Earthworm Jim: '90s Weirdness to the Max

Earthworm Jim: '90s Weirdness to the Max

Blast baddies in a groovy platformer

Alex Legard

Written by for Retrospectives on

Earthworm Jim is weird, its levels are totally random, and why do you play as an earthworm in a spacesuit anyway? Well, let's get to it.

Earthworm Jim screenshot 1
This looks like the evil scientist's laboratory from my fantasies!

Earthworm Jim originally came out for Sega Genesis and SNES back in 1994 as well as a few other consoles later on. As the story goes, Jim was once just a regular earthworm. After a harrowing escape from a crow, our hero sticks his head out of the dirt while wondering if it's safe. Suddenly, a super suit falls from the sky and lands on him! Luckily, the suit fits him perfectly. On that day, Earthworm Jim was born! Now, Jim spends his days fighting evil while evading the dastardly Psy-Crow who wants his suit back.

Each stage in Earthworm Jim takes place on a different planet starting with New Junk City: a metropolis inhabited by robots and birds that want you dead and it's very hard to hit back. Immediately, you can tell that the visuals look great. It has a bright and colorful style and the first stage features some cool techno music. It makes me feel like I'm playing a Saturday morning cartoon. Anyway, Earthworm Jim can run and jump like in a typical platformer and he can also whip himself at enemies as if he's a Belmont as well as fire his plasma gun at enemies but ammo is limited. Each stage has a boss at the end of it and some levels even have more than one.

Earthworm Jim screenshot 2
Peter Puppy took a walk to the park

Now that I'm on the subject, Earthworm Jim consists of 8 stages:

  1. New Junk City which I already mentioned
  2. Heck - a fiery planet ruled by an evil cat and it's inhabited by lawyers and snowmen
  3. Under the Tubes - a stage where you must journey through a series of tubes under the ocean to defeat Bob the Killer Goldfish
  4. Snot a Problem - a boss stage where you fight Major Mucus while swinging up and down on some kind of tightrope
  5. The creatively-named Level 5 takes you through an evil laboratory with robots and the ridiculous Professor Monkey-For-A-Head
  6. For Pete's Sake - the only automatically scrolling level in the campaign where you escort Peter Puppy to the end of a dangerous road while making sure he doesn't fall
  7. Intestinal Distress takes place inside intestines... I don't get it
  8. Buttville - I don't know what this planet is supposed to be or why it's called Buttville but it's dark, lightning flashes in the background, and the place is infested with killer bees; it's also brutally difficult

Between stages is a segment called Andy Asteroids which is not a platformer level but a 3D racing game and it's extremely cool. You have to race Psy-Crow through an asteroid belt; win the race and you go to the next stage in peace, lose and you have to fight Psy-Crow.

Earthworm Jim screenshot 3
Intestinal Distress fittingly put me in distress

Earthworm Jim is one of the toughest games that I've ever played. Why do Sega Genesis games have to be so difficult? Just like in many Genesis games, the problem is that you don't get many lives. Some areas are pretty annoying to get through and you can lose all your lives extremely quickly. I had the most trouble with the bosses. Some have to be attacked in a particular way before they take damage and it's not always obvious when you're making progress towards defeating them. It's also incredibly difficult to avoid their attacks.

The latter part of the game has increasingly tough levels such as For Pete's Sake which includes a very difficult section where you have to make sure Peter Puppy doesn't fall while dodging flying saucers. However, the toughest of all is Buttville, the final stage. At the very start, you have to glide down a maze of spikes and each hit from the spikes takes off 20% of your health. Brutal. 😠

Anyway, players today have the convenience of walkthrough videos and guides as well as save states if you play on the Sega Genesis Mini. There is also a level skip cheat code which is a welcome addition. I guess that makes Earthworm Jim somewhat tolerable in modern times. Don't know the cheat codes and want to beat it from the beginning? Good luck - you'll definitely need it! 👍

Earthworm Jim screenshot 4
This part looks absolutely horrible and it is

In the end, Earthworm Jim is an enjoyable 2D action platformer that has some extremely creative stages and memorable bosses. I love you, Earthworm Jim, but you also make me want to rip my hair out! 😠 That is all. 😊

Gameplay video for Earthworm Jim thumbnail
Gameplay video for Earthworm Jim 9:11
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