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SNES REVIEWS: Earthworm Jim 2 - Destructoid




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About
Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I am an Iraqi-Saudi living in Saudi Arabia.
-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Seeing as my top 10 games of all time would change depending on the day you ask me, I am just going to put in Random games I don't think are in anyone's top 10 list:

-Blood Will Tell
-Mega Man Legends 2
-Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
-Donkey Kong Country 2
-Suikoden 2
-Some weird game in the PS1 that caused my grandfather to kick me out of the house because it had me giving a girl an orgasm by massaging her feet.

Six is as good a number as any, so here is that:

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For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

40- Earthworm Jim 2:
Year: 1995.
Genre: Action Platformer.
Publisher: Playmates.
Developer: Shiny Entertainment.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

The first Earthworm Jim surprised the world with its surreal humor, crazy protagonist, and original style. Its originality was its strongest claim to fame, as it did have its share of shortcomings that were glossed over through its unique charm.

It follows then that a sequel would not have the same surprising impact. We expect the unexpected from Earthworm Jim 2 (EJ2), and thus will not forgive its shortcomings as easily as the first game. Luckily, we wouldn't have to overly extend our mercy, because EJ2 is clearly a better game than its predecessor.

"Groovy!!"

I guess Jim, as a game protagonist, must have felt his CV lacking with its lack of princess rescue missions. Fortunately, his arch-enemy Psy-Crow is giving him the chance to rectify that mistake by kidnapping princess What's-her-name.

In an adventure worthy of the name (even if not as crazy as the first), Jim goes through several levels following Psy-Crows trail in order to save What's-her-name. While still a crazy adventure, with its fair share of humor, EJ2 feels lacking compared to the first one, most probably because it lacks the element of surprise.

Aside from its abundance of Cow Jokes, and a seriously hilarious ending, the game lacks some bite and feels more grounded than the first game. For instance, the enemies you fight are simply not as memorable as those in the first game. No Lawyer from Hell is going to attack you with law suits, and sentient filing cabinets are not an equal substitute.

Less Bite than the Original:-2
Still Crazier than Everything Else: +2



"Udderly Abducted"

Other than its humor, EJ2 is better than the first game in everything else, starting with gameplay. While the first stage might suggest a similarity between the two game, the subsequent carnival of game ideas completely changes the game.

While the game is supposedly an action platformer, the game changes tracks rapidly. One level is played vertically, with your head acting as a hot air balloon. Another charges you with rescuing Cows in a little labyrinth stage. One stage even puts you in the control of a freakish creature that floats, and end in a ridiculous game show. Not all ideas are winners, with the shooter-inspired stage being a huge bore, but the variety keeps each idea from getting stagnant.

More important than the ideas themselves is their execution, which is not nearly flawless. Carrying the problem from the first game, EJ2s mechanics are still suspect, with hit boxes the worst offender. For example, a stage charging you with protecting falling puppies asks you to catch them with a jumping cushion. Imagine the frustration a puppy's death would cause when it clearly touches the cushion but does not register it.

Fortunately, the game elevates some of the issues by being understanding and welcoming instead of unfair and obtuse. Lives are easy to get by, and you would never die due to imprecise platforming. Thus, the shortcomings of the gameplay being elevated by a forgiving game.

Huge Variety: +5

Imprecise Mechanics: -3
Forgiving Game: +2

"See Jim Run, Run Jim Run"

One mysterious change in Jim's animation from the first game is his run. Now, its always activated, and he even runs in place. It still is cute and full with personality, which it inherits from the personality found in the first game. Still, idle animations show much care, and the characters in the world move and act in hilarious manners.

Besides the animation and sprites, the graphics are crisp and clean, but show little imagination and are mostly boring rendition of alien atmosphere. See the backgrounds for example, which are good looking, but lack the imagination and movement found in some other games. Which is disappointing when compared to the personality found in the game's sprites and animation.

Both of the above issues are direct inheritance from the first game, which had lively sprites besides boring background. Yest, the sound division apparently did not get the inheritance memo.

Simply put, the soundtrack of EJ2 is divine, and aside from one soundtrack (which ironically accompanies the worst stage), is truly great. Both alien and traditional, crazy and classic, the musics evokes a sense of contradiction. Explain the moonlight sonata's 3rd movement complementing the final race between Jim and his rival. Beethoven's classic sonata offers a direct contradiction to the crazy world of Jim, and yet it works so well within the game.

This great music acts as a buffer against the rougher parts of the game, alleviating some of its frustrations. For example, I was at the end of my tether in ISE 9000, which I felt had too many mechanical problems. However, the soundtrack, which was a Pink Floyd inspired piece, was just too good for me to ever thinking about quitting the game in rage.

Great Music: +5
Moonlight Sonata: +3
Personality: +3
Boring Graphics: -2



"Puppy Love?"

After dealing with all its shortcomings, and enjoying all its advantages, you suddenly find that the game ends. Just 10 levels or so, and with little reason to replay the game, the game ends. It took me two short session to finish the game, and while other people might do so in more (or even less), it still is a short game.

When compared with other games in the SNES, even platformers, we find EJ2 to be more similar to licensed platformers like The Lion King in length, rather than original platformer like Donkey Kong. Which is disappointing, because EJ2 is an original IP that showed more imagination than can be constrained in 10 levels or so. Perhaps opting to be short and sweet game instead of a long tedious one. Nonetheless, it just ends up as a overly short, so much that if this was back in 1995, I would not recommend that anyone buys the game at full price.

Short: -4

In Conclusion:

If you think that this game wears anything on its sleeve, you would be wrong. With everyone expecting the crazy humor of the first game, EJ2 could not surprise us with that. However, it managed to surprise us with its great soundtrack, and varied gampeplay.

Even though it still has its share of problems, length and mechanical shortcomings being at the forefront. The forgiving challenge, and its other charms do make for a good game. Just not for the full price of 1995.

Final: 34/50

*****************************************************************

"Tips"
1- Press Down to Carry things.
2- ISO 9000 Boss requires you to use the wardrobe in the left.
3- The triple gun is probably the best one.

"Next Game"

While I said I will not review sport games, a gold game where Kirby is the ball is a must play. Surprisingly, at #38 Kirby's Dream Course is the highest rated Kirby game in the list. Here is hoping its not below Par.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/earthworm-jim-2/screenshots
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