Thursday, 3 June 2010

Snot a problem – Earthworm Jim Returns!

Earthworm Jim was at one point one of my favourite MegaDrive games, with the original title and its sequel regularly being plunged into the cartridge slot. I still remember renting the first one and sighing with disappointment as I initially didn’t really like the game all that much. It was hard, unusual, and not quite how I expected it to be. After composing myself and trying again, I found myself opening up to Jim’s brand of humour and chaotic nonsense, along with finding some of the most inspired gameplay design I had encountered outside of Treasure’s much loved titles.

So it’s no surprise that a smile came over my face when I discovered that not only was a remake of original Jim game on the cards, but that there was also a trailer now available for it too. Groovy!

The remake, unsurprisingly called Earthworm Jim HD, contains both the original single-player game you remember, but also a brand new four-player co-op mode as well. New levels have also been added to the core gameplay experience, which include bizarre new enemies such as a distinctive keyboard-playing cat - attacking you with musical notes no less - and a granny jet packing herself across the stage like James Bond in Thunderball. Naturally this goes down well with a game sporting a varied cast of off-the-wall characters, ranging from a goldfish with delusions of world domination to an evilly posh cat and a crow in a yellow space suit.

As you can see in the trailer, rather than going down the 2.5D textured polygons route developers Gameloft have instead seen fit to be rendering the title in lovely hand drawn, high definition 2D. The look is not too dissimilar from Capcom’s Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, in which the game’s visuals appear to consist of flash type 2D graphics rather than the highly detailed pixel art to be found in SNKPlaymore’s King Of Fighters XII.

So far it does look pretty cool, though visually it is missing plenty of the little per-pixel details of the 16bit games, which is a shame. Plus something seems to be off with the sound. The effects are different, rather strange, and not like they were in the original game.

Either way, it is nice to see someone bring the character back to live in a form mildly respectful to its original source material. Gotta be better than some uninspired 3D sequel right? And hopefully, even if the visual charm isn’t quite there, that the gameplay will be back on fine form as we remember it to be. Certainly not like those awful GBA ports released a good few years back.

Earthworm Jim HD will be released for Xbox Live Arcade on 9th June and for PlayStation Network and WiiWare on 9th July. So one month later then.

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