What can I say about Earthworm Jim 2? Well I was asked to do an SNES review for this week since it’s the 20th anniversary of the SNES and this was the first game that came to my mind. I had been planning on eventually getting to the SNES in my reviews. Now this game probably isn’t in my 10 top SNES game. That’s not because it’s bad either. It’s a really great game and I love it. There are just better more famous examples of great games on the SNES that I would rank higher if I were to give someone a list.
Earthworm Jim 2 has a special place for me though. You see I got my SNES late and had it for a couple of years into the Playstation/N64 generation before I “upgraded”. This game was one of my last memorable rentals (I never owned it in the past). Sure I had rented and owned some great games for the SNES; Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, and Street Fighter II Turbo to name a few). However none of them came as close to the sheer epic hilarity that oozed from every moment of Earthworm Jim 2.
What do I mean by “epic hilarity”? Well to understand that you have to understand some of the basic concepts of Earthworm Jim 2. You play as a large earthworm that has accidentally obtained an advanced robotic suit (in the first game, which I have less experience with unfortunately) and uses it to try and woo (or save) Princess What’s Her Name (no I didn’t forget her name). You explore alien worlds via the levels and pretty much nothing is supposed to make sense. From the geography to the inhabitants things are in place to either just be funny or to be creative and interesting. Three things that Earthworm Jim 2 excels at.
So this game left a huge impact on me precisely because of how creative and fun it is to play. There are some low points about the game that I will get into but as a whole it is a great game that is worth picking up and playing from time to time. Some levels can be pretty challenging (especially for new players). One particular level that even now still irritates me is the fifth level which happens to be a flying stage with the most annoying obstacles ever devised (I’ll get into that more later though).
So if you have never experienced the game or if you haven’t played it in a while. Buckle your safety belts, hold onto your cows, and prepare for an awesome trip to Earthworm Jim 2.
Earthworm Jim: This is the titular hero. An earthworm that operates a humanoid suit (with three fingered hands, plus thumb). He wants to woo the humanoid bee damsel in distress Princess What’s Her Name. Very little luck in that regard.
Princess What’s Her Name: Very little is known or understood about her. She seems hardly interested in Jim and spends most of the time (in both games) captured by the main villain. She has a snooty persona by appearances. Appears to be a humanoid bee.
Psy-crow: This is the main villain of Earthworm Jim 2. He’s just a henchman sent to retrieve the suit that Jim gets in the first game. In this game though he steals Princess What’s Her Name away during the opening scene of the game (literally). You encounter him a few of times during the game prior to the last level (all three levels you encounter him in are basically the same level). He’s a crow in a generic spacesuit.
Peter the Dog: Was Peter the Puppy in the first game. Whenever he is hurt he turns into a vicious beast that hurts Jim a good deal. You encounter him in a set of three levels where you have to save his puppies from squishy doom at the hands of Psy-crow. If enough of them die he will turn into a vicious beast and deal a good amount of damage to Jim.
Snott: This living ball of slime is Jim’s sidekick throughout the game. He rides in a pack on Jim’s back and can be used as a parachute (for a slow even decent) or to swing from slime covered ceilings. He apparently is the one who stole the suit in the first game. He is from an alien species known as “Goopers”.
Controls: All the buttons on the SNES controller are in use for this game. B jumps (which can be unnatural to get used to). A whips Jim’s head and real body (not the suit) at enemies like…well a whip. Y shoots when on the ground (and you can aim in 8 directions) and brings out your parachute when you are in the air (for a slow fall). X cycles through your available weapons.
Level Design: The levels in this game are mostly actiony side-scroller variety. However there is a good deal of breaking from the norm in every level as well as levels that do not play like a typical side-scroller at all. The level design for every level is unique and interesting with a variety of themes. The only level theme that gets reused is actually one of my favorite levels. So I can’t fault them for that.
Powerups: You have standard extra lives (in the shape of Jim’s head), extra continues (collect a set of three flags with an Earth, a worm, and Jim on them), and health upgrades. There are also weapons to pick up all with various uses (or no use as for the Bubble Gun) and damage (or no damage for the Bubble Gun). Lastly there are worms to be picked up in some levels to be used in bonus games where you can win the other standard powerups.
Music/Sound: The music of this game is great. Original tunes are found throughout but there are also classical music tracks for particular levels that are extremely fitting (such as Moonlight Sonata for the fourth level of the game). The sound of the game is great as well with a lot of digitized voice work for Jim (nothing too fancy, but nothing bad or annoying) as well as various sound effects for everything in the game. All top notch and a pleasant addition to the experience just like they should be.
Graphics: This game is at the top end of the SNES graphics capabilities in my opinion. It’s not polygonal (Star Fox) or extremely pre-rendered (like Donkey Kong Country) but it is very well done. The animation for the movement of everything in the game is well done. There are a lot of interesting details in the foreground and background. To top it all off its creative design for all the art is very inspiring to the eyes. It’s a beautiful game all in all.
Level One – Anything but Tangerines
The first level of the game is named “Anything but Tangerines” which has never made sense to me. Other level names of the game are puns or have some sort of meaning I can understand from reading them but not this one. Maybe I just haven’t figured it out. Though every level name tends to be bizarre even if they do have a discernible meaning to them.
This level is a classic example of an action platformer. You run from left to right or right to left as you explore the level, gather powerups, and seek the finish. There are interesting things to do in the level regardless of how similar the general progression is to other platformers.
The level appears to be set on an alien planet for the most part but follows the general rules of Earthworm Jim (no rules) and breaks design whenever it decides to. You wander around a mostly desolate craggy world to find random pig sties. You proceed further to find electric rail chairs to go up flights of stairs while avoiding falling old ladies. You wipe out dogs that attempt to attack you with bowling balls by dropping junk on them. You shoot shotgun totting aliens that fly around while wearing propeller hats.
Once you make it to the end of the level you have the most epic boss fight imaginable. I can’t even describe it. You have to see it for yourself…