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10 little reasons we love Earthworm Jim HD

Last night I hooked up with an old friend for the first time in a few years. These situations are always exciting, but often a bit nerve-wracking too. Would we still get on? Would I have moved on as a person and be forced to see our old relationship in a new, less enthusiastic light? Would uncomfortable present-day reality stomp all over the happy nostaligia of the way things used to be between us?

In short, the answers were yes, no, and absolutely not. The old friend was Earthworm Jim, and thanks to Gameloft's new HD upgrade for XBLA (and coming soon for PSN), he's cooler, friendlier, and more fun than he ever has been. So now, I shall recount to you exactly why this may very well be the absolutely definitive version of one of the 16-bit era's finest platformers.


It's a real HD upgrade

Unlike many HD re-releases of 16-bit games on the two big consoles' download services, Earthworm Jim HD is the real deal. No blurry old sprites upscaled and smudged into a gooey mess here. All of Jim's levels, sprites, backgrounds and special effects have been redrawn, reworked and thoroughly beautified to create a genuinely stunning-looking game. Jim was always a looker, but his new, more vibrant, more detailed visuals are a truly gorgeous sight to behold.


The soundtrack is even more badass

Cult games, especially older ones, are fairly numerous. Cult soundtracks, far less-so. Jim's OST, composed by veteren game music genius - not to mention creator of the Video Games Live concerts - Tommy Tallarico is one of those soundtracks. Clever, creative, moody, and at times utterly, gloriously insane, I'm borderline delerious at its treatment in Earthworm Jim HD. Not a single track has been messed with, but they've all been remastered excellently, so you can now appreciate every beat, bassline, sample and random twang like even the SNES' legendary sound chip could never allow you to.


The unlockable bonuses are fantastic

As much as we used to mock them, the idea of unlockable game-specific kit for your Xbox Avatar is starting to come into its own now. And Jim HD's are brilliant. First up, there's a rather natty Earthworm Jim t-shirt, which actually made me a little jealous of my small digital man and now has me on the search for a real world one for my very real self.

But way better than that is Jim's power suit. A perfect 3D replica of Jim's spacesuit, it almost made me do a little air-punch when I discovered it, and it's going to take something very special indeed to make me put anything else on my Avatar ever again.


Jim controls far better now

Jim was always a slickly kinetic show-off. Beautifully animated - which the re-painted frames really show off now - and highly versatile, he was a pleasure to control. But now he's even better. Thanks to analogue stick control, his movement is far more precise, and his multi-directional shooting - although still making use of the traditional eight directions - is far more fluid and instinctive to use than it ever was with a d-pad. It sounds like a simple point to make, but when you get your hands on Jim HD you'll find it immensely refreshing. The space racing Andy Asteroids? levels are almost a whole new experience.


There's a great comic book intro

I would have hated Gameloft to have crowbarred in a bunch of 3D cutscenes just for the sake of pandering to modern conventions. They would have stuck out as awkwardly as a Speedo-wearing man in a strip club next to Jim's flawless 2D eye candy. But we do now have six pages of static, comic book artwork explaining Jim's backstory as an intro to the game. It's funny, wonderfully drawn, and packed with completely authentic personality for all the characters involved. I like it a lot.

Make haste! For more cool stuff lies over on the next page!

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33 comments

  • Harmonator - June 14, 2010 1:59 a.m.

    I wasn't originally thinking it, but now I may do so. Thank you for convincing me. I'm still nergasming over the Perfect Dark remake, so I might as well pick this up since that remake was SO good for SO cheap.
  • Zeb364 - June 13, 2010 7:37 p.m.

    I avoided JIm the first time out back in 94 almost completely. I gave it a short run, didn't get the appeal, and moved on. I had no intention of downloading HD either but after this article I've decided to get the trial version and give it a shot.
  • lukel127 - June 12, 2010 6:56 p.m.

    You know, EWJ has been on the iPhone for a while. Its also made by gameloft. Just sayin...
  • killerrpgfan - June 12, 2010 3:14 p.m.

    Sweet i might actually get this! I also second Paragon that you should do something about the stupid spammers who have no freakin life and only sit here and do stupid posts all day. I like it when people actually give there opinion or something but i freakin hate spammers!
  • Bawheidbob - June 12, 2010 12:04 p.m.

    Ahh great memories to a game i actually completed the first time round. That was when i like immense child like gaming skills of vast power- not like my old feeble skills now :. Ill check this one out
  • PocketRocket - June 12, 2010 11:23 a.m.

    The tube racing on the DSi version of EWJ has a little snap feature where when your sub gets close enough, it'll just snap onto that air pipe. Easy as pie. The DSi version has a camera feature where at certain parts of the level, you'll find a large camera. Basically a minigame where you make a face like Jim is making, but you get a ton of those insta-kill plasma guns for doing it. It's cheap, but it comes in handy. Especially on original difficulty (which is on the DSi as a difficulty choice, the only other one is normal difficulty). Also Jim saying "GROOVY" sounds very different on the DSi... I kinda like the DSi "GROOVY" better, but this Earthworm Jim HD sounds like a lot of fun.
  • philipshaw - June 12, 2010 10:56 a.m.

    I will play it when its on PSN
  • TheWebSwinger - June 11, 2010 11:50 p.m.

    OMG OMG OMG OMG
  • LizarDAZZLE - June 11, 2010 11:39 p.m.

    please tell me this is out on the pc someday! I remember when I was little, playing this, getting so pissed off at how hard it was. squeeee?
  • Spybreak8 - June 11, 2010 11:19 p.m.

    I never played the game when it was on the older console, however I did play an emulator with this game once. Yeah I'll probably pick the HD version up too.
  • GREmLiN324 - June 11, 2010 11:04 p.m.

    I have memories of doing tube race on a gameboy, i almost broke it throwing it at something out of pure frustration, i need to check this out now
  • sdmf4ever - June 11, 2010 10 p.m.

    Just downloaded this last night and it is Freakin' AWESOOOOOOOOMME! Everything that was wrong with the original has basically been addressed....TOTALLY GROOVY indeed! Still one of my favorite games of all time, but in a better way now.......yay!
  • Jalygtra - June 11, 2010 9:39 p.m.

    @Real-time weapon changing Great now its not just ps3 that has it (cough E3 2006 cough cough)
  • Conman93 - June 11, 2010 9:08 p.m.

    Will probably get this if its good
  • RebornKusabi - June 11, 2010 7:44 p.m.

    I too have the original on the Wii... I didn't find it that hard though... Oh well, guess I'm getting this next, though it'll be right after I get MGS: Peace Walker >_>
  • d0x - June 11, 2010 5:43 p.m.

    I had purchased EJW on virtual console like a month before EJW HD was announced but I was more than happy to buy this game for the 4th time! I own it on Genesis, SNES, Wii and now XBLA. The graphics are very nice and I really wish more companies would update their classics in HD for a decent price instead of giving us the emulated versions that look terrible in HD and somehow even worse on the Wii. Keep them coming PLEASE!
  • TyeTheCzar - June 11, 2010 5:32 p.m.

    This looks and sounds very promising. If it can also give us the extra stages and content from the PC and Sega CD versions, plus the option to use the original assets and music, I'd be willing to buy it even more.
  • bitcrusherrrr - June 11, 2010 4:36 p.m.

    Does it have the theme tune from the cartoon in it anywhere?
  • garnsr - June 11, 2010 4:35 p.m.

    This is one of those games that holds a spot in my heart, that I never really liked that much, like Sonic. Weird how that works. I'll probably get it on PS3, maybe I'll like it better now that I'm all gown up.
  • Ensoul - June 11, 2010 4:17 p.m.

    Missed out the first time around. Oh I had a Snes but EWJ was that game that was never around. None of my friends had a copy and every time I tried to rent it someone else beat me to the punch. While I haven't finished it yet, it's a fantastic game and anyone who likes 2D side scrollers should find enjoyment in it. As an Arcade title it's done right with a solid price point and some nice avatar awards. Groovy.

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