Earthworm Jim 3D

a game by Rockstar San Diego, and VIS entertainment ltd

Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genre: Action

See also:3D Games, Earthworm Jim Games

A hurtling cow has hit Jim and knocked him out cold causing him to lose all his marbles. Laying unconscious in his hospital bed, he only has one hope for survival: his super ego must find all his lost marbles and the golden udders of lucidity. Join up with Jim's super ego on a quest through dangerous territory, Jim's own mind, to save his own sanity. Earthworm Jim 3D is another 3D-platform game with one saving grace: the originality of the world of Earthworm Jim.

Gameplay

Earthworm Jim 3D takes place in Jim's mind after he is accidentally by a hurtling cow. You'll take a trip through each of Jim's four brains. Each brain contains a different part of Jim's personality -- Memories, Happiness, Fear, and Fantasy. Within each brain is a series of levels, sub-levels, and boss levels that make up the meat of the game. Each level takes place in a different, and usually strange, location. You'll work your way through the barnyard, a fast food joint, a mad scientist's mansion, and the old west to name a few. The levels need to be unlocked which is done by collecting marbles, thus returning a little piece of sanity to Jim with each one. As you collect marbles, you'll become "Smart as a [INSERT LOTS OF DIFFERENT THINGS HERE]". Access to other brains is obtained by collecting the golden udders of lucidity.

I have very mixed feelings about this game. While the storyline and general gameplay are really entertaining, and the general control is pretty good, there is one major problem: the available camera angles are lacking to the point where the game loses a tremendous amount of appeal. Yes, here's another game that is suffering the dreaded N64 Camera-Angle Disease. If you've ever played other N64 3D-platform games such as Super Mario 64 or Army Men 3D, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The main problem is that the camera doesn't stay behind Jim as you would want it to. There is a "feature" that will make the camera swing around behind him if it has room to do so, but you must constantly hold the "R" button to make this work and the camera still doesn't stay directly behind, it just swings behind when it can as you move. You have the ability to move the camera at will around Jim, assuming there's room to do it, and you can zoom in or out which helps the perspective a little. This very often makes playing really difficult, as you can't always see where you're going or what's coming at you. Because of this, you'll find yourself getting hit more often than you'd like or would have if you could see where you were going. Fortunately, there are frequent opportunities to refill your life and ducking will avoid most forms of ordnance fired at you. The worst part of the camera angle problem, though, is when you're riding around on a vehicle of sorts (such as surfing on a pig). When you try to turn the vehicle, the camera doesn't follow until after the vehicle starts cruising in a particular direction. This makes it very hard to control yourself, as you can't always tell what direction you're about to turn and you may end up moving straight into the line of fire.

Earthworm Jim himself has a variety of nifty moves such as jumping, high-jumping, using his head as a helicopter to jump farther, ducking, rolling, climbing, firing whatever weapon he's holding, climbing across ropes, and of course using his head as a whip. The stock of weapons Jim can get his hands on are no laughing matter -- okay, yes they are. Aside from his standard blaster, he also has use of a Cleaver Gun, Egg Chucker, Gnome Gun, Bananamite, Peashooter, and the Apollo 13 to name a few. Each weapon has some very unique abilities and can be obtained by finding the appropriate vending machine. There are also some extras here and there that help in Jim's quest. These consist of marbles, extra lives, beans (the magical fruit...), atomic health, and a blaster orb (it follows you around and fires on enemies). You will also encounter numerous other people (of sorts) in your journeys. Some are nice, some aren't. Talk to anyone you can to get the skinny on why you are where you are and what needs to be done. In a nutshell, lots of items, lots of characters, lots of imagination, lots of fun.

Graphics

Earthworm Jim never looked so good. Well, okay, maybe he has, but he does looks good in this game. The graphics overall are bright and have a lot of originality in a ton of very different locations. The special effects are different from most games, due to the large variety of weapons and their effects when hitting things. For an N64 game, the graphics are above par, nice to look at, and help make the game more entertaining.

Audio

The audio is wonderful and quite original. There are lots of neat sound effects and Earthworm Jim quotes that keep the game lively. There are a bunch of different types of music in the game. I particularly was impressed with the way the accordion sounds (let's face it, you don't hear them very often in games). There are lots of background sounds that are generally played at a lower level but sometimes can give you the impression you are being attacked by something when you aren't. They more or less keep you on your toes at almost all times.

Documentation

Informative and entertaining. It goes over the basics. Strangely enough, though, you have to read it to find out the storyline of the game since the game itself really doesn't go over why Jim is in the hospital. Since the game goes over most of the basics as you need to learn them, you can do without the manual, but read it for a giggle if nothing else.

Bottom Line

As I said earlier, I have very mixed feelings about this game. Even though this is the umteenth 3D-platform game to hit the market in the past X number of months, the concept, characters, and originality of it really make it an incredibly entertaining game to watch. Unfortunately the bad camera angles and the fact that you can't see where you're going a good portion of the time really take away from the game's fun and playability factor. This game would be great as a movie, but unfortunately the developers seem to have forgotten the number one thing that makes a great game -- control and playability. I would have loved to give this game a score in the high 80's simply based on originality, but due to the amount of frustration involved with control and view issues and that it plays like virtually every other 3D-platform game out there, I can only give it a 74.

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