In our latest Antstream Arcade Archive series, we take a look at another specific retro game from the Antstream Arcade vault, giving you the lowdown on its plot, gameplay and tips. This month we present the crazy annelid antics of Earthworm Jim, the multi-level Sega Mega Drive platformer from 1994. Standby to launch cow!
So this looks… similar, yet different. It’s true, Earthworm Jim is a side-scrolling multi-level platform game that resembles many similar 16-bit efforts from the early Nineties. Only, this is platforming, with a comical twist, most demonstrably its eccentric main character.
So what’s it about?
Jim is an, erm, earthworm, but he doesn’t let that lowly status stop him donning a powerful robotic suit and fighting evil. Through a series of varied and wacky levels, Jim must repel countless enemies with his upgradeable arsenal, while attempting to rescue the beautiful Princess What’s-Her-Name.
Gotcha. But what is her name?
Yes, that’s what I’m asking.
It is What’s-Her-Name. Her name is What’s-Her-Name, Princess What’s-Her-Name. It’s a play on the stereotypical female-in-distress trope of not just videogames, but also movies and television.
Got it. I think. This all looks rather un-serious.
Yes, there are japes aplenty in Earthworm Jim. Rabid dogs chomp at Jim’s bottom and there’s a bungee jump competition with a snotty adversary called Major Mucus entitled Snot a Problem. Jim himself is a colourful character full of personality, either pumping up his muscles in strongman style or having his trousers comically fall down, revealing a pair of romantic heart-adorned undercrackers. Steady, ladies.
Ha! So who else is Jim up against?
A whole menagerie of despicable creatures. Some, such as Psy-Crow, are looking to steal Jim’s robotic suit, while others, like Evil The Cat, as its name suggests, just like to do naughty things. Not to mention Professor Monkey-For-A-Head, desperate to recover the prototype suit that Jim is wreaking havoc in and the Evil Queen herself, a giant angry insect that also happens to be the twin sister of Princess What’s-Her-Name. Oh, and Bob the Goldfish. Who’s also evil.
Got it. I think. Again. Luckily, Jim’s an agile fellow.
He is, and Jim’s robotic suit and his own elasticity come in very useful throughout the game. In addition to the core skills of jumping and running, our wiry hero can also use his head as a mini-helicopter and whip, helpful for slowing his fall and despatching enemies respectively. At the end of each level there’s a boss to deal with, before Jim jumps on his rocket and must race against Psy-Crow through an asteroid belt to reach the next stage.
How else do I combat all this madcap evil?
In addition to the suit, Jim has discovered (or as some would say, stolen) a small, but natty, plasma blaster that effectively atomizes enemies, despite a constant need for recharging. There’s also an upgrade called mega plasma that unleashes a powerful plasma blast, wiping out anything in Jim’s path. Finally, Jim can even use his own head as a whip.
Brilliant! Sounds like Jim’s got this caper sorted.
Don’t you bet on it! In addition to the challenging end-of-level bosses, there are several mid-level bosses such as Billy The Bin and Rusty The Snowman. With all the villainous crows, ravenous dogs and other assorted critters to contend with, this is one tough adventure through a dangerous and zany world.
OK, any tips for a trainee wriggler?
Watch out for the hooked rocks and moose heads, as they are great objects for Jim to swing across using his head. Fifi dogs often attack Jim’s bottom while he’s hanging on a zip line; press up to avoid these attacks before launching an attack of your own at the pesky pooch. Meanwhile, in the intermediate rocket level, try and collect the asteroid shields as they eventually grant Jim a small amount of invincibility for when that inevitable collision occurs. Then, just beat Psy-Crow to the atomic accelerators and you’ll win this crazy race every time. Oh, and whip the refrigerator with your head in order to launch the cow.
OK cool. Wait, what?
So, once I manage to complete Earthworm Jim, what else is there on Antstream Arcade for me?
Firstly, we highly admire your foolhardy confidence. But if you do happen to best this game, there’s the sequel, cunningly named Earthworm Jim 2, also available on Antstream Arcade. And if that wasn’t enough worm action for you, we’ve also got the original Worms from Team 17, and all are available on Sega Mega Drive.
Great! So, what’s the princess called again?