|Publisher: Playmates, Sega Channel Interplay (JP)|
|Developer: Shiny Entertainment|
|System(s): Sega Mega Drive, Sega Master System, Sega Game Gear, Virtual Console|
|Sound driver: GEMS|
Earthworm Jim (アースワームジム) is a platform video game developed by Shiny Entertainment in 1994 for the Sega Mega Drive. Highly praised at the time of release, Earthworm Jim offers very detailed and smooth graphics, a very well received soundtrack and large amounts of surreal humour and parodies of popular culture.
The player is the titular hero, a common garden earthworm who mutated into giant size when an alien super-suit fell from the sky and crashed on top of him. Jim quickly finds that while getting used to being able to jump (), shoot (), and fly with his Pocket Rocket, he's being eyed up by several villains for the suit..
Whipping () and shooting his way through the game's levels, Jim also has the ability to twirl his head around like a helicopter to slow his rate of descent, as well as being able to use his whip to not only shoot down enemies (including some impervious to his pistol), but to use with hooks to navigate to otherwise impossible to reach areas. Hunting around the levels can reveal Plasma Shots that add 1 extremely powerful shot to the pistol per Plasma found (up to 9 at once).
Earthworm Jim takes place over 7 main levels, plus 7 bonus segments between levels, a boss you can avoid if you're good enough and a hidden bonus level halfway through the game.
|The first level, New Junk City, is a giant rubbish dump. Tyres can be bounced over, ziplines hooked on to and conveyor belts climbed. Watch out for crows and Fifis - the crows will try to pull you out of the suit, damaging you in the process, while the Fifis try to rip you to shreds (though shooting them will gain you some health back). In the Mega CD version, there's an extra segment where Jim is suit-less and has to time jumps between platforms to reach the suit again. Shown here is the cow near the start of the level - whipping the fridge launches it into space, where it will fly past in the background in some levels, moo-ing in terror as it does so.|
|Level 1 first boss|
|The very first boss - this guy isn't too hard. He has two forms - the kart shown here, and a humanoid shape where he calls tubas down from the sky to fall on Jim's head. When he's driving around as the cart form, if he hits you, he'll go back up to full health.|
|Level 1 end boss|
|The first end of level boss (and planet mascot) of the game is Chuck - a magnet drops crates and tubas on you from above, while he sits on a zip line. Dodge the tubas (or whip them away), and whip the crate on to the spring while he's under it - but watch out for the resulting fish he starts throwing up. He can't be hit directly so only the crates will work.|
|Bonus stage 1|
|At the end of every level there's a transition racing level to the next planet, one of a steadily-growing harder set of stages called Andy Asteroids (named for Andy Aster, one of the game's programmers). Here, Jim has to race a giant bird in a spacesuit called Psy-Crow to the end of a tunnel, dodging asteroids and collecting blue orbs (collect 50 and you'll gain a continue) & shields (that deflect asteroids temporarily). Picking up the speed boosters (the orange icons in shot) will give Jim temporary invincibility and a short jump ahead in the race - getting these are later on the only way to win the stages. Psy-Crow will grab these if you let him after the first stage or so.|
|Bonus stage 2|
|Lost the race? Then you have to battle Psy-Crow, who will attack Jim with a fish-hook gun. Shoot him and when he's dazed, whip him to finish him off and start the next level proper.|
|Home to Evil the Cat, What The Heck? is the second level proper. Elevator music plays in the background (with the occasional scream of horror from the musak), demons are everywhere and you also need to dodge fire & brimstone - plus suitcase-wielding lawyers (Hell is full of them, after all). The Mega CD version has an expanded section of level just before the first boss.|
|Level 2 first boss|
|On the note of that first boss... a snowball's chance in Hell doesn't describe beating this giant snowman - all you need to do is shoot him and dodge the fireballs he belches at you.|
|Level 2 end boss|
|Fresh from throwing a bomb and trying to impale Jim on several rows of spikes, Evil the Cat has managed to get Jim's suit away from the worm and fires balls of flame at you from an oversized gun. However the shots melt the support for the platform he's standing on and it collapses, causing Evil to run away and Jim to reclaim the suit. From there it's just a case of shooting away his lives (9, naturally) and dodging the flames that come from the sides of the screen.|
|Named for Nick Bruty, one of the artists, Big Bruty is a level exclusive to the Mega CD version of the game. In this level you need to avoid giant bees while luring the planet's mascot around - get close enough to him for him to pick up your scent and chase you and Bruty will knock away obstacles impeding Jim's progress. Don't get too close to him though (or try and jump over him), or he'll quickly snap his jaws around Jim, eating him whole.|
|Here's Bruty himself. You don't actually fight him, making this one more of a puzzle level than the straightforward shooting of the last 2 levels.|
|Jim's next challenge following another Andy Asteroids is Down The Tubes, a water themed level consisting of rooms linked by tubes (some of which you travel down riding the back of a giant hamster that can eat all obstacles in its path, with Jim clinging on for dear life). Shown in shot is one of the two level mascots, No. 4 - these muscular cloned cats are all over the level acting as bodyguards for the main level mascot, who we'll get to in a bit. Touch one and they'll punch Jim so hard he'll go flying back and lose health in the process. The Mega CD version has a hidden spot that when touched, has a secret alternate Andy Asteroids level with no asteroids in and no Psy-Crow - just speed boosters, blue orbs and shields, that takes you straight to Snot A Problem without having to do the second half of the level.|
|This level is possibly best known for the second half (one of only 2 levels to have more than one title card displayed, not counting the multiple Andy Asteroid races; the other being Snot A Problem), which is mostly navigating one of the pods from the first half of the level around on a time limit with a lot of walls, some narrow sections, and not a lot of air refillers.|
|Finally, you've reached the end of the pod navigation sequence, and you come face to face with Bob the Goldfish. Somewhat of an anticlimax after the pod, you complete the level either with a single pistol shot, whipping Bob or simply walking into the bowl - all three knock it to the floor, where as he flops about, Jim hops on the Rocket and zooms off.|
|The next level is Snot A Problem - an interesting change in that not only are there 3 sub levels (each with a progressively more intelligent Major Mucus), but Jim has none of his normal weaponry available. Instead, Mucus must be defeated by ramming him against the sides of the level until his rope snaps, but he can do the same to you - and he has a spinning attack that will also wear Jim's rope down.|
|There's an added hazard for the second and third bouts - this monster at the bottom of the screen that for the first level just watches will actively try to eat Jim when he reaches the bottom of the chasm and the cord stretches out, snapping the rope (and Jim!) instantly.|
|The rather imaginatively titled Level 5 (which thanks to the inclusion of Big Bruty, is actually the sixth level on the Mega CD version) is a giant laboratory, home of Professor Monkey-For-A-Head (and his flipped personality, Monkey Professor-For-A-Head). Both will attack you as you progress through the level dodging leaping brains, flying eyeballs, giant cells, green blobs with eyes on a stalk that explode into a shower of maggots, and electrified ball platforms. Later in the level Jim gets separated from the suit and must navigate spiked platforms and fans to re-connect with it.|
|About halfway through Level 5, the player will come across this section with health leading away in an arc from a large black box with a red dot in the middle. This can be ignored with no repercussions but if Jim ignores the indicated route and jumps into the dot of light...|
|...he will enter a secret level entitled Who Turned Out The Lights?, that's played with Jim entirely in silhouette apart from his eyes, with the enemies in the level also only being visible by their eyes.|
|There are 5 sections to the level, all of which are fairly short - Jim transfers between them by running out of an exit door and into the next room.|
|In the 5th room, Jim will scream in terror at what's this level's mascot - a giant pair of eyes that will roar and chase him. Jumping over the eyes and running as fast as you can to the right, Jim will enter a point where 3 rays of light meet and be teleported back to the same point in Level 5 that he left, with all the items just as they were when he left it.|
|Level 6 Boss|
|The boss of Level 5 is a chicken in a mech suit - it lays eggs that roll towards you and explode, and flies over your head occasionally. It must be defeated by whipping the target when the chicken is below the drop chute, which will cause a giant cell to fall onto the chicken and hurt it.|
|Level 6 Boss|
|When the chicken has taken enough damage, it will shift to a second form, where it and Jim are in free-fall down an endless shaft. Here the method to kill it is simple - just shoot at it with the pistol. Dodge the bombs it drops and the feathers it sheds that explode, as well as the mecha-chicken itself, and eventually it will blow up, ending the level.|
|The next level proper is For Pete's Sake, which has Jim playing escort to a prancing Peter Puppy who is trying to get back to his house at the end of the level. There's a slight problem - if he gets hurt or falls off the main path, he transmogrifies into a demonic beast and grabs Jim in his mouth, flying backwards in the level until the last invisible checkpoint passed whereupon he spits Jim out and turns back into his normal self. Jim has to not only whip him over gaps and shoot down asteroid bombardments but must get Peter past cement mixers with electric sparks, shoot down flying saucers (that don't hurt Peter or Jim, but capture Jim for a few seconds which can be long enough for Peter to end up in trouble and transforming), and giant vines that grab Peter, squeezing him until he transforms and bursts them apart.|
|Eventually, Peter Puppy's house is in sight, but you have the option of whipping him over the house for a more difficult section of level if you want to. Either way, when Peter enters one of the houses, the level is over - there's no boss here.|
|The penultimate level is Intestinal Distress - Jim must tackle spikes, wind pipes, flying fish and balls of.... something.... to reach the end of the level.|
|The boss of the level is Doc Duodenum, who likes to jump around rapidly and spew material at you. Defeating him rewards you with one last Andy Asteroids before the final level.|
|Level 8 boss|
|Finally, Jim has reached Buttville. The first section sees Jim using his helicopter move to navigate a maze of thorns - it's short, but difficult, and this is only a taste of what's to come later on. When you reach the bottom, Jim teleports to the main section of the level.|
|Level 8 boss|
|In Buttville proper, Jim must avoid bugs that spew from nests, one-hit knock-out worms that jump in and out from the background (shown to the right of this shot), more thorns and creatures that spit electric sparks at you. Survive all of this, and you'll start to pass under a large segmented ceiling, which when you reach the end of it...|
|Level 8 boss|
|...is revealed to be the game's final boss (deep breath), Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-For-A-Butt. Standing on the green platforms that circle her and shooting her at the 3, 6, 9 and 12'o'clock positions is the best tactic here for finally defeating the evil queen and meeting her sister, Princess Whats-Her-Name (who clearly got the more attractive end of the gene pool, as Jim discovers). However, the rather bitter-sweet ending has one final surprise in store for the gallant earthworm...|
The screen is largely informational - only the last 4 options are changeable. The cheats themselves are fairly straightforward - Cheat Mode gives you infinite health, Freezeability changes the pause menu in such a way that the music keeps playing on pause and the screen doesn't darken (but does make it impossible to re-enter the cheat menu again, or to pause the game - the freeze effect only lasts as long as you're holding start), and Map View Mode makes Jim disappear at the start of the level, with the d-pad then letting the screen scroll around the level - pressing one of the A, B or C buttons makes Jim re-appear and the regular gameplay style resume.
Start On Level has several options, listed below:
One notable thing about this list (apart from the jumbled level order) is that there's no 6B slot - on Level 5, 6A is followed by 6D and then 6C, but the part of the level after the Naked Worm segment before the falling segment (i.e., the segment that ends with the first chicken boss) is not directly accessible, unlike every other area in the game.
With most of Shiny Entertainment originating from Virgin Interactive, Earthworm Jim was built using similar techniques to Cool Spot and Disney's Aladdin. Animations were drawn by hand and digitised into the game.
In the United States, television advertisements featuring an old lady eating (plastic) earthworms garnered some controversy, with complaints forcing the advert to be pulled from television network in Portland (Oregon), Spokane (Washington) and Sacramento (California).
Earthworm Jim was quickly ported to a variety of systems including the Sega Game Gear, Super Nintendo and Game Boy. It was released for the Sega Master System in 1996 exclusively in Brazil by Sega's distributor Tec Toy.
An enhanced version of the game, Earthworm Jim: Special Edition was released for the Sega Mega-CD and Windows PCs, and in more recent times ports have been made to the Game Boy Advance, iPhone, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and the Wii's Virtual Console service.
The game was followed by Earthworm Jim 2 and a variety of other sequels. It also led to a cartoon show by Universal Animation Studios, which is arguably one of the more successful video game cartoon adaptions of all time.
The Sega Mega Drive was the lead platform for Earthworm Jim, with all other ports stemming from this version. This includes the port to the Mega Drive's nearest rival, the Super NES, which although benefits from a increased colour palette, uses fewer animations due to sprite and memory limitations.
The Intestinal Distress stage was originally exclusive to the Mega Drive version of the game, reportedly put in at the last minute due to a request from Sega (thus making the game bigger than the Super NES version). In return, Sega reduced cartridge manufacturing costs for the game.
US TV advert
|Sega Retro Average|
| Based on|
|Mega Drive, SE (Rental)|
|Sega Retro Average|
| Based on|