|System: DSi||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Gameloft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Gameloft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 10, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Back in the 16-bit days, when 2D platformers were as abundant as first-person shooters are today, it could often be easy for a quality platformer to get lost in the shuffle with the rest of the generic side-scrolling contenders. Even so, it was at this time that Earthworm Jim crawled its way onto the Genesis and Super Nintendo, and with a combination of its impressive graphics and animation, varied and entertaining gameplay, and ridiculous characters and objectives it managed to garner the attention of critics and gamers alike.
Unfortunately, while I was also a huge fan of Earthworm Jim when it came out, even my impossible to ignore nostalgic feelings for this title still aren't enough to overshadow some of the issues in this DSiWare version that shows almost every bit of its nearly decade and a half age.
For anyone who has never come into contact with any of the Earthworm Jim titles, the original is a game that stars an ordinary earthworm who winds up controlling an advanced spacesuit after it drops on him from outer space. After losing the spacesuit, its owner, Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-Filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt (seriously, this is the character's actual name) and her crony Psy-Crow understandably attempt to retrieve their property. As Jim laid hidden within the suit's neck hole while being mutated into his much larger and more intelligent form, he managed to overhear their conversation that involved an evil scheme to conquer the galaxy and plans for the Queen's sister, Princess-What's-Her Name. After fully mutating into a hero and with the use of his new suit and abilities, Jim becomes determined to take on the Queen and her lackeys in order to save the Princess and the galaxy as a whole.
With these types of ridiculous storyline and character names, one would rightfully assume that this game certainly isn't trying to take itself seriously. In fact, what I find to be one of the funnier aspects of this title is that you'll only learn of this storyline if you seek it out outside of the game. There is virtually no mention of Jim's motivations or even his goal to be found throughout the adventure. This means that if you just decide to randomly pick up this title and give it a go, it'll just feel like a cluster of disjointed and nonsensical levels being sometimes only very loosely strung together with a few recurring characters.
Thankfully, much of the humor found within this classic title is still at least mildly amusing today. Everything from the cow launch that occurs early in your adventure to the dreaded boss fight with Bob the Killer Goldfish later on, which only requires you to make contact with his fishbowl in order to knock it from a stand and leave Bob flopping on the ground, still result in some genuine chuckles. Further lending to this game's ability to tickle your funny bone are its decent, but not great, animation and its cartoony sound effects. Jim himself, as well as some of the more important characters in the game, all have at least a few comical animations. For instance, if you simply take your hands off of the D-pad and buttons Jim will flex, hit himself in the head while tossing his machine gun, jump rope using his worm body, and perform several other humorous idle animations as well.
While memory size was always a limiting factor when making 16-bit cartridge games, the sound in Earthworm Jim was impressive for its day. You certainly won't find any orchestral scores or extensive voice work here, but what's there is a perfect fit for this title. Everything from the shots fired from Jim's trusty machine gun to the crack of his earthworm body being used as a whip sound just like you'd expect. Then there are the real audio gems such as the music in the "What the Heck?" level, the sound a garbage man makes when belching up dead fish, and the screech of Psy-Crow when he's run into during races. Even with the game's relatively small file size, you'll even be treated to a few grainy bits of dialogue from Jim himself as he shouts things like "Plasma" when he grabs a weapon power-up and "Whoa Nelly" as he gets a burst of speed while piloting his rocket.
Of course, these are the good things about this title that anyone who has played Earthworm Jim before would point to as the highlights of this classic title. However, there are some issues that keep this from being a completely delightful romp down memory lane. First off, this version of Earthworm Jim has been referred to as a remake of the 16-bit title, when in fact it is very close to being an exact port of the game. If you've played this title before, this will be nearly the exact same experience you've already likely had many times. The graphics, sound, levels, gameplay, etc. all seem to be directly ported from the original version of the game.