Earthworm Jim 3D: Not Particularly Groovy N64 Outing

Earthworm Jim 3D on the Nintendo 64
Not so groovy.

After two smash hits on the SNES and Mega Drive, Earthworm Jim was all good to go on the Nintendo 64. What could go wrong!? Mediocrity. That’s what.

Earthworm Jim 3D

The main problem here is Shiny Entertainment had no involvement with the new outing.

Interplay Entertainment bought the developer around 1996 and put the staff onto other projects. And they’d called a day on Earthworm Jim, maintaining a no sequels policy.

Annoyed by that, Interplay got Edinburgh-based VIS Interactive on with a third outing. But it all fell rather flat.

Plot wise, Jim is in a coma after being hit by a flying cow (an in-joke from the series). He awakes in his subconscious to find he is officially mad.

To save himself, he most gather the golden udders of lucidity and battle his inner demons to regain consciousness.

Quite a nice idea, then, but the problem is the gameplay. Especially the utterly (udderly?) insane camera system. It’s only more flawed in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon.

Many developers around this time struggled to get to grips with the new era of 3D gaming. Only Nintendo and Rare consistently got it right.

Given the expectations surrounding a new Jim title, this did make for a big disappointment.

It launched in late 1999 (a PC version arrived in 2000), four years after the spiffing Earthworm Jim 2.

VIS Interactive did try to nail the surreal humour and whatnot. But it’s not something you can just copy and get, for the sake of it (ahem).

Here’s a bit of a taster of the gameplay that’s on offer—this is the PC version.

VIS actually planned the game for the PlayStation, but scrapped the idea for the Nintendo 64 and PC.

And there was a difficult production cycle, meaning from the initial reveal trailer in 1998 onward many elements of the finished game were different.

So it all went a bit wonky looking, from reveal to end.

The developer also tried to adapt it from the Earthworm Jim TV series, which isn’t a bad idea really. The problem is how meandering the game is.

And just average. We guess that’s the main issue, it’s just a serviceable 3D platforming game. And one up against Super Mario 64 (1996) and Banjo-Kazooie (1998). Two classics it’s not remotely near the level of.

In fact, the main thing about the game is it’s a sequel to the fantastic Earthworm Jim games from the 16-bit era.

If it were a standalone title, as with so many random titles on the Nintendo 64 back then, it would have been pretty forgettable. As it is anyway.

But it’s an interesting coda in the series’ history, as its mediocrity led to the end of Earthworm Jim. Or… did it?!

Earthworm Jim 4

Well, there’s another one set for October 2020! Fantabulous! It’s ONLY for the Intellivision Amico console, which is set for release 10 days earlier.

So it’s like Half-Life: Alyx. That delight of an old gaming glory returning, yet most people won’t get to play it. Bugger.

Anyway, other than the above run cycle that was released, there isn’t a trailer or anything like that yet.

One of the original game designers, Doug TenNapel, is fittingly working on it. So, watch this space! Hopefully it’ll make it over to some other consoles as well, eventually.

But until then, we’re chuffed to have him back!

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