Earthworm Jim 3D

a game by Rockstar San Diego, and VIS entertainment ltd
Genre: Action
Platforms: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64 PC
Editor Rating: 8.1/10, based on 5 reviews
User Rating: 9.5/10 - 4 votes
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See also: 3D Games, Earthworm Jim Games

Earthworm Jim has always been one of those characters who is surprisingly a lot more popular than you'd expect. Although not in the ranks of the Marios and Sonics of this world, he's certainly a number of steps above the Jersey Devil, Spyros, Bubsys and Aero the Acro-Bat (remember him?).

After selling some serious numbers on the 16-Bit systems, it was long thought that due to the lengthy hiatus, Jim was gone forever. Thanks to Scottish developer Vis Interactive though, a "final" episode is set for release before the end of the year. We say "final" (because Interplay is asserting the fact), but chances are that if this one is successful we'll probably see at least a few more.

So what's in store? Well, immediate assumptions can be made from the title; this one's in 3D...thanks to a fortunate arrival at the third installment in the series coninciding with the necessity for all N64 games to be in 3D.

As ever, the underlying concept is a bit on the wacky side. Apparently, a severe blow to Jim's head has sent him completely barking mad, and he now finds himself trapped within the confines of his own psyche. Completely unconscious, but trapped within a world of his own weird fantasies, Jim will have to explore the 3D platform-like recesses of his mind in order to try to fix his brain.

To do this he must wander through "themed" bits of his dreaminess, and each of the themes deals with certain psychological, um...thingies. There's stuff he loves, stuff he hates and stuff he's always wanted to do mixed up with lots of things from his memory. Hence we find characters and situations from the previous 2D games, such as Psycrow, Evil the Cat, Professor Monkey-For-A-Head and Number 4. All this stuff is mixed with The Bovine Special Elite, which are psychotic, gun-toting cows (obviously), Disco Zombies--which kind of speak for themselves and weirdness like baked-bean lava flows, supermarket shelves full of corn flakes and toxic fairgrounds.

The gameplay mechanics are obviously the kind of thing you'd expect from a game of this nature. Jim runs, jumps and does the usual kind of stuff that goes with the platform-game-hero gig. Like a number of other (notably European) recent N64 titles of this nature though, the subject matter and humor is what will set this apart from the Marios and Banjo-Kazooies. It's all a bit surreal, but it's nice to see that the whole design of the game, right down to the puzzles, echoes the weirdness. This isn't just a game with trippy visuals, it's weird all the way to the core.

A mix of polygons and voxels

Unlike many other games in the 3D genre, EWJ3D manages to look pretty unique thanks to the originality of its subject matter and the inherent cleverness of the technology used.

By mixing the usual textured polygons with voxel technology (volumetric pixels, a way of rendering graphics that is better for smooth lines), the overall result is a much smoother and more "natural"-looking environment. As you can see from the screenshots, the game doesn't suffer quite so badly from that blurry, fuzzy look that so many N64 games do.

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Game Reviews

Earthworm Jim. Sounds more like something Mr Spock from Star Trek would've said when giving his opinion on the cause of unexplained holes in a planet's soil, than the title of an action/adventure platform game. But I suppose if Sonic The Hedgehog can be a software star, then so can a humble earthworm called Jim.

Unsurprisingly, the story revolves around eponymous hero Jim. Having fallen into a coma, he becomes trapped in his own mind, and in order to bring himself back to consciousness, he must repair the different sections of his brain. This is done over four levels: Memories, Happiness, Fear and Fantasy. Each of these contains between three and five sub-quests to complete, including the likes of underpants retrieval missions and chicken assassination runs.

The game is relatively large, and offers plenty of variety in each level. Many obstacles block your path back to sanity, including rolling barrels, deep pits, quicksand and trigger-happy barn yard animals. In this respect, the game is a great deal of fun. The sense of humour throughout, although not to everyone's taste, is conveyed relatively well, especially with regard to the weapons. Shooting eggs and gnomes at your foes is ludicrous but, for a while at least, is an excellent laugh.

Unfortunately, there's a 'but'. The camera angles which track the character are diabolical, frequently obscuring Jim behind walls. Too often you get shot to bits or fall down a pit because you can't see where you're going. Another huge bug is the collision detection. Jim can be standing well out of the way of a rolling barrel and yet somehow it'll still end up hitting him. At the other extreme, rockets fired at our hero can pass right through the middle of him without even causing a scratch.

Like an alcoholic clown, Earthworm Jim 3D is a hoot on the surface, full of fun ideas and jokes, but under the bravado of comedy is just a little bit sad and disappointing. Just like most other platform games we've had to review in the past few months.

People say:

3

Remember how the 16-Bit Earthworm jim games were insanely difficult and unforgiving? That tradition lives on in EWJ3D. Unfortunately, this game brings nothing new to the table, on a system which has had its fill of 3D action platformers. A few things are missing here which could've made this game better. One is checkpoints. Huge levels, no checkpoints--why? The whole game is divided up into rooms. Let's say you get really far into a level and die in a lava pit. Instead of restarting right from that room, you start from the beginning of the level, with no power-ups collected (except Golden Udders). There's no Rumble or Expansion Pak support--very unusual for a new N64 game these days. The graphics are very N64-ish and very plain. Some PlayStation games look better. You can control the camera and it's either always following you (by holding Ri) or stationary on one angle. This can lead to battles with enemies where you're surrounded and can't actually see where your enemies are. So it's often just shooting blind and hoping you hit them. There's a wide array of weapons in the game but you can't toggle between them, and sometimes the game picks the weapon you'll use on each level for you. EWJ3D's just not that different or fun, and is too frustrating with no payoff. Rental at most.

5

Even though this 3D Earthworm Jim accurately represents the wackiness of all that is Jim, it has the typical problems many other 3D action/adventure games have. First and foremost, there's the camera. Trying to control the view while moving Jim around at the same time is a huge pain in the backside. And many of the levels have ridiculously tedious areas in them. So there you have it--the perfect combination of problems. It's funnier than it is fun.

5

Earthworm ]im 3D has some pretty nice level designs and interesting boss fights. A lot of the trademark E| humor from the 16-Bit games have carried over into 3D nicely as well. But everything else about the game is soooo average. Average frame-rate, average gameplay and average fun. And then there's the below-average: the damn camera work (excuse my French, but give the game a run and you'll be swearing like a frustrated editor as well).

6

This is about as weird as they come. OK, so it's ultimately just a 3D platform game...and when I first started playing it, the thought "Oh god, not another one" did cross my mind--but it has the odd way of endearing itself to you. It doesn't really offer anything new or original, it suffers from some truly godawful camera problems and it's really hard, but it can be quite fun. If nothing else it's further proof that farts are the funniest thing ever.

The wackiness continues with Interplay's third release of Earthworm Jim early next year. The most noticeable change fans will recognize in this now trilogy is the use of full 3-D levels. In this story. Jim takes a nasty hit on the head and falls unconscious. Here he must battle through segments of his subconscious mind that will take him to meet old classic enemies such as Professor-monkey-for-a-head as well as meet up with some new menaces. Earthworm Jim 3 contains that same groovy feel as his other two hits while allowing the total freedom 3-D games allow. With the past proven entertainment value of the other EWJ titles combined with new technology, EWJ3 is sure to be a hit.

  • MANUFACTURER - Interplay
  • THEME - Action
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1

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.

Snapshots and Media

Nintendo 64/N64 Screenshots

PC Screenshots

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