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
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

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
Queen Slug-for-a-Butt; Bottom – Earthworm Jim, Professor
Monkey-For-A-Head, Evil the Cat, Psycrow

Does it stand the test of
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.