Typically, when an “old school” game that was deemed a classic back in its day gets announced for the Xbox Live Arcade, there are cheers from all over. When it’s released, the same people that cheered play the game a couple of times and then push it aside never to be played again. I am one of those people. A good example of this is the release of arguably one of the best fighting games of our time, Marvel vs. Capcom 2. I played the game maybe five times that’s it. So when Earthworm Jim was announced for XBLA, I was excited but not too sure how and if it would hold my attention for very long.
When Earthworm Jim was released, I was just a kid and was easily entertained. After playing the game for a bit, I was hooked. The funny story, sound effects that would make your mom blush, on top of a dark sense of humor, the game was a hit with me, as it was with most of the people who played it. Earthworm Jim whipped his way to our hearts back in 1994 and does it again in 2010.
Everything you know and love has returned but this time with shiny new high definition graphics. You play as the worm turned hero and guide him through levels filled with an interesting cast of baddies including lawyers. When I played it for the first time in ’94, I found out pretty quickly that I needed a ton of patience to get through this crazy venture. And the same hold true in this remake. The biggest issue I had then that I have now is the jumping from one platform to another. Usually in these kinds of games, you can jump from the edge of one platform to another with little problems but in EJ I typically found myself merely falling instead of jumping. So a little bit of compensation is needed when jumping.
But, unlike back in the day, this time around, I found myself getting lost in a few levels. This isn’t hard to do as the game gives you very little guidance on which way to go (yes, there are multiple paths to take to get to your final destination). And, after finally figuring it out, it always turns out to be something minuscule that I missed or didn’t notice.
The gameplay of course remains unchanged. You still shoot, jump, and whip your way through each level with a ride on your gun that turns into a rocket at the end of each. The controls remain simple with the A button has you jumping (hold it down to use the worm as a helicopter), you can use the right trigger to shoot, and the B button to use yourself as a whip (which also allows you to hook on to certain objects).
The action tends to get repetitive but the different elements in each level helps to keep things a little fresh. And the bosses are some of the funniest I have ever seen in a game. My favorite is the goldfish. When I first encountered him, I just sat there looking at him thinking about what to do. And what I was thinking was just to whip him because he wasn’t attacking me, but that just seems too easy. So he just sat there looking at me and I did the same thing. After awhile of doing this, I just said “screw it” and whipped him. Doing that, the evil goldfish was defeated. It’s one of those “you have to be there moments” to fully get the humor of this.
If you are wondering what the justification of spending $10 on this game is, well besides the humor and fun gameplay, it adds three new levels that you unlock by finding hidden cans that are scattered throughout the game. True you can beat this game in less than a day (if you want to get some of the achievements, you have to do this), but if you are as obsessive-compulsive as I am, it will take you a bit longer trying to collect all the orbs and secrets.
So, will I play Earthworm Jim more than a couple of times? Absolutely! The humor and sound effects alone keep me smirking and coming back for more. Even if this game falls by the wayside, I will look back a few years down the road ecstatic that this classic game was released on the XBLA.
Review copy provided by publisher.