Earthworm Jim HD Review

By on August 26, 2010

This 16bit classic gets a face-lift, but is it still groovy?

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Back in the mid-90s, if you had either a SNES or a Mega Drive it is likely that you both played and loved Earthworm Jim. It was hard not to. For starters it looked fantastic and it had a sense of humor seldom found in video games. To this day I still can’t think of a funnier conclusion to a game. So, being the nostalgia nut that I am, when word got out that a reworked HD version of the game was hitting the PSN, I was giddy with anticipation.

If you are unfamiliar with Earthworm Jim let me quickly bring you up to speed. The game is your run-of-the-mill 2D side-scrolling platformer. Your character – a simple earthworm that, by chance, finds himself controlling an intergalactic humanoid space-suit. With his new found ‘body’, Earthworm Jim sets out to rescue a princess (oddly enough). What ensues is alot of humorous absurdity spread across various interesting and often hilarious levels.

Just seeing the game in HD instantly justified its release. The visuals have always been gorgeous and the HD face-lift seemed like just what the game needed to ignite interest once again. However my blissful trip down memory lane was short-lived as the dated controls quickly became evident. That warm feeling of nostalgia was replaced by sheer frustration as I repeatedly failed to make the simplest of jumps. It may look like a gem but it controls like a fossil.

While I have no problems with the effort made to usher this 16bit classic into the HD era and while I commend the inclusion of the online/offline multiplayer mode, I was shocked at how badly it controlled. Eventually I was able to unlearn the platforming basics, we all now take for granted, enough to make my way through the game but the damage was already done. A game I have held in such high esteem for over a decade was exposed as the dinosaur it has become. In all fairness, games from the past should not be assessed according to modern day conventions but, by not tightening the controls of the revised version, Gameloft has forced us to point this out. Sure it’s not as bad as trying to play the first Resident Evil with an analog stick, but it is undoubtedly frustrating…and becomes more so as you progress to the more difficult levels.

Still, Earthworm Jim’s crass charm and humor is as effective as ever. In addition to this, the added coop mode works surprising well. While you do not traverse the same levels as the single player mode, the multiplayer levels are designed in order to accommodate multiple players. So you will stumble across obstacles that require the players to work together to tackle which adds an extra dimension to the gameplay, making multiplayer a compelling mode of play.

Earthworm Jim is still a game that I would recommend to all side-scroller buffs but not without a warning. If you are looking to pick up Earthworm Jim HD because it is a classic redone to look beautiful on your HDTV, you will not be disappointed. However if you are just looking for a slick 2D platformer to enjoy then your enjoyment will depend on your patience and your threshold for dated controls.

The Scorecard
Dated controls frustrate regularly in an otherwise pleasant side-scroller.
Visuals that look fresh even after all these years, the HD rework surely helps.
Some great music, especially in the second level.
The multiplayer levels add some extra value to this reworked classic.
Nostalgic appeal aside, Earthworm Jim can be fun but is more often funny.
Not the great many of us remember it as, but still looks fantastic and more so in high definition.


As an opinionated young gamer many years ago, I made three predictions: 1- Sega would dominate the console wars for 50 years. 2- Simon's Quest would be remembered as the definitive NES game. 3- I would be gaming even more as an adult. I suppose one out of three isn't bad.

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    Best game Ever!

  • McD419

    ahh fun memories of being 6 and playing worms on my brothers computer does bring back memories

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