It’s a tough life. Having super powers, that is. Or, at least, super powers by earthworm standards, because by most other standards they would just be powers. And not very good ones, because they don’t do much to keep you alive. Earthworm Jim has a super-suit that makes him stronger, smarter, faster, more prone to explode, and did I mention there’s a pocket rocket in one of the suit’s pockets? Earthworm Jim is a very lucky worm, and you are a very unlucky gamer, because Earthworm Jim requires herculean effort to not die oh so very often.



Through a combination of random events and questionable life choices, Jim finds himself crawling through the universe’s most vicious junkyard, the very special heck populated by lawyers, a hamster maze at the bottom of the ocean, on the end of a bungee rope while being savaged by a sentient ball of snot and also Level 5, which is the fifth level of the game. You shoot your plasma gun and jump around the scenery and, when you feel like, press ‘B’ to see the super-suit clutch Jim by his head, yank him out of itself and viciously crack him like a fleshy whip.

Oh, hang on, I almost forgot. In the first ten seconds of play you’re presented with a cow standing on the end of a plank. Hit the dangling refrigerator to drop it on the other end, and goodbye cow. You’ll see it flying daintily through the air at certain points in the game. It’s basically the most plotting you’ll ever see within Earthworm Jim.

There’s a definite sadistic bent to Shiny’s debut here. The delicate curves of your Mega Drive pad will be squeezed to a point far past comfort many, many times. Every time the game is booted up, the room will fill with thick deafening clouds of silent fury as you determinedly chew your bottom lip off. Still, you’re in the presence of master torturers, who know just the right amount of pressure to apply short of causing you to pass out from the pain. Cartoon yelps and honks soothe the seething rage, continues are strewn generously throughout the levels and there’s the unshakeable doubt upon every death that it was somehow your fault – how could it be the game’s fault? The controls are sharp as knives, responsive and slick. No mistimed jumps or awkward dodges round these parts.

And then there’s Jim. Darling, sweet Jim, dearest of all my friends. The joke’s on him, too. He’s there with you, every step of the way, your unbreakable buddy, who’s really the one suffering. His suit explodes with his squishy wriggly self still inside at the merest suggestion of danger, and there’s certainly enough of that to go around. His emotive cartoon expressions are golden, providing a comical counter-point to your frustrations. He squeals and snarls and howls in abject terror as the elements of nightmares bombard him, and I don’t care how I should be judged, I love that little blob of wormy pixels. I want to rush outside and flop down on the garden in the hope that there’s something out there with Jim-like qualities about it.


It all ends well, though. You and Jim sail on into the metaphorical sunset, riding a wave of interstellar justice. After so many levels of hurt, the final boss fight is Shiny’s farewell present, handed over with a big sloppy wet kiss. You become the sadist, the one with the power, because it’s just so damned easy. Through the last five minutes of play Jim stuffs enough plasma pellets in his suit pockets to carry out a small, incredibly fun war somewhere in the third world, mounts a platform and slowly rotates around a big, repulsive slug, pumping untold numbers of rounds into her engorged butt until the fat, ugly bitch bursts in a suppurating mess of gloop. High fives and skydives all round.

Now, I wonder what happened to that cow.

Earthworm Jim was created by Doug TenNapel.
Sprites are from Lemm's (really good) Jim fansite.

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