Reviews Archive
           
  Earthworm Jim
 
 
 
  Graphics
         
    Mega Drive/Genesis Mega/Sega CD SNES
         
   
   
         
   
   
         
   
         
   
   
         
  Detail
 

Mega Drive - This is the original version of the game, the foundation that the other versions were built from. It uses the Mega Drive's higher resolution mode, has some very nice, imaginative backgrounds, fantastic character sprites with impressive animation, and a generally excellent design with many nice touches and humour.

The only thing I would say against the graphics is that the backgrounds tend to look a little flat, and the dithering (see here for more details) can be quite noticeable when using high end cables or emulators.

Mega CD - Basically the same as the Mega Drive version, there are some minor extra details added here, and there but the game generally looks the same most of the way through.

SNES - Firstly, when converting from Mega Drive to SNES developers always face one problem, the different horizontal screen resolutions of the two machines, the usual solution to this problem that most companies would take is quite simple, they would use the SNES' lower resolution mode, cut the left and right hand sections of the screen off, and then stretch the image to fit the TV screen. So the first point here is that the SNES version is in lower resolution, and unfortunately has warped graphics (you can see this in the sprite screen shot above which is fatter than usual, and in the first two level screen shots which have less horizontal screen area).

Enough of the bad, on to the good, many of the backgrounds seem to have been entirely re-drawn, adding some very nice extra details, two levels which spring to mind are Evil the Cat's boss fight (see screenshot 2) and the sky section of "Snot a Problem" which now has a detailed cloud background as opposed to the basic blue background seen in the original. "For Pete's Sake" (see above) has also been changed, but in this instance I personally feel that it was for the worse as I prefer the original background and colour scheme, and feel that the new design is a little haphazard, it does have parallax scrolling now, but the perspective is wrong (planet's in orbit should not scroll that fast and wrap around the screen).

Lastly onto effects, the SNES version has a new, and very nice lens flare effect on the first stage (see screenshot 1), but apart from that it doesn't seem to have any other additions later on, it actually also has a downgraded effect for the "Down the Tubes" level, originally the entire screen waved back and forth to appear underwater, but now in the SNES version the effect is only utilized for one of the background layers. Other than that the transparent foreground clouds in "What the Heck" are also missing for some reason (most noticeable on the snowman boss fight).

Even when taking into account the stretched graphics (which do actually get to me a little), I would say that the SNES version has the best overall graphics detail of the three.

 
  Winner is: SNES
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  Colour  
 

Mega Drive - A fantastic use of colour throughout which matches the game style extremely well.

Mega CD - Seems to be pretty much identical to the Mega Drive version.

SNES - Many areas have been re-coloured with a much more vibrant and brighter pallet, many more colours have been used compared to the original version, with a lot of the dithered sections in the original replaced with extra colours.

 
  Winner is: SNES
  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Animation
 

Mega Drive - Very high quality animation that contains loads of charm.

Mega CD - For the most part its pretty similar to the Mega Drive version, I did however notice some new standing animations in this version.

SNES - The animation in this version seems to be pretty much the same as the original, I even checked a few of the actions in slow motion and couldn't find any missing or additional frames at all.

 
  Winner Is: Mega CD
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  Scrolling
 

Mega Drive - Very smooth scrolling.

Mega CD - Pretty much the same as the original.

SNES - Remember earlier when I said the Mega Drive version's backgrounds tended to look a little flat? well that issue has been solved here as most of the levels of the SNES version have extra parallax added to them (parallax scrolling is a trick which simulates depth by moving the background layers at different speeds). The parallax looks very nice and works well.

 
  Winner Is: SNES
 
  Sound
   
  Music
 

Mega Drive - An eclectic mix of musical genre's and a very good use of the system's sound chip. Many of the songs contain that easily identifiable sound style specific to the hardware.

Mega CD - The music has been completely re-done, and being on the CD format the general quality of the Mega CD versions' music is substantially higher.

SNES - I'm not the greatest audiophile on earth, but to me some of the tracks, such as the one from "What the Heck" sound better here than in the original, whilst other beat heavy tracks such as the one from "Snot a Problem" sound much worse, many of the others sound similar to the Mega Drive version's but less clear and more muffled.

Overall I would say that the levels with worse music outnumber those that are improved leaving the SNES version the one with the weakest sounding music overall.

 
  Winner Is: Mega CD
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  Sound FX
 

Mega Drive - Really impressive, huge amounts of great sound effects and brilliant voice samples, certainly more than most 16-bit games of the time.

Mega CD - All the original sound effects are retained and many new ones are added to this version, this version's sound quality also benefits from the CD format

SNES - This is definitely far inferior to the Mega Drive version. At first I thought that only a few sounds were missing, but as the game went on I came to realize that there's loads gone, in fact, I would go as far as to say that over half of the original sound effects may well have been cut.

Some of the ones I noticed which were missing were Jim's "Oh Yeah" (when you reach a continue point), "Sweet Doggy" (full life power-up), and "Wham" (more powerful bullets) all these FX were replaced with the generic "Yippee" (from the normal bullets). "Whoa Nelly" and "Groovy" were still retained for some sections but not all. One of the things which I did feel was notably unfortunate was that all of Pete's sound effects were removed, on the SNES version they just re-used the 1st stage dog enemy's sounds, which is a shame as Pete is kind of a main character in the series.

Apart from those I noticed a few bits and pieces such as the orange guys from "Down the Tubes" who now use Evil the Cat's FX instead of their own, and the hamster's bite sound.

Apparently all the cuts were due to problems caused by cartridge size constraints.

 
  Winner Is: Mega CD
   
Gameplay

Mega Drive - Earthworm Jim is primarily a run n' gun game at its core with you spending much of your time shooting enemies and jumping gaps, an interesting feature of the game is Jim's ability to use his body as a whip for grappling things in the levels and swinging over hazards.

Apart from the more traditional levels the game also contains a very surprising amount of variation with some levels trying out very different gameplay styles, such as navigating a submarine around caverns, or fighting an enemy whilst bungee jumping.

Mega CD - This version has an added password system, a new homing missile power-up, extended stages and a bunch of new levels, these levels are not simple re-treads of existing ideas and all seem to bring their own new things to the game.

During the course of gameplay I also noticed there'd been a few minor tweaks here and there too, such as some of the continue points being moved. Due to all these factors I feel that the Mega CD version has the best gameplay of the three, though this version does have the longest load times (they're not really that long though so its not too much of a sore point).

SNES - The size constraint issues rear their ugly heads again as this version is missing a level, "Intestinal Distress" and now also has added load times over the Mega Drive version (due to them having to compress the information to help it fit I'd imagine) the load times are however very short and non-intrusive.

The last major issue with this version is caused by the earlier mentioned screen stretching, due to the left and right halves of the screen being cut you now have less reaction time in this version than usual, this makes the 2nd stage of "Down the Tubes" significantly harder as when in the submarine you have to move much more tentatively as you can't see as far ahead, I estimate that the SNES version on average adds roughly 5-10 seconds to my time in this section. Other areas affected by the cut down screen size include many of the boss fights which are now more confined, and some of the jumps.

Winner Is: Mega CD
 
Presentation

Mega Drive - Very impressive for it's time, a lot of time and love must have been put into the game during the design stage.

SNES - A lot of of the major part of the work on this version seems to have gone into the background art, everything else seems to be much the same as the Mega Drive version.

Mega CD - Loads of nice new touches added in, as well as some truly impressive loading screens.

Winner Is: Mega CD

 

 
  Conclusion
 

Firstly, as far as I'm concerned the main summary of the SNES version is that though it has some issues with screen stretching it still wins out on graphics over the other two versions, but loses out on both gameplay and sound. If the graphics had been more of a white wash, and if the gameplay was more on par with the other versions then it could've stood a chance at winning this comparison but as it is the Mega Drive version still gives the SNES a run for its money on graphics anyway (For Pete's Sake, What the Heck, Down the Tubes), and gameplay wise in my opinion the SNES version missing a level is a pretty important issue, for this reason I'm placing this version last, though its still a very nice version of the game and should definitely be checked out by fans for its impressive graphics alone.

Between the Mega Drive and Mega CD versions there truly is no contest, the Mega CD version has everything the Mega Drive version has along with a password system, CD quality music, more levels, more sound effects and more animations, the only small point the Mega Drive version has in its favour is the lack of load times but this point is pretty insignificant when looking at all the Mega CD version's bonuses.

  Overall Winner Is: Mega CD
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