When I was a young lad, I primarily played on the Sega Mega Drive. Normally, my brother would be the one to introduce new games to the house, but Earthworm Jim was the first game I remember buying on my own without outside interference. I’d read about it prior to release in Sonic the Comic, of all things. Here was a colourful platformer that came from Shiny Entertainment, the makers of a very good interpretation of Disney’s Aladdin.
It’s a bizarre game with some very confusing level design, but one with bags of character. One moment you’ll be running through the far reaches of hell fighting lawyers, while the music abruptly cuts from the imposing bit of “Night On Bald Mountain” to a symphony of lounge music and screams. The next minute you’ll be wandering around La Planeta de Agua (Arriba!) getting punched by giant kitty henchmen or perilously not bumping into things in a glass pod, before fighting the toughest boss you’ll ever face: Bob the Goldfish. He’s as intimidating as he sounds.
I also have Earthworm Jim to “thank” for the first escort mission I can remember – guiding a skipping puppy through a level where meteors and other such harmful things try to hurt him. If he is hurt, he’ll transform into a hideous monster and automatically latch onto Jim, not only damaging him a ton, but also sending him back to the beginning of that section of the level.
Did I regret my purchase? Absolutely not. Young me completed this handily, even navigating the almost impossible geometry of the final level. Older me finds even the perilous glass pod sections of the third level rather taxing.
Editor’s note: If you’re thinking of purchasing it today, there is something extra to consider in order to avoid regret of your own: Earthworm Jim’s creator Doug TenNapel has made repeated transphobic and homophobic remarks.