A much prettier but mostly same can of worms.
Earthworm Jim is one of those classic cases of the so-called "mascot wars" of the 1990s videogame industry. At the time, everyone wanted to have their own like anthropomorphic hero; we got bats, possums. and in Interplay's case, a worm.
[image1]How, you say ask, can a worm be "anthropomorphic-ized" if it doesn't even have limbs? Don't ask me! (You're thinking way too hard.) But now, more than fifteen years later, Gameloft has their mind set on reviving the franchise, that was proverbially left to the worms, as an HD remake of the first game in the series.
If you are one of the nostalgic folks who still has fond memories of the original Earthworm Jim games from the Genesis days, this remake is obviously for you. All the 2D artwork has been redrawn and looks great. Earthworm Jim was known for its hilarious animations, and the high definition art only makes them better. This is one of the best-looking 2D sprite-based games available for download, clear and simple.
Sadly, the same can`t be said for the gameplay. If they were aiming for a realistic portrayal of controlling an earthworm, they nailed it. As a side-scroller, Earthworm Jim plays well, but everything else is a mess. As soon as you have to traverse any obstacle, everything falls apart due to the painfully unresponsive controls.
[image2]Climbing a simple horizontal chain turns into an ordeal if you happen to wish to jump up a platform. You simply won't. As much as you push up on the analog stick and jump, Jim only jumps down, often leading to frustrating deaths. His trademark "worm whip", a sort of Indiana Jones swinging mechanic, is also extremely finicky with an ultra-sensitive analog stick movement that becomes a huge pain in certain spots in the game.
This remake does have an exclusive feature that is surprisingly strong - online and local multiplayer. Up to four worms can join a limbless crusade in 16 original levels based on the single-player campaign. The whole run can take up to two hours, depending on whom you have the luck of pairing with. These levels are challenging and fun, though also torturous if your friends aren't keeping up with the pace.
The two-dimensional side-scrolling section of Xbox Live Arcade has been quickly filling up with very cool games, and it has become harder to say "pick up this game without blinking". Though Earthworm Jim HD has wonderful graphics and is fairly inexpensive, it suffers from a lot of control problems that will make you want it to borrow back into the ground it came from.