The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Earthworm Jim 3D

Ok, I don’t how this got here. It must have just shown up on my doorstop after I scammed people to donate me video games to help the heart condition that I don’t have…or I thought I didn’t have. That pack of doritos may have demolished my arteries. Also, before I carry on, I’m going to address what I’m constantly asked “Why do you review so many platformers?” and “Why won’t you let me out of your basement” The answer to this is because I like platformers. I grew up on platformers, they’re fun, they take some skill to master and more often than not have a fairly decent learning curve and longevity, so sit back as this week, I review…YES! ANOTHER PLATFORMER!

Earthworm Jim was created, like everything else, in the early 90’s and debuted on the Sega Mega Drive. Whilst Mario was a cartoony, but simple platform hero and Sonic was a more edgy, in your face douchebag kind of hero, the creators of Earthworm Jim focused more on humour to sell their product and subsequently was developed by children judging by names like “Princess What’s her name” “Bob The Killer Goldfish” and “Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt”…I think it’s time for a new game!

Want to create your own Earthworm Jim character? No problem! Below, you will see a table of random phrases. What you have to do is print out this table, cut out the individual squares, shuffle them and put them face down on the floor. Now, pick up 4 and whatever 4 phrases appear are your Earthworm Jim character. Copyright The Zero, suitable for ages.

Anyway, so shall I continue, or are you having fun with that game? Basically, when games moved into 3D graphics, it seemed logical for Earthworm Jim to follow and we got Earthworm Jim 3D. Is it good? No. There. That’s it.

Oh are you still here, I suppose you want to hear me talk about the game…ok, pull up a chair. NOT THAT ONE! and we’ll begin…The game starts up with a very…well, the only way I can describe it is comedy accordion music, because I associate hilarity with accordians. Jim gets crushed by the N64 logo in an “hilarious” moment of foreshadowing. Then we start the game properly.

Jim’s dying after being crushed by a flying cow and all his friends are gathered by his side in his final hours. So Jim’s body now, brain dead by airbourne bovines, makes a last ditch effort to save Jim and a little teeny tiny version of him goes into his brain to…collect marbles and golden udders. Hang on…MARBLES? HE’S LOST HIS MARBLES? THAT’S THE PLOT HERE? I’ve overlooked the Golden Udders because that’s just standard platformy Macguffiny things, but LOSING HIS MARBLES?

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the game has a sense humour. Now, the problem with video games and humour is simply that it’s incredibly tricky to pull off, especially in game and then there’s the repetition of video game events. Case in point; one of the first weapons (we’ll touch on this later) you receive in the game is a Leprechaun gun, that fires…well, what do you think it fires? Now, first time you use it, you get Jim’s voice saying “Leprechaun”, a mushroom shaped gun and a leprechaun that gets fired out looking like he’s been shot from a cannon.  Now repeat this over and over and over and over and it stops being funny. The game is filled up to the brim with this, especially from recurring items and Jim’s voice, who can’t decide wether he’s doing an impression of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective or Homer Simpson. But the weird thing is, there are some genuinely hilarious moments in the game…admittedly it’s mostly people getting hit by fridges (which is literal fridge brilliance).

However, that’s where the praise ends. The level design on paper has this fantastic potential, but ultimately falls flatter than a fat person skydiving. Most platformers decide if they’re going for a linear approach, which would mean you would only be able to take one task at time. This is pretty  most 2D platformers core gameplay. Or they could go for a non linear approach, this is more frequent in 3D games, where you can do tasks in any order and whenever you feel like it. Earthworm Jim 3D doesn’t know which one it wants to be. And the result is like, If you imagine them as Megan Fox and Scarlett Johansen and you want to bone them both, but you have to pick, so he cuts them both in half and tries to have a threesome with the top half of Scarlett Johansen and the bottom half of Megan Fox, it just won’t work. And that’s the main problem with the game. It gives you the freedom to wander round the levels, but you have to do a mission to move onto the next one, which moves the level on etc etc and it’s just frustrating, then every so often, they’ll throw a curveball and not inform you of the path to take, which by then I’ve attached the cart to a firework, so I couldn’t care less.

To make this more of a pain. The game has some horrible controls attached to it, you have your standard A to jump, B to roll, Z to fire your gun…Z to FIRE YOUR GUN? No crouch? Bull. The problem here is mostly on my own hand. I’m so used to the trigger to crouch, that when I’m trying to make a high jump and use my last bit of ammo on my leprechaun gun, I get really angry, I had to order more cartridges and start the game countless times because I needed to calm down. With a baseball bat. Also, to go into first person mode, you have to press R and C-Up. Why not just C-up? Mario’s simple controls too easy for you? Then there’s the fact that you can’t prefect it. Sometimes for no reason, the game screws up when you make a perfect jump and Jim falls down. Or you jump, he hovers before falling. GOD DAMN IT, YOU’RE A WORM, CLIMB UP THE WALL! It’s not made easier by the addition of enemies. Enemies are horrible, they’re like ITV reality shows, they look horrid, they show up all at once and then once you think you’ve got rid of them. MORE SHOW UP! The enemies look out of place as well, even for a game with an emphasis on wackiness, they look like they’ve been copied from somewhere else. Like Friends of Maury Moo Cow 7, Pimpin’ Mama or Star Wars Episode 1.

And then there’s the camera. The camera in this game feels like it’s an enemy of its own. Whilst the Nintendo 64 had some trouble in terms of camera in platformer games by mostly relegating camera controls to the 4 C buttons, it didn’t constantly switch angles every second causing you to have no idea where you’re looking, fall to your death, get shot, hear Earthworm Jim’s annoying voice and repeat over and over. It’s especially a pain during “boss fights”, which really should be called Marble Scramble, because that’s all it is…oh yeah, did I mention you’re RIDING A PIG???

Ultimately, there’s an hilarious and good game somewhere, but it’s lost under a series of confusing gameplay, big lipped alligator moments, poor controls and camera, rubbish enemies, difficulty spikes, annoying voiceovers and bad graphics. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to shred this game and feed it to my hamster or the woman in my basement. Oh wait…they might be dead…So how about that Chloe Moretz then?


2 responses to “Earthworm Jim 3D

  1. alakazam9891 07/03/2011 at 18:36

    I really liked EJ3D when I was a kid but if I tried to return to it I probably wouldn’t like it nearly as much

  2. Pingback: Please watch for falling cows, especially if you’re an earthworm | Recollections of Play

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