Genre: Platformer Developer: Shiny Ent. Publisher: Playmates Players: 1 Released: 1996
The first Earthworm Jim game was great and some people feel that the sequel did a good job in surpassing it. Well it did, in almost every category. Shiny gave this game even more cartoony appeal, made the stages longer, and added lots to the fun. The different assortments of weapons were a big change, although some things should have been left alone, like the special stage and head whip swing; these have all been replaced. On first inspection, I liked EWJ and as I delved deeper and realized what I had bought into, I found it to be a not just a good game, but one much better than the original.
Taking place soon after the events of the original game, Jim finally met the princess and fell in love with her. He tried everything to woo her but she wasn’t interested in our wormy hero even though he did save her life. The evil Psycrow realized that with the Queen dead, Princess What’s-Her-Name? would become the next queen. He decided to kidnap her and run away to a Las Vegas-type planet to marry her, so he would be king of the Galaxy. Jim hears of this plan and of course decides to thwart his scheme.
Still only a single player game, there is now thankfully a password feature, which is a welcome addition. It is stranger than any that I have experienced in that you have to find 3 flags, each flag being a part of Jim’s name (Earth, Worm, and Jim). If you find them and you accidentally reset you can skip the stage or try and find every flag for every level.
Jim looks kind of goofy in this version. He used to stand still and look tough in the original but this time he sort of runs in place and looks highly energetic (Red Bull maybe?). Although he seems a bit smaller, he is still very detailed, and the little face icon on the top of the screen goes through all sorts of different facial expressions as events happen and Jim takes damage. The backgrounds have undegone the biggest change, as everything is now highly detailed and looks great. The enemies also look stranger and more detailed than last time. The graphics as a whole do an outstanding job to live up what was expected by fans of the series. All of the original characters make their return, which is a good thing. The princess, Peter Puppy (Jim’s lovable friend and side kick), and a few new faces round out the wacky cast of characters that have made the EWJ universe so appealing.
Jim now has a huge arsenal of weapons such as: standard shots, mega standard shots, huge shots, homing missiles, a bubble gun, and others. Some of them are great to use and highly effective, especially the mega guns.
The music has greatly improved over the original. Some great tunes play throughout the game, including some redone versions of classics like the rendition of Moonlight Sonata in the “Blind Cave Sally” Stage. The songs in the initial stages remind me of the original Jim’s music but the later ones are truly great, and sound quite close to the SNES version. The sound FX are even better in part two, like Jim’s voice, enemies sounds, and gunshots all sounded quite authentic and clear, doing a great job maintaining Jim’s goofy atmosphere.
The levels have stepped up some and are now huge, like “Level Ate” where the background is a grill with hamburgers on it and you have to jump on eggs, and kill flying forks and bendie straws. The bonus stage is has been changed as well. Psycrow is stealing all of Peter Puppy’s puppies and you have to bounce each pup off of a pillow back into Peter’s home; if you miss too many Peter turns into a huge monster and chews you up. All of this was fun but my only gripe about the level design is that there should have been more bosses. In most levels, once you reach the end, that’s it. There is nothing to do; even the last stage doesn’t have a boss. The difficulty is adjustable, but is still overall easier than the previous version.
Earthworm Jim 2 is quite a good game and I enjoyed it much more than the original. It holds its own as one of the better Genesis games even to this day. My only complaints are the lack of a 2-player mode and the shortage of bosses (which spoiled some of the game for me). It was kind of boring making it to the end of the stage and finding no hard boss to fight. I guess this one was simply geared towards a younger audience. The replay value is particularly low because of the fact that there isn’t anything to do after you beat it, except play again, and you might not want to after you’ve seen everything a few times. To its credit, the fun factor is high and with all the gadgets to try out and some very fun stages (like the game show level), your interest will be maintained throughout the game. If you played the original or enjoyed the cartoon then I highly suggest this one too.
SCORE: 9 out of 10