Review | Earthworm Jim HD
Format: Xbox 360 | Genre: Platformer | Publisher: Xbox Live Arcade | Developer: Gameloft | Release Date: 09/06/10 | Price: £6.80 (800 MS points)
The grooviest worm in the cosmos returns in EARTHWORM JIM HD, and Greg Giddens tags along for the ride.
HD RE-RELEASES are nothing new nowadays, and with how popular Earthworm Jim was back on the Sega Megadrive, it’s no surprise to see it revived with crisp visuals and a few additions. What is surprising however is how well the design has aged, and it’s extremely refreshing to see a revived title not have to trade too heavily on its sense of nostalgia.
Other than the visuals, not much has changed with this classic. The intelligently designed levels – with often nonsensical transitions between them – are just as varied and enjoyable as you remember, and the downright crazy enemies and bosses are just as wonderfully unique andderangednow as they were back in 1994. The same hidden narrative bubbles below the surface, regarding a robotic super suit falling on an unsuspecting worm, granting him super powers so he may save the princess from the delightfully named “Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt”, and the original “run and gun” platformer mechanics remain unchanged, including – rather unfortunately – only an 8 point directional aiming control rather than full 360 degrees.
As good as you remember
A sense of nostalgia is inevitably present but, thanks to Earthworm Jim’s uniqueness and solid platforming experience, at no point is nostalgia required for it to be enjoyed. Improved visuals are all it takes – and indeed all that’s really present in the singleplayer aspect – to make this classic title stand tall even by today’s standards. A few extras have been added here and there to keep the title relevant, such as online score leaderboards and three separate new levels to explore, complete with new bosses, but ultimately it’s the same singleplayer game with all the same charms and, unfortunately, the same few issues.
Fortunately, however, the problems are minor. The asteroid racing levels repeat themselves a little too often and at times the challenge titters on the edge of infuriating, but it doesn’t prevent you from coming back for more – no matter how often you die – which is a testament to the unique sense of fun Earthworm Jim exudes.
One aspect that is entirely new is the multiplayer. Sporting an array of new levels based on the singleplayer originals, you up to 3 friends can set out to complete basic puzzles in order to progress to the next. It’s a terrific addition on similar standing with ‘Splosion Mans multiplayerexperience, held back only slightly by the brevity of the levels.
Earthworm Jim is a surreal and quite magical experience. The lack of 360 degree aiming is certainly its worst offense and the challenge can be severe, but it’s mostly forgivable, if only for respect for the integrity of the original. The additional content adds modern elements of significant worth; however, the singleplayer remains the star of the show. Its vast variety of levels and enemies remain some of the most bazaar and spectacular you’ll see, and makes one thing abundantly clear, they simply don’t make games like this anymore and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.