Earthworm Jim Hands-On

Holy annelids! We take a look at the side-scrolling action of the first Earthworm Jim game for the PSP.

It's been roughly four years since we last saw an Earthworm Jim game (remember Earthworm Jim 2 for the Game Boy Advance?), and while some of the games in the EWJ series have been less than stellar, it's refreshing to see the game returning to its roots in Earthworm Jim for the PlayStation Portable. We got a chance to see and play the game for ourselves at a recent Atari press event, and it seems that the side-scrolling action and wacky humor that have defined the series are well intact for this game.

Off in search of Princess What's-Her-Name again...Earthworm Jim is back.

Earthworm Jim for the PSP is a side-scrolling platform adventure game that features the titular Jim winding his way through eight levels, battling enemies along the way and generally just trying to keep his segmented self in more or less working order. The plot for the game is a bit on the secretive side at the moment, but we do know that Jim will have a number of different specialized powers, thanks to a handy spacesuit he wears that lets him get around on two legs, climb rope bridges, hang onto perilous ledges, and of course, wield his trusty weapons. In addition, you can expect to see appearances by EWJ characters such as Princess What's-Her-Name and Peter Puppy.

The level we played during the demo featured Jim navigating through a junkyard replete with tires, metal-bending compacters, and treadmills. You move Jim through the level using the D pad, and each face button has a different function; the square button wields and fires the machine gun, the X button is used for jumping, and pressing either the circle or triangle button will let Jim use his head as a whip. At certain points in the level, you could jump in the air and lash out with Jim's head/whip to latch on to hooks suspended in midair. Jim could then swing through the air Indiana Jones-style to reach a ledge that might be otherwise unavailable to him.

Of course, that isn't the only way to reach new areas in a level. The tire piles found in this level were ideal for bouncing on; at certain points, we were able to bounce from one pile to the next to move continually up a huge tower of tires and access a secret item. And of course, like most earthworms, Jim is an expert mountain climber, and we were able to scurry up the sheer side of a cliff and onto a ledge. All of these different techniques mean that Jim (and thus you) will have multiple ways for attacking each of the eight levels in the game. One player might choose to simply jump and swing his way through a tricky passage, while another player on the same level might be looking for ways he can make Jim climb or bounce his way past obstacles. It's that kind of variety that the developers at Shiny are looking to bring to each level in the game.

Another level we heard about, but didn't get a chance to play, was referred to as "the birds and the bees level." Here, Jim is caught in the middle of a war between the birds and the bees and will have to progress through an increasingly complex level that's design is inspired by the old mousetrap board games. In other words, something Jim does that affects something in one part of a level will fan out and be felt by the complex machinery somewhere else in the level. It sounds like an interesting concept for a platform level; we just wish we could have seen it in action for ourselves.

He may be a worm, but that doesn't mean he can't kick butt.

Of course, it's not just the levels themselves that will pose a challenge for Jim--you can expect to see him go up against plenty of enemies, too. In the junkyard level we played, for example, there were crows aplenty looking to pluck him right out of his suit and gobble him down, as well as burly doglike creatures that had the ability to turn into miniature tornados. Presumably, there're plenty more enemies to face in the game, as well as end-level bosses that will pose a real challenge. We understand that at some points in the game, Jim will be out of his specialized suit, as well, making him especially vulnerable to enemy attacks.

Finally, one of the strangest additions to the game is the ability to dance. At any point in the game, you can take a break from the action and make Jim dance to the multiple tunes found on the game's soundtrack. We didn't get to see it in action, unfortunately, though we're pretty sure that a guy as flexible as Jim has some pretty slick moves.

With attractive cartoon graphics, two-player competitive modes, and a wry, winking sense of humor, Earthworm Jim looks like it could be a nice addition to the PSP platformer lineup. The game, currently 80 percent complete, is due to hit stores in early 2007, and we'll have a full review when the game is released.

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30 comments
cloud345
cloud345

I want some Earth Worm Jim!

LightR
LightR

To bad it's cancelled.

pantera_86TB
pantera_86TB

beanofengland: EWJ was on the Genesis and Megadrive BEFORE SNES, it was released in 94, then ported to the SNES in 95. So its not a nintendo original anyway.

EarthwormJimFan
EarthwormJimFan

IGN says it is coming out June 29th, I cant wait for this game.

HXCDEW
HXCDEW

beanofengland, get a PSP. It's pathetic you haven't bought one because you have some loyalty relation with Nintendo. That's the very reason why Nintendo has been a failure for the past decade, because they are taking their small but "loyal" fanbase for granted and not doing what is takes to be competitive in terms of getting 3rd party support. Stop buying from them and give PSP a chance - if Nintendo cares for you you'll see they'll do anything to get more games for the system. My 2pence.

Abacabb
Abacabb

This game was awesome on SNES...too bad they are ruining the beautifully drawn graphics by replacing them with this sub-par 3d trash.

AveryTale
AveryTale

Lol I remember that stupid cat. I was a wee lad when I played the game and he surely scared the **** outta me

beanofengland
beanofengland

excuse me whilst i vomit blood in dismay, why are all of my all time fave games: megaman x, streetfighter, and now EWJ being slapped onto the PSP with NO DS versions coming out! I know you PSP fanboys are gonna have a giggle about this comment but COME ON! Nintendo, i'm one you're most loyal fans, but freaking sort yourselves out, New SMB and Mario Kart were nice, but by destroying my dreams of once again playing EWJ by allowing the PSP to rob it is just evil, Evil The Cat must be doing this to me.... surely

Elyoshi
Elyoshi

Wewt, earthworm jim rocks. Hopefully it will be executed similar to New Super Mario Bros...

dadidito
dadidito

What happened! I woke up in August and saw all these must haves on the PSP! What is going on. To top the cake Sega Collections. I mean.. ABOUT TIME! Now the question is how to get them all without getting divorced. :)

bristowlfc
bristowlfc

this game looks class! cant wait

DrCLos
DrCLos

I hope they use the old music but rearranged or remixed for better sound. Anyway I think I may have finally found a reason to buy a PSP :P

rajahsulayman
rajahsulayman

I'm really hoping that the reason the demo was the "New Junk City" level from first game is because they're hiding the new material and just wanted to show off the PSP engine, and not because they're actually just repackaging the SAME DAMN SEGA GAME they've been repackaging for SNES, DOS, GBA, Gamegear, et al .. over the past twelve years.

basket_case06
basket_case06

Yay Jim is alive again, but we have to wait till 2007

Dav_id83
Dav_id83

Ohhhhhhh that's what I wanted to see Earthworm Jim back again probably 1 of the most funniest platform characters to grace the console market. The cartoon rocked and would you believe it the guy who does the voice to Homer Simpson was Earthworm Jim too. Peter Puppy and his bad ass temper in EWJ2 the puppy bonus missons with the ultimate Mashmellow Of Oblivion (which could wipe out the galaxy if not oiled at a certain time of day) to help save the puppies. I'm hoping more games like this come out then I WILL buy a PSP.

FelixofMars
FelixofMars

None of the original team are working on the game, Although most of the assest are completely stolen from it.

nintendorocks
nintendorocks

The only Earthworm Jims I played was the Earthworm Jim 1&2: The Whole Can 'O Worms for the PC and Earthworm Jim 3D for the N64. The Whole Can 'O Worms was decent but 3D I didn't like so much. But I probably should have played the originals for the Genesis and SNES before I judge Earthworm Jim. So, we'll see.

Infamous-One
Infamous-One

I still have my EWJ figures somewhere. This makes me happy to see good ole jim back again.

SP33doh
SP33doh

great. now I have to get a PSP. but i won't have money to buy a PSP. even if it gets its likley price drop. arg. shmirgenphlerbenhergen.

Deagler_
Deagler_

Yes this is awesome Is Tommy Tallarico doing the Music again for the game?

EL_Phantasma
EL_Phantasma

DUDE! this game looks so good! Cant wait 2 get play it

hbk3000
hbk3000

Earthworm Jim is back BABY YEAH! And he is looking better than ever.

Denham
Denham

Anyone else have EWJ action figures? heh. I don't remember much about the Genisis but I remember playing this game till it hurt. Yay PSP!