Get ready for double nightcrawler intensity. Shiny Entertainment's new release, Earthworm Jim 1 & 2: The Whole Can o Worms, is a compilation of the first two Jim games and boasts 80 hours of pure gun-totin', segmental action. Folks who played the console version of this game when it came outor even those who are playing it for the first time on a PCwill enjoy this DOS version of the classic side-scroller.
From the outset, Earthworm Jim is a sensory cornucopia. At times, the game feels like some sort of interactive Saturday morning cartoon (well, I suppose it really is). The combination of wacky sound effects and silly character renderings harks back to the twisted trailers of Tex Avery. Each level sports a different otherworldly theme, from the comically exaggerated inferno of What the Heck in EWJ1 to Level Ate in EWJ2, in which Jim has to sprint across terrain composed of our favorite breakfast and lunch fare. The music is really something else too; the developers have definitely strayed from your average action game music. For example, in The Villi People you have to navigate Jim (clad in an absurd cave-salamander suit) through a circuitous intestinal-tract while a poignantly dark rendition of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata plays in the background. The controls in the Jim games are great, enabling you to perform many subtle movements. In EWJ1 you can use Jim's head as a whip to swing on. This feature is replaced in EWJ2 by the aptly titled Snott-swing. Also, when you press the jump button repeatedly after jumping once in EWJ1, Jim's head whirls around like a propeller, making it possible to glide to areas otherwise unreachable. (EWJ2 also has something comparable to this.)
As you guide the invertebrate superhero through multifarious, surreal cartoon worlds, you encounter a vast range of animated critters which must be blown away. Jim comes equipped with a fairly hefty automatic firearm, but you can pick up other weapons on each level. One of the coolest ones available is the homing gun with which you literally home in on your adversaries by firing guided domiciles.
This game looks and plays slightly better than the Windows 95 version from Activision, but the graphics are still slightly rougher than they are in the console version (incidentally, the use of a gamepad with this game is a near necessity). Still, it's quite an accomplishment to create a DOS game whose playability basically remains faithful to the original. And that's no small feat.