Earthworm Jim is one of my favorite video game characters and game series of all time. I grew up playing the video games, watching the cartoon show, and playing with the action figures but these days, Jim is just a video game relic of the 90’s. There was a remake of the first game that was developed for download for the iPhone and some other platforms a year or two ago. Much to my excitement, I found the game for download on the 3DS last night and without hesitation I downloaded it. Waves of nostalgia wash over me as I started playing this bad boy… But… This isn’t exactly the same.
First of all, this isn’t going to be a full review or anything. This is mostly a comparing of the new and old versions. Secondly, I grew up playing the SNES version. This game is more of a remake of the Sega Genesis version. The music, level backgrounds, and inclusion of the level Intestinal Distress (which wasn’t in the SNES version) are proof of that. While I’ll probably hold the SNES version of EWJ as my favorite version of the game, that’s beside the point. I want to look at the key differences in gameplay.
Since I’m playing on the 3DS, there are two screens. The top screen is where all the game play happens while the bottom screen has a level progress bar, which isn’t really necessary but I guess it’s helpful, and you got all the menus and what not down there. The controls are just as responsive as the original console versions for the most part but the whip feels a little less accurate… It’s hard to explain but it just seemed harder to use it in mid air to swing or hit enemies. I used to be able to beat the game using only the whip until reaching the last boss. Not this time. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t played it in so long but the core of the gameplay is still intact. There are also these new mini games in the levels that make use of the 3DS camera technology where you have to make the same face as Jim. You do it right and you get a bunch of items. It’s silly and not explained very well. I didn’t really figure out how to use it till the last level.
The graphics are nice. They took the original and updated the colors, sprites, and levels to make them more smooth and colorful. However, at times the animation of Jim and other character is not nearly as smoothly animated as they were in the original SNES and Sega games. I experienced a lot of slowdown in certain spots in various levels. The music is redone and it’s done well but the music is remade of is from the Sega version. Personally, I liked the SNES soundtrack way better but that’s just my opinion. Some of the sound effects are different but not out of place. Jim’s voice is different but it still works. He makes some new pain noises when he gets hurt that made me giggle.
One major change that bugged me is that there are prompts that appear on the bottom screen at every single boss, mini-stage, and other events in the game explaining what to do. None of that was in the original game. I didn’t need a prompt to tell me how to beat Chuck in the first level or how to beat Evil the Cat back in 1994. It’s just a sign of the times; after all, games these days are full of prompts that pop up to tell you how to play the game and hold your hand through it. Gamers these days… There are also arrows hanging around through all the levels telling you where to go which most of the time is to the right. Once again, something that is unnecessary but it is actually rather helpful in the submarine part the Tube Race level. God, I hate that level.
Last thing I’ll say about the game is that is still has the same difficulty. It was a hard bastard back in the 90’s and it’s still a hard game today even if it has been remade with many of the same conventions of today’s games. A lot of these are minor changes but they do start to add up. Still, it holds a lot of nostalgia for me and it’s a steal at only $5 so I do strongly recommend it if you have a 3DS. However, if you’re lucky enough to still have an SNES or Genesis and still have EWJ, I stick with the consoles versions. But it is nice to see that they are trying to keep Earthworm Jim relevant with this game. If there is any game franchise that needs to see a reboot with love and affection it is Earthworm Jim.