news\ Sep 27, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Earthworm Jim Sega Genesis / Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Earthworm Jim – Sega Genesis / Super Nintendo Entertainment System
By Dakota Grabowski

Earthworm Jim was the definition of cool

Back when platformers were the king of genres, Earthworm Jim made its presence known as the “cool kid on the block” by appealing to many demographics. Obtaining a moderately difficulty level and establishing itself with stylish humor, Earthworm Jim was a financial and critical success for Interplay and Shiny Entertainment.

What were its cultural impact and/or importance?
Before Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter, Conker, and even Crash Bandicoot, took the spotlight as the humorous and delightful platformer alternative to Mario, there was Earthworm Jim. Having a hilarious concept, a worm trapped in a magical spacesuit fighting against odd bosses, Shiny Entertainment rolled the dice and were successful.

Countering the dozens upon dozens of platformers that attempted to capitalize on Mario and Sonic’s success in the genre, Earthworm Jim was able to set itself apart from titles such as Bubsy, Gex and Bug! – all titles that proved to be irrelevant by the end of the decade. What Earthworm Jim had was a panache that all other 2D platformers dreamed of. While spoofing the genre’s best attributes, Earthworm Jim made a name for himself for comedic moments that adults could truly enjoy.

Showcasing that there was room for a third-party in the two-party system (Mario and Sonic), Earthworm Jim was popular enough to receive its own television show, merchandising, and a handful of sequel.  Without Jim and his flair for the funny, we may have never received Crash Bandicoot and several other platformers who took the slapstick route in the genre.

He’s Michael Jackson bad

What areas of gaming did it advance?
Without the humor, Earthworm Jim would be a desolate title that had nothing to set itself apart from the rest of the bunch. Whether it’s the Andy Asteroids portions – a race against villain Psycrow – to the fighting Bob the Killer Goldfish in a boss fight, Earthworm Jim is the clear cut head of the class when it comes to comedy.

The level designs were never extravagant, but what Shiny Entertainment did incorporate was exciting moments where Jim would face off against side-splitting joke enemies such as a snowman who spits fireballs, a cat with nine lives named Evil the Cat, and corrupt junkyard owner who spews dead fish. The last boss fight goes even further with the laughter as Jim must whip the butt of The Evil Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt, (Queen Slug-for-a-Butt for short) – no seriously, that’s her name – until she screams mercy.

In addition, there’s also Peter Puppy who aids Jim in fixing his Pocket Rocket in return. While Peter looks innocent on the outside, there’s a monster deep within that emerges when he is either hurt or scared.

There’s no doubt that the comedy was the driving factor and many of today’s platformers are heavily influenced by what Shiny Entertainment accomplished – whether they’d like to admit to it or not.

Meet the cast (from left to right) Top – Peter Puppy, Princess What’s-Her-Name,
Queen Slug-for-a-Butt; Bottom – Earthworm Jim, Professor Monkey-For-A-Head, Evil the Cat, Psycrow

Does it stand the test of time?
Even though the sequel is the best of the series, the original still is able to stand out on its own. The soundtrack from Tommy Tallarico is a testament to the amazing work that was done back in the 16-bit era. From beginning till the end, Tallarico’s work is a triumph. After multiple playthroughs, Earthworm Jim consistently provides enough charm to fill 10 Grand Canyons.

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