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Earthworm Jim, Or Why Nostalgia Can Be A Bad Thing May 14, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Feature, Rant, Retro, Wii.
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What happened here then? Back in the day I used to love this game on the Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis, for the Yanks) and it was probably one of my post-played games on the system. I was attracted to it by it’s unique, cartoony visuals which stood out at the time. The character designs were great and I enjoyed the slapstick humour – things like whipping a crow with your body resulting in an explosion of feathers and a beak always raised a smile. Earthworm Jim 1The platforming aspects were decent and overall the gameplay was fun.

Fast-forward fifteen years or so and I have 800 spare Wii points on the Shopping Shopping channel. while browsing through the available Mega Drive games I came across Earthworm Jim and decided to buy it, remembering how much I had enjoyed it previously all those years ago. A few minutes later and I find it to be a very frustrating experience. The movement and controls in general felt clunky and awkward. The enemies annoying and cheap, the first boss in particular was a right pain in the ass and just seemed to soak up the damage I was doing to him. The visuals and sound effects (especially the whipping noise) were still as good as I remembered, but on the whole, it wasn’t the brilliant platformer I loved back in the day.

Of course back when I first played it I was a hell of a lot more forgiving for all the negatives previously mentioned, and very naive. Earthworm Jim 2Looking back on the game, and from what I’ve got after playing it again, it’s just an average platformer living off it’s impressive visuals and quirky characters. I wonder how well received a similar game would be today on  XBLA or WiiWare, for example. Would people be as forgiving now as they were back then? Surely not. I also played the sequel on the Mega Drive but my memory of that is rather hazy, all I remember was a section where you became a blind cave salamander for some reason or other. Incidentally my experience with this game on the Virtual Console has probably put me off of buying the sequel when it is inevitably released. Also, it’s worth adding that the Earthworm Jim cartoon was fantastic. Pokemon aside (that was in a league of its own, obviously) this was probably the most faithful game-to-cartoon adaptation I ever watched, the theme tune was great.

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1. Adam - May 14, 2009

Nostalgia is a fragile thing (see panel 645 of Watchmen), so you won’t see me playing this or Sparkster: Rocket Rodent. Our younger selves had fewer choices and distractions and god bless us we weren’t critics. I don’t think I ever played a shit game, just games that I was shit at.

Playing old games for the first time is a different matter. I’m persevering with Super Star Wars even though it’s kicking my arse.

2. Vote Toejam & Earl « He Got Games - August 14, 2009

[…] Long story short, go HERE and vote for Toejam & Earl. Sega have set up a poll to decide what game will be the next Sega Genesis Mega Drive released on XBLA. At the time of writing, shit, not-aged-well-at-all platformer Earthworm Jim is currently in the lead with a revolting 43% of the votes, and Toejam & Earl is second with 20%. You can read my thoughts on Earthworm Jim HERE. […]


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