Like previous platforming conversion Rayman, Earthworm Jim is something of a missed opportunity. Fondly remembered by many gamers from its original outing on Mega Drive and Super Nintendo, Earthworm Jim was a welcome antidote to the huge numbers of cutesy animal platformers with its bizarre attitude and plenty of character. Sadly, this outing on DSiWare isn’t Jim’s finest moment.
Although labelled a “remake”, this is essentially exactly the same game as its 16-bit grandfather, with the same levels (though slightly tweaked), near-identical graphics and Jim’s voice all intact. It controls as well as it ever did, with Jim shooting, jumping and whipping his way through the levels, and thankfully there’s no attempt to shoehorn in touchscreen controls.
One of the few admissions made to the DSi’s capabilities is the addition of camera minigames in the platforming levels. These are extremely simple: a picture of Jim appears and you must copy his facial expression to win a bonus. These minigames, although amusing at first, quickly become fiddly as you have to keep your face within a tight frame, not always easy when attempting to mimic some of the manic expressions. It’s an interesting diversion when it works but you’re likely to want to skip most of these unless you’re particularly dedicated to gurning.
As with the aforementioned Rayman, one of the downfalls in this transition is the limited size of the display. Although Jim isn’t quite as platform-heavy as his limbless counterpart, there are times when you’ll wish the DSi screen were just a little bigger to allow you to see where you’re actually going. Whipping across gaps with poor visibility of what’s ahead causes frustration, and generally a little more action onscreen would have been a huge help. It’s not quite as big a problem as in Rayman, but it will still give you a few frustrating moments.
Earthworm Jim has made the step to DSiWare relatively well, with all the immature humour, off-the-wall level design and charm that made it such a hit in its 16-bit days. The smaller screen size causes some problems and the DSi camera feature isn’t worth bothering with, but otherwise you’re getting a decent, lengthy platforming game that is priced just right at 500 Points.