Earthworm Jim 2 Review
Posted by Marcel van Duyn
After creating the excellent Earthworm Jim videogame and subsequently making an awesome cartoon based on it, it was quite logical that Interplay would not give up on the franchise just yet. Not too long after the cartoon, they released Earthworm Jim 2, which was intended to be even better than the original game.
As Queen Slug-for-a-Butt was defeated at the end of the original game, she does not appear in this one. Obviously the role of main antagonist has thus been handed down to the second-biggest villain in the series - Psy-Crow! The plot is fairly simple - Princess What's-Her-Face has been kidnapped again and it's up to Jim to travel through various extremely weird environments to defeat Psy-Crow and get her back.
At first glance the gameplay in Earthworm Jim 2 is pretty much the same as in the original game. Jim must manoeuvre through each level, blasting and head-whipping enemies he comes across while avoiding obstacles and picking up items. As soon as you beat the first few levels, however, you'll find out that unlike the first game, which only had a few levels with different gameplay, fewer than half of the levels in this game actually feature straight-up platforming.
Every other level relies entirely on a gimmick. One level has you blasting through dirt to create a path from start to finish before time runs out, while in another, Jim dons the disguise of a blind flying cave salamander, after which he must carefully fly through intestines without touching the hazardous edges. These two levels aren't too bad, but the rest are!
In one particular level, the game becomes an isometric shoot 'em up, requiring you to bounce an explosive tied to a balloon from start to finish while trying not to die to an impossibly large number of enemies. Good luck with this - snot bombs will come at you continuously while ships fire at you, catapults throw sumo wrestlers at you (which you have to shake off by changing direction multiple times) and near the end walls of snot will fly at you, pushing you and the balloon back if they hit you! You can shoot enemies, of course, but if you accidentally hit the balloon, it'll explode and you have to go all the way back to the start to get a new one!
Another frustrating level takes place at a carnival. You must continuously use air machines to inflate Jim's head, making him fly upwards towards the finish. But of course the air doesn't last forever, and eventually you'll start to deflate, slowing you down greatly and requiring Jim to put his thumb in his mouth and re-inflate himself, which costs precious time and often means he's hit by things while he's doing so.
Fragile lightbulbs line up on the sides of the path (which can get extremely small, with bends in all kinds of directions at times), and to make matters worse, Evil the Cat's identical cousin Flagitious will sometimes pop out and shoot darts at you. Getting hit by stuff will cause you to deflate rapidly, and if you lose all your air, there is of course a risk of falling all the way back down, possibly hitting lightbulbs on the way down and taking further damage!
By far the most annoying level though is Puppy Love. In an obvious play on the Game & Watch game Fire, you must bounce Peter Puppy's young pups from one building to another using a marshmallow trampoline. If too many hit the ground, Peter will get angry and attack you, and if you die, you'll have to start all over! While that may not sound that bad, you have to play this level a total of three times throughout the game, and it becomes harder and longer every single time. Although it's amusing at first, you will most definitely get sick of it very fast!
The game tries very hard to be better than its predecessor, but at times it just feels like it tries too hard. The graphics and music are once again excellent, but the gameplay varies greatly - the standard platforming levels are still brilliant, but the gimmick levels are for the most part incredibly annoying, and it's likely that you will absolutely hate them. All in all it's still a quality game, but you'll most likely not enjoy it as much as the original.