"Plan A: Senseless violence. Okay, muchacho, EAT DIRT!"
Earthworm Jim stands on a stage, he’s imitating Jerry Seinfeld. "What is the deal with old superheroes? D'you ever wonder about that? I mean, do they go to the old superheroes' home? I mean, what is the deal with that? How does a superhero retire? What if the hotline rings? 'Hello? Yes, the worlds about to be destroyed? Sorry, I just turned 65. What is the deal with that? And if you have x-ray vision, what happens to your eyes if they start to go bad? Can you only see through really thin stuff? I mean, what is the deal with that? Hello?! Is this on?! I said, what is the deal with that? You're supposed to find that hilarious... Laugh or perish fiendish audience!"
The audience laughs.
If the animated series of Earthworm Jim did anything well it was to capture the frolicsome and mischievous sense of humour that ran throughout the game that started it all. The launching of cows, bungie jumping over pools of snot and an evil professor with a monkey for a head: All of these characterise a 16 BIT game that carved out its own place in the sun by injecting every single pixel with its own distinct personality. For those unlucky enough to have missed Jim the first time he arrived to blast nefarious villains in 1994, your chance to enjoy his blend of mischief and rock hard run and gun gameplay is now.
Gameloft have been given a wonderful game to work with here. This isn’t a case of taking a block of marble and carving out a beautiful statue, this is being handed the Venus De Milo and a small set of chisels and having to make it look appealing to today’s HD ready gamers. All things considered the team at Gameloft have done an admirable job. Jim and the various enemies that populate the world of this 2D platforming tour de force all look beautiful and crisp in their new tarted up forms. Similarly the animation hasn’t been compromised at all. In fact it is very rare for a classic game to receive a visual overhaul that even holds a candle to the nostalgia blurred memories of a once pre-pubescent gamer. I had to dig out old photographic and video evidence from the original release to double check that Gameloft had indeed changed a thing. Rest assured; they have.
All is not entirely successful in this update though, for Gameloft have revamped not just the visuals but also the audio and voice samples. Earthworm Jim purists will likely balk at the new voice talent lent to Jim. Whoever they hired gave it their best shot but somehow you can tell that this isn’t quite the same worm and, sadly, a modicum of his personality is lost in the transition. The re-made music however fares much better and long lost fans will likely be delighted to hear the more memorable tunes one more time.
Playing a side scrolling run and gun platform game with virtual touch screen buttons was always going to divide opinion but as far as I’m concerned Gameloft have once again done exemplary work. You can choose between a virtual D-Pad or analog stick (the former is by far the superior choice in our experience) while firing your blaster, jumping and whipping with your worm body are all achieved via a button arrangement on the lower right hand side of the screen. Of course it’s not ideal, especially not when compared to playing the game with a proper tactile control pad, but given the hardware’s limitations I struggle to think of a better execution. If the very thought of playing a platform game on the touch screen sends shivers down your spine then move along, there’s nothing for you to see here (with the exception of the Andy’s Asteroids levels which now make full use of the accelerometer).
Earthworm Jim is going to appeal primarily to mid-twenty something’s who have fond memories of sitting cross legged on the floor about three feet away from the television. To those people I say “buy with confidence!” Gameloft’s release is a raucous trip down memory lane and, thanks to the three new difficulty levels and progress saving feature, won’t necessarily force you to dedicate hours and hours of your life to mastering a single level. To everyone else I can still easily recommend this colourful cartoon adventure; the level design, the zany characters, there is just too much charm crammed into this app for you to miss out.
Thanks to Gameloft “Once again, the trousers of evil are yanked down by the mocking hands of justice!” -Peter Puppy
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 8
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