Review: Earthworm Jim HD
Release Date: August 3rd, 2010
Price: $9.99 | £7.99| €9.99
Players: 1-4 local/online
What I liked:
- All of the crazyness of Earthworm Jim remains intact in this HD remake.
- The additional content (three levels, online/offline fifteen level campaign) is a great addition.
- Ten dollars is a great price for quite a bit of content.
What I disliked:
- The pace of the single player game can drag at times.
- Some of the level design might confuse new players to the franchise.
- Two of the trophies are pretty much impossible to achieve.
Earthworm Jim has had a tough life. After two great games on various 16-bit era platforms, Jim made the jump to 3D with an N64 title that got mixed results and reviews. Then, after a period of Jim-less years there was word of a PSP remake featuring 3D graphics on a 2D plane, but ultimately was canned with the demise of Shiny. It seemed Jim would be gone forever.
But here we are, with a brand new HD remake of the first classic game complete with a set of new content in a great $10 package. As a big EWJ fan, I really couldn’t ask for more, and Gameloft seems to “get” what makes EWJ so much fun and unique in the first place (for one, leaving the game in it’s 2D roots instead of a 3D/2D hybrid, which doesn’t look nearly as good judging by the leaked PSP footage).
So what is Earthworm Jim? He’s just a worm who stumbled upon a super suit that gives him powers, and arms and legs for that matter, and goes around to various worlds for no particular reason as he battles the evil Psy-crow in asteroid races and faces other unworldly threats, like Evil the Cat and the mysterious goldfish who lives in an Atlantis-like city of tubes.
This game makes no sense and is determined not to make any sense for the duration of the game, like launching cows to progress and sending you to Heck and back (the bankers in Heck are even funnier now, given the times we live in). I was surprised at all the craziness that Gameloft ported over, right down to the Groovy! title cards between levels. All of it’s here, and it’s aged considerably well aside from the level design- it’s tough to gauge what you can stand on, what might hurt you, and if you can grab on to something. I realize that sounds like a complete deal breaker but it’s not that bad once you get used to the eccentricities of the Jim universe. The other problem is the asteroid races between levels, which slow the game down and are very tough to complete as you get further along….they weren’t much fun in the original game, and not much fun here either.
The addition of three bonus levels is surprisingly great, and maintains the feel of EWJ without feeling like tacked-on extras. If anything they give me the confidence to know that Gameloft could easily make an original EWJ adventure and it would still feel faithful to the original. The new levels are easier than the main game with a lot of health scattered about and it’s pretty clear to know where you’re going, two things that shouldn’t be the case at all given the original EWJ level design, but it’s still fun to play. The fifteen level co-op campaign is quite fun with a buddy as they’re entirely new levels set within the themes of the single player game, and you can play them offline or online. Just be warned that a four player game is usually more chaotic than fun, since there’s so much going on that it’s almost impossible to gauge what’s on the screen.
I do have one problem with the remake that only EWJ fans would really know/care about, and that’s the animation. It’s been halved from the original game, making some animations (such as Evil the Cat tearing up Jim, or the hamsters in the tubes, or the Peter Puppy transformations) not quite as clear, and therefore ruining the joke a bit. It’s a shame because it prevents the game from being the definitive version of EWJ, for me anyways.
It’s impossible for me to say whether or not new fans to the series would enjoy this crazy experience. There’s a demo available, which should give you a good idea of the platform mechanics and gameplay. What I can tell you is the single player game is still fun after all these years, the bonus content is great, the music is great, “For Pete’s Sake” remains one of my all time favorite levels ever with it’s extreme difficulty and absurd premise, and the ten dollar price tag feels just right. If anything, it shows just how far away we are from the 16-bit era game design these days…the new difficulty selection for this HD remake ranges from Easy, Medium, Hard and Original (aka insane). Imagine that.
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