10 little reasons we love Earthworm Jim HD

There are three new levels

Don't worry. No-one has messed with the main game. Earthworm Jim HD's new levels are separate unlockables that sit outside the original campaign, and despite my worries that they might not gel with the original 1994 design, they feel absolutely spot on. Playing in a similar fashion to the original's opening New Junk City level, they're filled with PC hardware trappings (including cooling fans for mega-boosted jumps) and have a totally Jim-authentic, chiptune-tinged soundtrack.

Best of all though, they have some great new, laugh-out-loud bosses. You now get to fight one of those old ladies from Earthworm Jim 2, and have a very funny run-in with an increasingly threatening swarm of insects. And while I won't spoil the best - and by far the hardest - one for you, I will tell you to beware of four-legged musicians who are quite popular on the internet.

You can still do this for hours

And you will.

The new difficulty settings are welcome (and funny)

The 1994 Earthworm Jim is harder than a granite-carved bastard. If you played through it at the time, you'll know that. Mercifully there are now four difficulty settings to cater for every taste, so everyone can finally appreciate the full game instead of getting stuck halfway and dreaming of how brilliant the rest might be. There's nothing game-changing, just things like scaled enemy strength, variable numbers of restart points, and bosses actually having visible health bars (a sanity-saving addition to the longer boss fights). But the thing I like most is the way the different settings are labelled.

Most games have Easy, Normal, Hard and Extreme. Jim HD has Easy, Normal, Hard and Original. It's a fitting tribute, a nice reminder of just how hardcore we used to be back in the early '90s. And if you were into Jim back then, it's the default setting you'll want to use. Normal is great for newbies, but if you ask me, it's too damn easy. But then I am excruciatingly hardcore.

Real-time weapon changing

Again, this probably sounds like a tiny point to those of you who didn't play Jim back in the '90s, but anyone who did will know just how frustrating it was when upon collecting a power-up you had to blow your insta-kill plasma gun load immediately, before you were allowed to go back to your standard blaster. That's not the case any more, as Earthworm Jim HD has adopted Jim 2's weapon switching feature via the right bumper. So now you can save those face-searing blasts 'o death for someone who really deserves it.

And lastly, most significantly, most beautifully of all...

They've fixed the bloody water level!

Tube Race. Oh Tube Race, you dirty bitch. How long did I scream, wail and howl as your broken game mechanics cruelly battered, bruised and humiliated me time after time as I sat red-faced and white-knuckled in front of my SNES. Forget any water temple. Forget the swimming level from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Earthworm Jim's twitchy, overly-long, insanely-time-limited submarine piloting section is the cruelest, most disgusting water level of all time. But in Earthworm Jim HD, it's an absolute pleasure.

Gameloft have drastically reduced the sub's excessive inertia. They've made it possible to connect to the life-saving oxygen top-up valves without wasting twenty seconds bumping around on the rocks trying to line up the correct, single, specific pixel on the sub with the corresponding one on the valve, which usually resulted in exploding the craft via crash damage along the way.

They've smoothed the docking process so that you'll never again make it back to the safety of the underwater base with seconds to spare, only to die while trying to actually get into the damn thing. Thanks to the wonderful men and women at Gameloft, last night I achieved my life-long ambition of completing Tube Race without using a cheat code. And I'm man enough to admit that I might have cried just a little as I did.

Earthworm Jim HD, I salute you.

All that, and there's a four-player on-and-offline multiplayer mode too. I haven't had time to try it out yet, but no doubt myself and Meiks (who also got Jim HD last night) will give it a bash over the weekend.

So what say you? Have I whetted your appetitite for this absolute gem of an XBLA release? If you were one of the original Jim players back in 1994, are you now eager for the new and improved version? Or did you miss him the first time round, and if so, have I got you tempted to fill in the gap in your gaming knowledge? Let me know in the comments, or via our none-more-thrilling portals on Facebook and Twitter.




  • 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.

  • 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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