Earthworm Jim

aka: EWJ
SNES Specs [ all ]
(prices updated 9/21 8:45 PM )

Description official descriptions

A crow is chasing a worm named Jim, while in outer space Psy-Crow is chasing a renegade ship. The ship's captain has stolen an ultra-high-tech-indestructible-super-space-cyber-suit and Queen Slug-for-a-Butt has ordered Psy-Crow to get it, since it can make her more beautiful than Princess-What's-Her-Name. Psy-Crow blasts the captain and the suit falls to Planet Earth.

Back on Earth, Jim wonders if he is finally safe when an ultra-high-tech-indestructible-super-space-cyber-suit lands on him. Luckily Jim rests in the neck ring of the suit. The space particles then begin interacting with Jim, causing a light-speed evolution. Jim soon realizes he is in control of the suit.

Jim overhears the Queen's plans for the suit and decides to meet this Princess...

Earthworm Jim is a 2D side-scrolling platformer with action elements where the player takes control of Jim, a worm wearing a spacesuit. Jim can shoot enemies with his gun or use his body (the spacesuit's "head") in a variety of ways to overcome obstacles, such as whipping it at enemies, grappling hooks to swing from them, or making it spin very fast like a rotor to hover for a short time.

While most of the game is made of standard platforming levels with a boss waiting at the end, some of the levels introduce different conditions than just reaching the end to complete them, like escorting a computer-controlled character and making sure they don't get hurt. Platforming levels are interspersed with some variations in gameplay as well, such as several space racing sequences or a bungie-jumping competition.

Spellings

  • アースワームジム - Japanese spelling

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Credits (SNES version)

34 People (23 developers, 11 thanks) · View all

Programming
Additional Programming
Original Concept
Level Design
Animation Director
Animators
Art Director
Lead Artist
Ink & Paint
Clean Up
Additional Artwork
Music
Sound Effects
Designed by
  • Shiny Entertainment
Produced by
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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 82% (based on 62 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 202 ratings with 3 reviews)

The original and undoubtedly the best version of Earthworm Jim.

The Good
Earthworm Jim is without a doubt one of the marvels of the 16 Bit era of gaming. It's a wacky ride, full of imagination, clever level design and rock solid gameplay.

The game really holds its own in a genre flooded with generic Mario and Sonic clones by offering something distinctly unique, in so far that it is completely insane. There is no real coherence to the way the levels play out, they simply come one after another in a cavalcade of inspired insanity. You go from an alien junkyard, to hell and then underwater and into the dark underworld of an alien overlord.

Jim himself is an Earthworm, in a super suit, that falls on him. That is essentially the entire story. Princess Whats-her-name gets captured by Jim's arch nemesis Psy-Crow, of whom he doesn't even know and has never met before. Being an worm Jim has some interesting little moves in his repertoire. He can use himself as a lasso, swinging from hooks while he also has the ability to grab ledges and haul himself up. He controls a little loosely, takes some time to get used to, but you do get used to him and when you do it's hard to go back to more basic platformers. Jim can use himself as a whip and also has his trusty, modifiable Blaster to defend himself with. The Blaster never runs out of ammunition but does need to charge up when the ammo runs under 100%

Earthworm Jim looks beautiful. The game is made up of totally fragmented levels, designed differently from one another. This however, is not to the games detriment. This freshness of level design, the unpredictability of it all lends to it feeling fresh and exciting every single time. The levels are detailed and beautiful, with color being employed to imitate shadow and there are even some digitized images employed to further the eye candy present. Jim himself animates fantastically, with something like over 100 frames of animation.

The music in Earthworm Jim is composed by Tommy Tallarico and his genius shines throughout the whole experience. From the rock inspired New Junk City to the hilarious combination of Dantes Inferno and elevator music there is nothing but freshness.

The Bad
Jim himself feels a little loose now and then. Occasionally you might miss or mistime jumps from between platforms or you might slip in between a wall and fall down to a previously traversed area. This isn't always a problem, but it is a problem non the less.

The game is quite short, if you know what you're doing it can all be over in around an hour.

The Bottom Line
Earthworm Jim is a shining example of why games in the 90's were superior to what we have now. The clever, intelligent level design that doesn't, at first seem intelligent but rather incoherent begins to find its own sense of coherency. It's a really inspired exercise that is the sum of the genius level design, fantastic sound design and fluid gameplay. There's very little wrong with this game, it's an exercise in pure hedonistic gameplay nirvana.

Genesis · by AkibaTechno (238) · 2010

Groovy! Groovy! Groo-gr-gr-gr-groo-gr-gr-groovy!

The Good
When I was a kid, I loved Earthworm Jim. Not just the game, but the character and even the franchise. I remember getting excited the first time I saw the television series advertised on Kids WB and I recorded it every weekend. I had Earthworm Jim action figures. I even wrote a fan letter to Shiny asking if they were going to make a sequel and they wrote back, those great guys. I had Earthworm Jim posters and drawings on my wall that stayed up until my mom took them down when I left for college. I guess what I’m trying to say is; you should keep in mind that this review might be a little biased due to nostalgia. However, I will, as always, try and keep it as objective as possible.

Earthworm Jim is the story of a common earthworm that one day finds himself mutated by a super-suit. His first instinct is, of course, to travel the galaxy and kill the person who had the suit made, Queen Slug For A Butt, and rescue her hot twin sister, Princess-What’s-Her-Name. There’s no way of knowing the story if you don’t have the instruction booklet. There are no cutscenes or even any text-scrolls to let you know what’s going on. Really, though, there doesn’t have to be. Jim is an endearing character based off his weirdness alone. Plus, there’s no way to tie all the levels together, so just go with it.

Most of the game is a standard run-and-gun platformer. The levels twist and turn but there are never really any puzzles to figure out, so it’s all action. However, Earthworm Jim has a habit of mixing things up. Between levels you race Psycrow through space in sections called “Andy Asteroids”. Later, you have to pilot a fragile submarine through an underwater maze. There’s one level in which you have to defeat a boss by bashing him against a wall while bungee jumping. Most of the time, however, you simply have to get from point A to point B while shooting anything that gets in the way. Aside from your normal blaster, you can also use Jim’s head as a bullwhip to attack enemies or swing on hooks like Indiana Jones. If I hear anyone make the joke “use your head – literally” one more time, I’m going to punch the nearest convenient person.

Most of the art in Earthworm Jim was hand drawn, which was pretty rare for a game at the time. I remember Shiny using all sorts of buzzwords to describe their animation technique. Animotion, I think they called it. Basically they would draw everything out on cels and then scan them into a computer. Everything has a very clean and exaggerated look to it. The animations are absolutely astounding. The backgrounds are also very detailed and interesting. Instead of everything looking flat, the ground and ceilings had curves and twists to them. The result is some of the best graphics on the Super Nintendo.

The music is completely nuts. It ranges from heavy bassy songs to a really memorable banjo hootenanny that plays over the Andy Asteroid stages. The second level’s music is really amusing. It plays “Night on Bald Mountain” for a while before suddenly switching to elevator music accompanied by tortured screams. Outstanding! The sound effects are fairly decent, as well. The game makes heavy use of sound and voice clips, something that was quite rare on consoles at the time. The voice work on Jim is especially impressive, as it gives him more personality than most of the other video game characters at the time. It’s much easier to relate to a character who can actually talk as opposed to one that communicates entirely through abstract sound effects.

The Bad
The overall challenge in Earthworm Jim is manageable, but frustration can quickly mount in the later stages. I’d like to reiterate that there is a difference between a game that is difficult and a game that is frustrating. For the first few levels, things are where they should be. Enemies whittle away at your health and you’re often required to make precise leaps. However, the last two levels introduce pester and insta-kill enemies. Enemies who can kill you instantly are, as far as I’m concerned, a sin in game design. Environmental hazards that kill you on contact are one thing, but when an enemy can ignore your health bar and kill you outright, then the game’s no longer playing by the rules.

The most annoying level in the entire game is, without a doubt, level 6: “For Pete’s Sake”. In this level you must help your adorable puppy buddy get to his home located on the most dangerous planet in the universe. To do so, you must whip him so he jumps over hazards, and also clear out any enemies in front of him. If he gets hurt, he attacks you and drags you back to the last checkpoint. It’s a fun and creative idea, but the enemies in this level are ridiculously annoying. There’s a flying saucer that will stun you and hold you in place for, like, a year while you watch helplessly as Peter walks off a cliff. There are also these stupid tentacle plants that will flick you off the side of a cliff whenever you get near them. Augh! I hate them so much! To make things even more ridiculous, the game actually gives you the option of extending the level! Oh god, no!

To further complicate things, there’s a finite number of continues. The only way you can earn more is by collecting enough fuel pods on the Andy Asteroid levels. I’m not sure why they chose to limit continues as it would still be a challenging game regardless. What really sucks, though, is the lack of a password or save system. That’s absolutely ridiculous, Earthworm Jim is a fairly lengthy game and it can be really vexing to play it in one sitting. When frustration mounts, the player should have the option to switch off the game and not lose all their progress. Having to sit down and play through the whole game just to get back to where you left off is extremely annoying.

The frustration isn’t helped by Jim’s somewhat questionable controls. It’s not that they’re weird or anything, they just seem unrefined. The whip is probably the biggest issue. It’s just too slow to be very useful in tense combat situations. It has quite a few frames to its animation, so the delay between pressing the button and the whip cracking is tremendous. It doesn’t help that the hit detection is sometimes questionable and that the animation can be interrupted. Another problem is with Jim’s propeller-head-copter hover-move-thing. You can hover for as long as you want but you have to keep tapping the B button to keep hovering. That’s a pain in the butt. Why can’t I just hold the button down? It isn’t like I’d gain some sort of cheap advantage since I can already hover as long as I want.

I think the game’s biggest problem is that, well, it just isn’t that great of a game. Yes, it has great music and graphics, it’s really charming, and the gameplay is solid enough. It’s just that there isn’t much to it. The gameplay itself doesn’t have any personality and is completely overshadowed by its lead character. There’s no real excitement or depth. All the boss battles are all very simple and boring. There are no hugely flashy and exciting memorable encounters. It’s a very standard game overall. Nothing sticks out behind the flash and pizzazz, it’s just flat.

The Bottom Line
Despite its flaws, Earthworm Jim is a game that will always have a special place in my collection. A lot of creativity, talent, and love went in to making this game and it shows. The graphics are impressive, the music is top notch, and Jim is a weird and endearing character. However, the game itself is somewhat ho-hum and can become extremely frustrating. It may be based entirely off the qualities of its character and technology, but I think Earthworm Jim is still a really GOOD game that you should check out.

I would like to note that there is a substantial difference between the Super Nintendo and Genesis versions. Both versions have their advantages and disadvantages and I think it’s a matter of preference. The Genesis version has more sound and voice samples as well as an extra level. On the other hand, the Super Nintendo has improved graphics and higher quality music. There are also notable differences in the actual levels and gameplay. There are more pick-ups in the Genesis version and there tends to be more hazards as well, but the extra level makes the Genny version a bit more difficult.

How much better are the SNES’ graphics? They’re a lot more colourful, but the biggest difference is in the backgrounds. The SNES takes advantage of multiple parallax layers that look spectacular, while all the Genesis backgrounds are merely two layers. This is most noticeable in the first and fifth stages. On the other hand, the Genesis version seems to have more animations in a lot of places. How much better is the SNES music? It’s hard to say, I’ve heard opinions of people who feel that the Genesis version’s music was actually better, despite its lower quality. The Genesis’ extra sound effects are quite noticeable. There are extra sound bites, screams, and even a sound for when you trigger a secret item. Is the Genesis version’s extra level worth it? Well, I’m not sure. It’s a solid level, but the boss is a pain in the butt. Yet having a level omitted makes the SNES version feel incomplete next to the Genesis.

Either way you go, Earthworm Jim is a solid game. There is also an enhanced Sega CD and Windows version which adds extra levels and animations, as well as “CD quality” music. Unfortunately, they also don’t have the Super Nintendo’s awesome parallax layered backgrounds. Also, the Windows version can only be played in windowed mode, which sucks balls. There is an HD update coming to current generation systems which you might want to look out for it you’re having trouble deciding. I personally feel that an update is unnecessary since it’s already a great looking game, but that’s probably just the retro gamer in me talking. My choice is the Super Nintendo version, but that might be influenced by the fact that it’s the one I had as a kid. Also, if you’re someone who played the Genesis version, you probably don’t get the reference I made in the headline.

SNES · by Adzuken (836) · 2010

¡THE BEST PLATFORM GAME AROUND THIS CRAZY WORLD!

The Good
A day as any other in a galaxy very very distant a strange muscular body without head falls of the sky to the Earth, on a worm of name jim... and there begins everything.In this game you take the roll of a Worm hero(yes,you listened well,an Worm hero)of name Jim..a worm that seems to have abused in excess of the steroid use(je,je..).

You will ask yourself that it has east game of platforms that makes so different from the others,well, i will say to you what has of different...absolutely all those of the game are seen and it feels different.You can attack your enemies with a machine gun..or with you own head!!!.Throughout the game you are been new types of arms,likes bubbles´s guns,house pistols that explodes,bugles(that the truth I do not know so that they serve) and all class of graceful arms totally ridiculous.The enemies of the game are of most graceful.Throughout this we will be with enemies like grandmas that fall of the sky and which they will strike with an umbrella, furious dogs with rage, crows, ants that load babies,a subject with larva disguise that goes mounted in a monocycle,etc.

Definitively I believe that with this game they will going to happen very amused awhile laughing with the amount of totally graceful things and ridiculous that the game offers to the experienced players,younger gamers,or for all ages.

Ah! forgot to me to say that all the game is not the same,there are scenes where Jim goes mounted in a rocket by the space and is necessary to go shooting to him to the enemies who watch to us in our adventure



The Bad
I do not have any complaint with respect to this wonder of game

The Bottom Line
If they have not played earthworm jim, have been living in another planet since they do not know what they are had been losing during all these years

SNES · by Lord of the game (6) · 2007

Trivia

1001 Video Games

The Mega Drive version of Earthworm Jim appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Ending

Finishing the game in the easy difficulty setting shows you a different ending that consists of a rather verbose scientific description of earthworms, as well as their habitats, mating customs, etc.

Reception

Earthworm Jim was the first game ever to receive a perfect score of 100% from the European gaming magazine Games Master.

References

The between-level races against Psycrow, called "Andy Asteroids", are most likely a reference to one of the game's programmers, Andy Astor.

TV series

Earthworm Jim inspired an animated TV series by the same name.

Version differences

The PC and Sega CD versions add among other things, a new weapon not included on the original 16-bit console versions: the seeker missile.

Awards

  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
  • March 1997 (Issue 92) - Side-Scrolling Game of the Year runner-up (multiplatform) (Readers' Choice)

  • FLUX

    • Issue #4 - #7 in the "Top 100 Video Games of All-Time" list
  • GameFan
    • 1994 (Vol.4, Iss.1) - Best Game of the Year
    • 1994 (Vol.4, Iss.1) - Best Overall Action/Platform Game of the Year
    • 1994 (Vol.4, Iss.1) - Best Genesis Action/Platform Game of the Year
    • 1994 (Vol.4, Iss.1) - Best Genesis Soundtrack
    • 1994 (Vol.4, Iss.1) - Best New Genesis Character
    • 1994 (Vol.4, Iss.1) - Best New SNES Character
  • Game Players
    • January 1995 - Best SNES Action Game in 1994
  • VideoGames
    • March 1995 - Best Genesis Game
    • March 1995 - Best Sound Effects

Information also contributed by Ben K, Big John WV, CaptainCanuck and Zovni

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Related Sites +

  • Earthworm Jim : TGSMA
    Contains various guides, history and information about Earthworm Jim and team behind the game.
  • Earthworm Jim Fan Page
    Game history, cast, pictures, sounds, fonts, and more.
  • Lemm's Earthworm Jim Fansite
    This site is an artistic tribute dedicated to the 1994 and 1996 original Earthworm Jim video games by Shiny Entertainment and the creator of the character, Doug TenNapel.
  • Robert's EWJ Site
    Fansite full of info. Probably the most complete site about the game

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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Casualty.

Game Boy, Game Gear added by Corn Popper. Windows, Linux, Macintosh added by Plok. Game Boy Advance added by Kartanym. Browser added by Sciere. SEGA Master System added by Freeman. Wii added by gamewarrior. Genesis, SNES added by Satoshi Kunsai. Antstream added by lights out party. DOS added by vedder.

Additional contributors: Timo Takalo, Jony Shahar, Alaka, gamewarrior, CaptainCanuck, Stuart Fraser, DarkDante, Solid Flamingo, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added January 9th, 2001. Last modified September 21st, 2023.