During the 16-bit reign of the SNES, Shiny released a quirky 2D platformer called Earthworm Jim. The game's hallmarks included solid platforming action and a seriously weird sense of humor. A quality sequel was released, and a not-so-quality 3D platformer on the N64 followed, effectively sullying the Earthworm Jim name. However, now that Nintendo has introduced the Game Boy Advance, Majesco Sales has dusted off the original 16-bit Earthworm Jim and put it to good use.
Earthworm Jim for the GBA is essentially a direct port of the original Earthworm Jim for the SNES. This means you'll have to work your way through all the familiar levels of yore, including a mutant poodle-infested junkyard, the mysterious Planet Heck, vast rivers of snot, as well as the lower intestine to rescue Princess What's Her Name. This also means that all your favorite Earthworm Jim characters, such as Psy-Crow, Evil the Cat, Peter Puppy, and Professor Monkey for a Head, are present and accounted for.
Jim can perform all the running, jumping, and shooting duties that can be expected of a 2D platforming hero. As an added bonus, he can also use his wormy little head as a whip, a bungee cord, or to just hang around. This blind port of Earthworm Jim for the SNES does have its drawbacks, as it still exhibits some of the problematic mechanics of the original, most of which involve your blaster. You still can't fire shots while in motion, and the lengthy transition time from shooting to moving will likely cost you some life more than a few times.
When it debuted in 1994, Earthworm Jim was visually impressive, with detailed and varied level designs, a unique cast of characters, and tons of fluid animation. The game makes the transition over to the GBA flawlessly, retaining all the visual style that made it something special on the SNES. It might be a 7-year-old engine, but with the help of a smaller screen, it still manages to impress.
The sound in Earthworm Jim may not be its crowning achievement, but it's still proficient. It may not be a musical tour de force like Super Mario Advance or Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, but the music never gets in the way and occasionally manages to be pretty catchy. The smattering of voice samples found in the original are included, though the tinny presentation keeps them from knocking your socks off like they did seven years ago.
For fans of the original Earthworm Jim games, this is a real treat that provides an exercise in nostalgia while still being legitimately fun. For first-timers, Jim introduces a whole new generation of gamers to his bizarre brand of off-kilter platforming action. Either way, Earthworm Jim proves two things; 2D platforming isn't dead, and it's OK to laugh.