By: Jared Black
the Marios and Sonics of the 16-bit era, it was extremely difficult
for any other wannabe mascot to make their mark in the platforming
genre. Most of the Mascot B Team failed miserably (Bubsy, Aero,
etc.), but one managed to rise above the rest and stake his claim as
a top mascot. This champion of unappreciated mascot characters was Earthworm
Jim (EWJ), a gun-totiní earthworm lucky enough to come into
possession of a supersuit. Earthworm Jim was able to obtain its
success through a combination of an awesome visual style (hand-drawn
cartoony environments), plenty of Ďtude, and some innovative and
after three successful outings on the Genesis and SNES EWJ faded
into obscurity. Shiny had no compelling reason to bring him back
(their assets being tied up in junk like Wild 9ís) and the
major hardware players already had their own mascots.
But the story of
EWJ does not end on a sad note. For you see, the Game Boy Advance
has proven to be a haven for those heroes of yesteryear. With itís
superior hardware (to the SNES and Genesis), developers quickly
discovered that porting older games, that most new gamers havenít
experienced, to the GBA is easy money. And thus, Majesco has revived
EWJís original adventure on the Game Boy Advance.
even today, still holds up really well. While everything takes place
from a 2D perspective, there are still a variety of things to do in
the game. In addition to simply killing the enemy (accomplished by
either whipping them or shooting them), youíll also have to deal
with numerous obstacles, guard dogs, and level bosses. I donít
want to go into too much detail about what takes place, simply
because a lot of the fun lies in discovering each new gameplay twist
thrown at you. Basically, itís a 2D platformer with a lot more
variety than youíll find in a Sonic or Mario.
hold up well also. Despite the fact that theyíre years old, they
still manage to look good due to the unique visual presentation of
the original title. Everything is bright and vivid, and very easy to
see with decent lighting. Thereís quite a bit of detail to be
found in the backgrounds of each level, and each level provides a
totally unique visual experience. Really, the only downer in this
area is that the character animations seem a little lacking compared
to the original. Whether itís missing some animation frames or not
I canít say for sure, but some of the transitions between
different actions seem stiff. Itís not that itís bad (Iíve
never seen animation this good on the GBC), but itís not up to par
with some other GBA titles.
The sound held
up much better in the transition, as it arrived virtually intact.
The music sounds the same as it was on the SNES, and thatís
impressive for a handheld. Likewise, the sound effects are almost
exactly the same quality as well.
Really, the only
major problem with EWJ (and I've seen other reviewers complain of
this also) is that there is absolutely no way to save your progress
in the game. While this is faithful to the original console version,
things are different on a handheld. EWJ is the type of game that NEEDS
some sort of way to save your progress, simply because itís such a
long game (six long levels). Handhelds are generally picked up and
played for short periods of time, and for a platforming game this
makes game saves a must (since you canít really pause it and go
back to it later). In addition, if your batteries die on you itís
game over, regardless of how far youíve gotten. Does starting over
after finally reaching the last level sound like fun to you? As you
can imagine, this severely hampers the gameís replay value.
Playing for a few minutes and then finishing it later is simply not
an option. You better set aside a good chunk of time (and some fresh
batteries or an AC adapter) if you wanna finish it.
while not mind-blowing, still retain a unique visual style.
- The sound
work is top-notch. Would you expect anything less from Shiníen?
gameplay that has aged very gracefully.
- Very few
people will play through the entire game in one sitting on a
cramped handheld. Whereís the save feature?
lost a little bit in the translation.
- It is just a
port, so if you owned/played the original it may not be worth
remains one of the best platforming games ever and Majesco has done
a good job of bringing it to the GBA. However, the lack of a save
feature severely limits any replay value (or "pick up and put
down" value every handheld game needs) it may have, and
consequently makes the final score much lower than it should be.
Overall Score: 7.6