Community Post: Earthworm Jim 3D — If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right

Image by Flickr user Aaron Himel
Image by Flickr user Aaron Himel

If you’ve not yet checked out all the great posts in UWG’s “guilty pleasure” games community posts, then be sure to take a few clicks back to see what fun we’ve been having in recalling the best of the worst (of the best) since April 1st! And share with us your favorite games that you hate to love and love to love no matter what anyone else says!

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The following article was adapted from a post published on Recollections of Play, April 16, 2013.

Me and Earthworm Jim, we go back…like waaaay back to almost the beginning. I never played the original Sega Earthworm Jim game in 1994, but I did, with all the inane trappings of maniacal glee, play the version that was ported to the SNES in 1995. If games followed movie genres, it was one of the earliest “comedies” I played. The premise was entirely hilarious (earthworm finds spacesuit, becomes a force for good, fights of the likes of Bob the Killer Goldfish and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head to save Prince What’s-Her-Name), and the platforming/shooting/collecting action was beautiful. It was simply a fantastic game. Its sequel, Earthworm Jim 2 was even more fantastically ridiculous and fun. With the release of these games, there was also a short-lived but brilliant Earthworm Jim cartoon.

It was my favoritest.

So, to say I looked forward to the release of Earthworm Jim 3D in 1999 is a bit in an understatement. One of Rockstar’s (yes, that Rockstar) early publishing ventures, Earthworm Jim in all three dimensions on the beloved Nintendo 64 promised to be the best thing going in gaming. Like, better than sliced bread packed in a picnic basket with peanut butter, jelly, AND ice-cold chocolate milk. Yes, that good.

Earthworm Jim 3D continued the story of Jim’s quest to save the galaxy from his regular series of enemies. Only this time, the fight happened in his mind…like, inside Jim’s actual gray matter that was stuffed inside his little worm skull. (But worms don’t have skulls…?) After being hit by a cow – prevalent creatures in the Earthworm Jim games – our beloved worm fell into a deep coma. Upon waking, he found himself actually traversing the virtual corridors and pathways of his actual brain. The only way to save himself was to find all his marbles (Haha, marbles? Brain? Funny stuff…right?) and some golden udders, because, y’know, cows. Along the way he met up with a cast of bad guys that appeared in previous games, from Psy-Crow to Evil the Cat. You got to shoot things to get power-ups and other items, there were hosts of unusual enemies to tackle, and the strange, unique, and sometimes laugh-out-loud humor (though mabye I was the only one laughing) of the series pervaded every corner of the game.

If there was one significant drawback to the game, it was the camera. As with a number of “3D” games from the Nintendo 64 era, Earthworm Jim 3D‘s camera was perfectly terrible. Many times it got stuck in very awkward viewing angles. Though the simple press of a button was supposed to center the camera, it frequently failed. Instead, the camera often seemed to develop intelligence and spite enough to just go off its own without telling you, leaving Jim in compromising positions that led to mounting frustration and usually death. This was especially problematic during boss battles when thing like aiming and movement were crucial. The camera always seemed to unhelpfully think otherwise.

As much fun as I had with the game back them, it really wasn’t all that great, which is why I consider it one of my gaming guilty pleasures. For all its hilarity, and despite my affection for that crazy worm in a spacesuit, I didn’t find the game anywhere near as endearing as Banjo-Kazooie, The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, or Super Mario 64 (though I did replay it several times over.). I’d never recommend it to anyone, but I still find myself inimitably attracted to my memories of it. Watching videos of it now make me yearn to play just a level or two in order to recapture a little of that something that made it special to me all those years ago. I hate to admit how much I liked it, but I’d never say otherwise, because seriously, how many games feature worms with ray guns, golden udders, or completely serious and non-offensive Pocket Rockets? Not many…well, besides the Earthworm Jim games, that is.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Man I loved me some Earthworm Jim for Super Nintendo. Good memories.

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    1. cary says:

      Both Earthworm Jim 1 and 2 we’re great on the SNES. Great platforming + crazy sense of humor = win!

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      1. I could never get past the stage where you escort your sidekick over the moon or something and try to not let him turn into a monster. Level is fucking hard.

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      2. cary says:

        Oh right, he had that dog as a sidekick! And when he got angry he’d “hulk out.” Was that the stage where Jim had to save a bunch of puppies and if he dropped too many, the dog became a “hulk” and beat him up? I definitely remember all the puppies. Also, all the anger.

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      3. Nah, I don’t think I even got that far. I was stuck on the stage “Bad Dog” or something. The sidekick skips his way right and you have to keep up and clear the path and get him over gaps by wiping him otherwise he goes hulk.

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      4. cary says:

        Ah, yes. Weird that whipping the dog didn’t anger it, but everything else did!

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  2. Hatm0nster says:

    I’ve never played this game, but while it doesn’t sound like it’s one of the better platformers for the N64, it also doesn’t sound like it deserves all the scorn it’s received around the internet. It’s a shame earthworm Jim wasn’t able to continue beyond the N64 though, the SNES games were so colorful and crazy that it was probably the closest we’ve ever come to playing in a cartoon show. 🙂

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    1. cary says:

      I agree there. Those original games had such bright, poppy, and cartoony graphics, they really stood out, even among the Mario games of that generation. Some of that magic was lost in his translation to 3D, which didn’t help the series’s reputation. I’d love to see Jim back in 2D form in a new game, but I’m just as happy playing the old ones now…on the Wii, that is. (Thank Wii eShop!)

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  3. benrosslake says:

    I Just looked up the Earthwork Jim intro. I lvoed that, never actually played the game, the 3d transition as you say lost a lot of its charm, the bright 2d characters were replaced with muddy brown angular textures. I’, sure I remember them making a new one… or did they remake the old ones?

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    1. cary says:

      Gosh, I totally forgot about the remake! Earthworm Jim HD. I think it was an XBLA/PSN game. I don’t know how well Jim fared in HD or if it’s still available, but the original game is on

      You’re right about his translation to 3D — the game looked nowhere near as nice, as all it’s cartoony charm was gone.

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