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Earthworm Jim HD – The PS3 Attitude Review

Submitted by on Friday, 3 September 20107 Comments

Earthworm Jim HD is an updated and enhanced port of the 1994 classic. This isn’t just a prettied up version of a 16 year old game. New to Earthworm Jim HD is a four-player multiplayer mode and three additional stages not found in the original title.

With gameplay mechanics that have remained untouched for well over a decade, has Earthworm Jim aged gracefully or is he just not as groovy as we remember?

I was barely eight years old when I first played Earthworm Jim on the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive.  I absolutely loved the game and had every toy and watched the television series nonstop. When I learned that Gameloft was giving Earthworm Jim the HD treatment, saying that I got excited would be an understatement.

Playing through the game now though has made me realize that Earthworm Jim makes no sense.  The level order follows no sort of logical progression whatsoever. The most extreme example of this happens right at the beginning. You’ll go from being in a junkyard one moment to being in hell the next. That’s not to say that variety is bad, but it sometimes feels like you’re playing through stages at random. The only consistent part of the game are the races against Psy-Crow between each level. These battles get old very fast and are too frequent.

The story is very simple and straight to the point. A suit from outer space crashes into an earthworm after an epic battle against a crow. The muscular suit somehow turns Jim into an oversized super worm with the ability to talk. Equipped with a gun and a human-like body, Earthworm Jim decides that he should rescue a princess. It’s ridiculous but that’s part of the charm. The level select screen can provide some context to the story but don’t even bother. It’s not worth it.

The gameplay is exactly the same as the original. This could be problematic if you don’t like arbitrary limits. For instance, you can’t run and gun or even shoot while in the air. When combined with the suit, Jim can whip himself onto hooks and use his face to attack enemies. For whatever reason, the trusty head-whip can only be aimed while standing. If you’re in the air, it’s locked at a 45 degree angle. I was never frustrated by the lack of control but it does get annoying. You’ll end up missing a lot of your targets because of this limitation.

Gameloft did a magnificent job updating the graphics. Everything stands out more and gives Earthworm Jim that cartoony look the game always deserved. There’s never a dull moment thanks to the weird and random nature of the environments and enemies. The soundtrack was also faithfully remastered and it sounds great. Jim’s voice, however, is not always consistent. It’s actually a bit distracting since Jim only has a few one-liners.

New to Earthworm Jim HD is the option to play through multiple difficult modes. The default difficulty is pretty much a joke. You’ll be able to breeze through any boss battle since they don’t take as long to defeat and they barely dish out any threatening attacks. The original difficulty is ideal for anyone looking for an oldschool challenge with a dose of cheapness thrown into the mix. Be prepared for a brutal, yet fun, escort mission.

This version of Earthworm Jim features three exclusive levels to unlock. The new stages are not included in the main game and have to be played through the Bonus Levels section of the main menu. While new levels are much appreciated, there isn’t anything particularly fun about them. The keyboard playing cat is more annoying than anything else and that’s just a shame. For each stage in the game, including the originals, there’s an online ranking system that keeps track of your best time and score.

Gameloft also added a multiplayer mode that supports up to four players locally or online. Each player takes control of Jim through a series of levels designed specifically for multiplayer. The gameplay remains unchanged for the most part but there are simple puzzles that require multiple characters to open up pathways. Since the four Jims are only differentiated by color, it can get a bit confusing when everyone is close together. Thankfully, the camera is zoomed out far enough to give players room to roam around.

Multiplayer is primarily a cooperative experience but it can be played competitively. Each player has a score attached to their name and a winner is chosen at the end of the level. Playing online is incredibly fun but there are some problems. Even though there are 15 stages to play through the mode will only last you about an hour. Even worse, there’s almost nobody online. This is rather unfortunate since the multiplayer is the best part of the game.

Earthworm Jim HD is a difficult game to recommend unless you’re already a fan. There are numerous gameplay limitations that can frustrate newcomers and even veterans that are familiar with the game. Certain sections of Earthworm Jim are notoriously difficult and this can ruin the experience for many. The multiplayer mode is easily the best addition but unless you have friends willing to join you, it’s pointless. A dead online community doesn’t help either. If you’re a long time fan of Earthworm Jim there is no reason why you shouldn’t get this game. It’s worth the price just for the nostalgia alone.

Earthworm Jim HD is now available on the PlayStation Network for $9.99/€9.99/£7.99.

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