actual dialogue in this game (although not much voice acting), and it's not nearly as funny as you'd expect it to be. Part of these seems to come from the fact that it's based on the (only slightly funny) cartoon series. Some of it just doesn't fit - at one point, you get a butcher knife that acts like a boomerang, which is used to decapitate enemy cows. Amusing for a Conker game, maybe, but it really doesn't fit in with Earthworm Jim.

There are numerous segments that aggravate beyond belief. In one segment, you need to shoot certain distant targets in a short time span, except your gun doesn't allow any semblance of aiming. The boss battles are "pig surfing" stages, where you're plopped in a close arena while riding a pig. You need to collect all 100 marbles in the stage, but your opponent is also trying to steal them. There are missiles that occasionally spawn around the arena. If you get hit, you lose five marbles - if they get hit, they lose five marbles. Thus, it's extremely slow, drawn out of tug war, especially since it's nearly impossible to accurately control your movement, and it's way too hard to actually see the missiles your foe is shooting at you.

Even if you have a high tolerance for N64 era platformers, Earthworm Jim 3D is on the lower end of mediocre. It apparently suffered from an overly long development cycle, but it's still clear that it was rushed - the game advertised the appearance of Evil the Cat, who doesn't show up at all. There was also a PlayStation version in production, although that was cancelled. Only the N64 and PC versions remain - the PC version runs smoother and at a higher resolution, plus has CD music - which isn't quite up to par with the 2D games, but isn't too bad - so it's probably the way to go, if you must.

Quick Info:

Developer:

VIS Entertainment

Publisher:

Interplay

Director:

Kirk Ewing

Genre:

Action: 3rd Person

Themes:

Microcosmic
Player: Anthropomorph
Swinging
Wacky / Over the Top


Earthworm Jim 3D (Windows)

Earthworm Jim 3D (Windows)

Earthworm Jim 3D (Windows)

Earthworm Jim 3D (Windows)

Earthworm Jim 3D (Windows)


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Additional Screenshots


Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy - Game Boy Color (1999)

American GBC Cover

European GBC Cover

Earthworm Jim 3D failed to excite much of anyone, but Crave dug the series further into the ground with the Game Boy Color game Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy. Somehow, the development team, David A. Palmer Productions - once again, without the involvement of any of the original team - turned Earthworm Jim from a clever action game to a stunningly generic platformer, the type that are usually seen hanging around with Nickelodeon licensed titles. It was meant to tie in with the cartoon series - the cover artwork is done in the same style - but was released a good few years after it had finished airing.

Absolutely none of the cartoonish charm has transferred to this game. One can't expect all of the animation quality to transfer to a Game Boy Color title, but Jim barely even looks like Jim. A handful of familiar faces show up as bosses, like Evil the Cat, Bob the Goldfish, and Queen Slug for a Butt, along with Evil Jim from the TV show. But those are the only reminders that this is, in fact, an Earthworm Jim game. Forget the interesting levels of the console games - here, you'll go through enthralling levels like "Graveyard", "Desolation", and "Sci-Fi". The "wackier" ones like "Bedroom" and "Sweetshop" don't show much more inspiration either.

Now, the Game Boy port of the original Earthworm Jim wasn't great, but at least it kinda sorta played like the console games. This one isn't even close. Menace 2 the Galaxy, like Earthworm Jim 3D, has been turned into a collectathon, where you need to explore each level to find a certain number of red coins - usually at least a hundred of them - before you can proceed. The levels are huge and tough to navigate, with platforms always frustratingly out of your reach, an experience further confounded by strange jumping physics. Occasionally you'll find your rocket, which lets you fly through stage, but it has a limited amount of fuel. You can't head whip anymore, with your only weapon being your gun and a handful of weapon pickups, which are all pretty clumsy. The graphics are garish - typical for a Game Boy Color game - and the music is all hideous. In short, there's nothing good to say about Menace 2 the Galaxy. It's an awful cash-in, and it's sad that the series ended on such a low note.

Quick Info:

Developer:

David A. Palmer Productions

Publisher:

Crave Entertainment

Designer:

Chris Edwards

Genre:

Action: Side-Scrolling

Themes:

Microcosmic
Player: Anthropomorph
Wacky / Over the Top


Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy (GBC)

Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy (GBC)


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Additional Screenshots


Cartoons and Merchandise

In 1995, roughly a year after the original Earthworm Jim video game was released, began a TV series devoted to our favorite worm-turned-super-hero. As it happens, both Earthworm Jim and Peter Puppy live together in a nice, quiet suburban neighborhood... at least, when they're not being attacked by Queen Slug-for-a-Butt, Professor Monkey-for-a-Head, Psy-Crow, and Bob. Also added to the mix is Evil Jim, an evil doppelganger. Much of the random humor from the video games translates pretty well into a cartoon, but it doesn't quite hit all of the notes it should. All of the villains are amusing, each with their own quirks, sometimes working with, or against each other. Surprisingly the weakest link is Jim himself - voiced by Dan Castelleneta, the acting is way overdone, and it ends up being more obnoxious than funny. It doesn't help that the melody of the (intentionally?) awful theme song is repeated over and over as background music. Still, some of the plot lines are somewhat inspired, like when Jim needs to run across the galaxy to retrieve an egg beater for his neighbor, or when a mystical sword turns Jim into a viking. It ran for two seasons, for a total of twenty six episodes - not bad, considering that other similarly-themed video game shows like Battletoads and Bubsy never made it beyond a single pilot. Eight of these were collected onto four VHS releases, although there are no current DVD releases.

Of course, there were a number of action figures of the Earthworm Jim crew. They obviously never replicated the success that Playmates had with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but they did alright for themselves.

Earthworm Jim Figure


Earthworm Jim Cartoon


Cameos

Jim has shown up in a few fighting games. He's a secret character in Battle Arena Toshinden for the PC, although he's really just a new model for the character Rungo Iron. His voices include sound clips from the Earthworm Jim games, and his music is the banjo chase theme from the Andy Asteroids level. Jim also shows up as a playable character in Interplay's ClayFighter 63 1/3. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, much like the TV series, although Dan also provides the voice of Boogerman. It's amusing to see Jim rendered as a clay action figure, but like the rest of the ClayFighter games, should absolutely be avoided.

Battle Arena Toshinden (Windows)



The Future of Earthworm Jim

In 2006, there were rumors that an Earthworm Jim was in development for the PlayStation Portable. Eventually, screenshots began to trickle out, showing it to be a 2.5D game similar to Capcom's Maverick Hunter X and Mega Man: Powered Up. Although the first screens showed a rendition of New Junk City, leading people to believe it would be a remake, the developers confirmed it would, in fact, be mostly a new game, with elements from some of the 16-bit titles. Alas, due to the financial instability of Atari, the owner of the Earthworm Jim IP at the time, the game was cancelled. In more recent times, some of the old development staff have expressed interest in a completely new game for modern platforms, although nothing has been set in stone.

Earthworm Jim (PSP)



The Legacy of Earthworm Jim

Although there hasn't been anything on the market quite like Earthworm Jim, its creators have gone on to develop some interesting games that share its spirit.

Shiny's next game after Earthworm Jim was the successful MDK, their first venture into 3D gaming. While it's a bit more serious than Earthworm Jim, it has its own bizarre, if understated, sense of humor. In one area, you collect Earthworm Jim head icons, which drop cows on your enemies. The sequel was developed by Bioware (usually known for RPGs like Baldur's Gate), while Shiny worked on other games like Messiah and Sacrifice. Dave Perry stayed with the company, all the way up through the two terrible Matrix games developed for Atari, until eventually they merged with The Collective (Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the Xbox, Star Wars Episode III, Silent Hill: Homecoming) to form Double Helix.

Other team members went separate ways. Douglas TenNapel went out to create the claymation based Neverhood series, including the platformer Skullmonkeys. After leaving the video games industry, he concentrated on comics like GEAR and created the Nickelodean cartoon Catscratch. His unique brand of artistry has evolved quite a bit since Earthworm Jim, but still maintains much of its wackiness.

Nick Bruty and Andy Aster, a graphics designer and a programmer left to form Planet Moon Studios, who created Giants: Citizens Kabuto and Armed and Dangerous, both games with unique senses of humor.

Tommy Tallarico still composes video game music, but also helped organized the Video Games Live orchestra concerts across the world. He also had a brief stint as a host on a G4 TV show.

Gear



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<<< Prior Page

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Page 1:
Characters
Earthworm Jim

Page 2:
Earthworm Jim 2

Page 3:
Earthworm Jim 3D
Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy

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