STAFF REVIEW of Earthworm Jim HD (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Friday, June 11, 2010.
by Adam Dileva

Earthworm Jim HD Box art In 1994 Earthworm Jim was released and was something completely new and unique compared to anything else that had come out before. The main hero was a worm in a super suit battling evil Crows, Cats, and even odder enemies. Not only was it completely crazy and off the wall, but it had great gameplay to back it up and support itself which also spawned a few revisions and a sequel. Its been far too long since anything as odd as Earthworm Jim has been enjoyed by gamers and it may not be a true sequel, but Earthworm Jim HD is a complete remake of the original game that we grew to love. Its superbly polished graphics and new features are going to make it an easy sell to most people that loved the original as much as I did.

So lets start off with the whole story behind Earthworm Jim shall we and try to follow along. The evil Psy-Crow was in space attacking a rebel spaceship that had a stolen secret Ultra Cyber Suit that was built by Professor Monkey-For-A-Head. Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-For-A-Butt wants this suit to take over the galaxy but with Psy-Crows fight with the ship, the suit fell to Earth.

Jim used to be an ordinary earthworm doing ordinary earthworm things, but that was until the super suit fell directly on Jim collar first. This mutated Jim into a super large worm that fit in the suit and made him more intelligent (for a worm I guess), thus the hero of Earthworm Jim that weve come to love.

There are plenty more out-there characters such as Major Mucus, Evil the Cat, Bob the Killer Goldfish and Princess Whats-Her-Name among others to play out a story though its not ever really apparent why. Earthworm Jim wasnt mean to be a huge narrative story; its simply a classic platformer with a uniquely bizarre story. Jim uses his gun to shoot in almost any direction, use his head to reach and whip enemies and to also even swing on hooks. As the game progresses the difficulty ramps up quite significantly which is what an Earthworm Jim game was known for; its unrelenting difficulty.

Between levels youll play a somewhat 3D race called Andy Asteroids that has you going one and one against Psy-Crow to beat him to the finish. The more bonus orbs you pick up, the more continues or extra lives you can attain. If Psy-Crow wins though, you might fight him Crow vs Worm in a battle to progress.

Most levels will be like a classic platforming game where you have to jump from ledge to ledge while shooting everything, but there are some quite unique levels as well such as the one where you need to make sure your puppy makes it to the end of the level without getting hurt or falling in a pit. If Pete gets hurt he turns into a giant dog and will drag you back to the last checkpoint. Its a whole level of trial and error and will be very frustrating, but its still got he humor to make you enjoy it at the same time.

There are also interesting boss fights as well such as the bungie cord fight with Major Mucus in where you both keep falling and rising on your bungee (his is his snot and you just have your head stretched) and the goal is to slam him into the rocks to break his cord to make him fall into the infested waters below.

Every level is very different from the last and makes it refreshing and not so repetitive that usually happens with more platformers. The greatest thing that they kept in place though from the original (other than the much better HD graphics of course) is that the original music created by Tommy Tallarico is still in tact and will make you reminisce and remember when you used to play it a decade ago.

So whats new in Earthworm Jim HD other than its redrawn visuals? Surprisingly quite a lot; I was really only expecting the graphic update (which would have been enough for me to buy it anyways) but was pleasantly surprised when I saw all the new features.

First off is the inclusion of difficulty levels; originally Earthworm Jim had only the default setting (which was quite hard) but now difficultly can range from easy to original Earthworm Jim which will be a great feature for people new to the series.

If you bought Earthworm Jim for Sega CD or the PC back in the day, it included an additional level called Big Bruty; this level is now included in this HD remake among completely new levels to unlock as you go. These new levels are very refreshing to those like me who have played the game countless times over and completely fit with the style and humor.

Leaderboards is also a new inclusion that will track completion time, defeated enemies, and more. Its interesting to see how you score up against the rest of the community and how quickly levels can actually be finished.

Easily the greatest new addition to the game though Ive saved for last and completely did not expect it. Co-op levels; thats right, four Jims that need to work together in completely new co-op based levels. Sometimes doors need one player to hold it open as the next goes through and lets the other player in or even enemies that are much easier to defeat now with two players. Surprisingly it works very well and was quite entertaining to see two Jims helping each other.

As you can see, this isnt like most HD remakes that simply up the graphics and adds a leaderboard; quite a lot of attention and care has gone into making Earthworm Jim HD a gem for us fans that remember it in its glory days.

Though it may be just as difficult and frustrating as the original, theres more new stuff here for those of us that think weve seen it all. If youve never played Earthworm Jim, definitely open your mind and have a sense of humor and try this title out as it contains some of the better gaming memories (and I loved the cartoon!) I have from the 90s. If youre an old Earthworm Jim vet like myself, pick it up again if only to appreciate for its much sharper visuals and enjoy the nostalgia; hopefully youll find enough new features and levels to make some new memories with Jim as well.

Overall: 8.7 / 10
Gameplay: 8.9 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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