Available on: GBA, GEN, PC, PS1, SAT, SNES, Virtual Console
Developer(s): Shiny Entertainment, Screaming Pink, Super Empire
Publisher(s): Playmates, Virgin, Majesco Games
Thanks to the enormous success of the first game, as well as the cartoon that launched in 1995, the arrival of Earthworm Jim 2 was inevitable. Although the game didn’t sell quite as well as its predecessor, it was stacked with more stages, humour and addictive gameplay than the first one. Earthworm Jim 2 is a true classic, sadly overshadowed by its predecessor and forgotten by many.
Leave no cow behind
Ever since the demise of his employer Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt, Psy-Crow has been searching for a loophole that would make him the ruler of the royal family. He kidnaps Princess What’s-Her-Name with plans to marry her so he would automatically be crowned king one day. Earthworm Jim gives chase to the loony bird and his reluctant bride-to-be, and deals with some twisted occurrences on his way to Lost Vegas.
Earthworm Jim 2 is pretty much the most visually impressive Genesis game there is. One of the last, too, marked by its eventual release on Sega’s then brand new Saturn console as well. No needless effects containing risks to look bad due to an obsolete processing unit, just very smooth and colourful animation, and still some superb, technically generic effects that seal the fine legacy of the Sega Genesis. The visual design of the game is off the charts. The music by Tommy Tallarico is equally awesome; there are some remixed classical tunes such as Moonlight Sonata, as well as some rearranged folk songs to go with the magnificent, original earthworm groove. Marvellously produced voice samples and sound effects seal the deal – we have come a longer way from the first game than expected.
Aliens obsessed with the abduction of cows, angry grannies falling down staircases, lawyers gone mad over loads of paperwork, a crazed game show host whose questions don’t make any sense IN any sense, a stage based on soaring through a theme park with a head full of helium gas... yes, Earthworm Jim is back! There is only one single straightforward platforming stage with a standard boss in the whole game, which consists of nine stages overall, plus a recurring “bonus stage”. I will go over this counterpart to the first game’s Andy Asteroids? stage soon enough. In every other stage, there’s a special task, a stipulation or mean to progress. The developers went a few extra miles by cooking up some craziest ideas ever for this game. Some of these ideas work, but some take away from the intensity that’s supposed to be present in an action-oriented platformer. You see, the game starts out really slow. The first stage, Anything But Tangerines, is fun – but after that, two very boring stages turn up, back to back. After you’re done with those, you’re introduced to this game’s counterpart to Down the Tubes, a flying stage named The Flyin’ King. What I meant by the comparison to one of the toughest stages in gaming history is that it’s the turning point for a lot of players; the kind of stage you’ll get stuck in for a long while. Considering what the game has offered up so far, many players probably want to ditch it altogether. My advice: don’t do it. The Flyin’ King is the last test of mental strength on that scale in the whole game, just like Down the Tubes. The game gets better towards the end, in every single sense; more comfortable, more diverse AND better than the original Earthworm Jim.
|Don't you worry, milk machine. Earthworm Jim|
to the rescue!
On to the stages. Anything But Tangerines starts out quite straightforward on a Jim scale, but soon you’ll have to carry pigs around for no apparent reason, cleverly dispatch Drone Cats by taking advantage of your junk-filled surroundings, dodge cranky old women falling down large staircases and finally defEAT Bob the Killer Goldfish in what is perhaps the most hilarious boss “fight” ever. In Lorenzen’s Soil, you have to make your way through some muddy pipelines and defeat Pedro Pupa within a time limit, which is actually pretty forgiving, and you’re able to replenish the timer with clock power-ups along the way. Like I said, this isn’t my favourite stage, but the next one’s even worse. The extremely weird Jim’s Now a Blind Cave Salamander! looks much better than it plays out like; it’s probably the most surreal stage in the game. Jim is disguised, for no given reason, as a salamander called Blind Sally, and he makes his way through intestines, bumping into house interiors on the way and some stuff that came out of a pinball table. Deeper down, there’s also an unnamed game show host, who asks totally random questions with less than random answers. For example, one of the questions is: “What colour is Jim’s red gun?”, and the possible answers are “a. Blue, b. Green, c. Yellow”. Cooky! I love the surreality in this, but the stage itself is a boring stop along the way as far as gameplay is concerned. Then, The Flyin’ King. It’s hell. Jim must use his pocket rocket to fly over a tropical holiday resort and constantly push an airborne bomb forward to blow up Major Mucus, whose lair is on the other side of the area. Manouvering the bomb and fending off enemies at the same time is very difficult, frustrating as hell. You can die from enemy attacks on this delightful little trip, and you can also inadvertently blow up the bomb yourself, which means you’ll have to travel back to the beginning of the stage to get a new one and start the trip from scratch. Just before encountering Major Mucus and after surviving all those pig cannonballs and airborne battle robots, you’ll have some flying barricades of snot coming your way from random spots. These push the bomb back and you over the edge, mentally. Once you have beaten the stage, however, which is absolutely possible and eventually even likely, breathe deep, ‘cause you’ve just completed what I think is the most difficult stage in the game.
|The game's quite a TRIP...|
I almost missed something which I already mentioned: the so called “bonus stage”. Puppy Love replaces Andy Asteroids? as the minigame. It has to be beaten every time in order to make progress in the game, but you don’t have to do it more than three times during the course of the game. In Puppy Love, you are put through four rounds of saving Pete’s puppies from getting splattered across a courtyard by the crazed Psy-Crow. To do this, you must use a giant marshmallow (?) to steer the puppies towards Pete’s doghouse whenever Psy-Crow throws them out the window of his tall shack. Whenever you fail to save four puppies from their demise, Pete does you-know-what, if you were an avid player of the first game or watched the TV show. So how to beat this stage? Once in a while, Psy-Crow throws out a special item instead of a puppy. They’re usually ordinary collectables, sometimes they’re bombs. Whenever Pete sees a bomb fall into the doghouse, he frantically grabs it and throws it back into Psy-Crow’s shack, effectively ending a round. So, you don’t have to do anything except steer your makeshift trampoline – but be warned, the going gets pretty tough towards the end. It’s fun, though.
Overall, though it begins a bit slow, Earthworm Jim 2 is an amazing, amusing, rad action platformer, which is not to be ignored in any name by those who already loved the first game, or newbies that are not yet familiar with the Earthworm brand. It’s not as hard as the first game, there’s nothing as difficult as the first game’s planes of Hell which I’ll gladly leave unmentioned by name at this point, but there are few stages which will give you plenty to curse about; The Flyin’ King and the final gauntlet being the worst of them. The game is difficult, yes, but not impossible by any means. Unlimited continues for the win!
Yes, I do think that despite the fact it didn’t garner in nearly as much attention from the media as the first game did, Earthworm Jim 2 is better, less frustrating and a more casual game than the first one. More jokes, better gameplay... the game might lack some intensity during the first half an hour into it, but it never stops entertaining the player in at least some sense. One of the less heralded gems of each platform it came out on.
Graphics : 9.5
Sound : 9.3
Playability : 8.6
Challenge : 9.0
Overall : 8.8
|I love this part.|
The two games are practically 100% identical, and there’s really nothing new to say about the SNES version, that hasn’t already been said about the original.
Graphics : 9.2
Sound : 9.1
Playability : 8.6
Challenge : 9.0
Overall : 8.8
GameRankings: 37.56% (GBA), 90.00% (GEN), 77.50% (PS1), 85.00% (SAT), 87.50% (SNES)