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Now look, this one is a bit tenuous, but it tickled my interest, so maybe it will yours, too. Back in 2019, Disney acquired 20th Century Fox for a whopping £54.7 billion. It's enough to bring tears to your eyes - but that's why we now have The Simpsons on Disney+, so despite a lot of criticism over the horizontal merger and its impact on television and film access and industry competition, we're winners. Right?
So Disney and Fox are a thing now, united for a common cause. Or something like that. But rewind to the mid-1990s, and the two giants of the entertainment world were brought together not via a multi-billion-dollar acquisition, but by a cartoon worm wearing a supersuit. Yes indeed, boys and girls, we're talking about the guy who's so groovy, who's mighty fine, and has a habit of rocketing through the sky: Earthworm Jim.
Earthworm Jim is making a comeback soon, with Earthworm Jim 4 coming exclusively to the Intellivision Amico console. Check out its debut trailer below.
Earthworm Jim started as a video game, but soon expanded to encompass toys, comics, and even a television cartoon - yes, those were nods to its theme tune's lyrics, just then. It began as an original idea at Californian studio Shiny Entertainment, where company founder, the Northern Ireland-born David Perry, wanted to take his experience of working on licensed 16-bit games like Disney's Aladdin and The Terminator to develop an all-new IP. The small team at Shiny soon conspired to create a character, and a brand, that'd quickly transcend the gaming world.
Earthworm Jim, the game, debuted on the SEGA Mega Drive and Super Nintendo in October 1994. Speaking to EDGE magazine for the publication's October 1994 issue, Perry said of the supersuit-wearing earthworm: "We will have, no matter what, a successful character. The people we're using have the potential to take it all the way to Turtles standard. It's all down to the public, now."
And the public was impressed: after critics found Earthworm Jim to be a high-quality running-and-gunning platformer, shot through with off-kilter humour that echoed similarly oddball TV shows like Beavis And Butt-Head and Ren & Stimpy, players bought the game in their droves. A number of ports followed, with Earthworm Jim finding its way to the Game Boy, Game Gear, PC (in a Whole Can O' Worms bundle with its 1995 sequel), Master System, Mega CD and, a few years later in 2001, the Game Boy Advance. A whip-crackin' lark with gameplay varied enough to ensure the left-to-right stuff never grew stale, it's a game that still plays well today, although its difficulty spikes can trip even experienced old-school players up.
Earthworm Jim was a hit, then - and it remains so today, as the evergreen appeal of both the first game and its titular protagonist has hardly waned in the last 27 years. An HD remake came out in 2010 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and the original game's been rereleased too, on the SEGA Mega Drive Mini in 2019 and on the Evercade in 2020. And now there's an all-new title on the horizon. Intellivision's revival of the character for what's probably the Amico's highest-profile exclusive, Earthworm Jim 4, will see Jim - and his complementary cast of murderous crows and mutating puppies, waspish princesses and, well, Evil the Cat - reach a fresh audience of young players, alongside their parents. Assuming the console achieves its ambitious goal of cutting through the existing array of home consoles and game-streaming platforms, that is.
But, I hear you ask: what has any of this got to do with Earthworm Jim bringing Disney and The Simpsons together? Okay, let's do this - but I remind you, once more, that this is tenuous.
David Perry set up Shiny Entertainment in the wake of working as the director on the exceptionally good Disney's Aladdin, for the Mega Drive. It was his final game before Earthworm Jim took his career to a new level. Earthworm Jim blossomed into so much more than a game - and its animated TV show, also titled Earthworm Jim, debuted in the autumn of 1995 and ran for 23 episodes.
And who played Jim in the show? That, friends, was Dan Castellaneta, known to millions of fans around the world as the voice of Homer Simpson. The shrieks and screams of the two characters aren't quite the same - but you can definitely hear the similarities. So there's your connection - careful not to strain it too much, as it is a very weak one. And we all had some fun, learning something, didn't we. Didn't we.
And if you want to take the original, 1994 Earthworm Jim for a spin today, you can do without paying a penny for the pleasure. The game is available to stream, for free, on Antstream Arcade, right now - and it's GAMINGbible's game of the month on the platform, right now (following our previous picks Metal Slug and Mortal Kombat). You'll find thousands of arcade and old-school console games on Antstream Arcade, so, if that tickles you just like this nugget of barely relevant trivia tickled me, you just might like what you see.
Featured Image Credit: Playmates Interactive, Shiny Entertainment
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