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If you played video games in the 1990s - or even if you didn't, but you've a tendency to dip a toe in those 16-bit waters from time to time - you'll know all about Earthworm Jim. The original, run-and-gun (and jump and whip) title of 1994 earned plaudits aplenty, remaining one of the most popular games of its kind on the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo. It was followed by more games - Earthworm Jim 2, Earthworm Jim 3D, Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 The Galaxy - as well as an animated TV show, a comic and a range of toys.
But with no properly new game since 1999, fans of the super suit-wearing worm and his array of enemies have been left exclusively in the past when it comes to spending some quality time with their gaming hero of choice. That's going to change soon, however, as we've just received our first proper, public look at Earthworm Jim 4, which is in development exclusively for the new Intellivision Amico console. More on that, in a moment. First, the, um, trailer, I guess? Check it out here, or watch it below.
That's definitely Jim, alright, running one way along a beach, and then the other - classic left-to-right scenes, no doubt. And that's Evil the Cat of the Planet Heck (note the signpost) watching on from the shadows, licking himself in an idle animation manner familiar to Earthworm Jim players. And that's... it, actually. That's all we get - aside from a few audio snippets which seem to be drawn straight from the 1990s games (not that it's a problem, if the new game sounds like the old ones).
It's pretty enough, but it doesn't show anything, does it? No action. No combat. No abilities. No suggestion whatsoever that Earthworm Jim 4 will offer more than its predecessors did, or anything significantly different, or new, at all. It's disappointing that we're not shown more than Jim just running. I mean, he does a lot of running in his games - when he's not cruising through the universe, having lots of fun - but could he at least jump? We've been told about local multiplayer features, and of elements that borrow from the first two games - but again, there's none of that here, beyond the Heck stuff.
In terms of its looks, it's worth remembering that this is being made for a console (which looks like a foot spa with a couple of ipods in it) that isn't competing with the PlayStations and Xboxes of this world - it's very much designed as a throwback to simpler, 2D gaming times, and won't match the power of the bigger players in the console space when it launches in April 2021. It'll release alongside updated Intellivision games of the early 1980s, like Astrosmash and Shark! Shark!, with other retro titles like Ecco the Dolphin, Burgertime and R-Type also expected.
Earthworm Jim 4 has had quite the long and rocky development, with a few false starts along the way, so I guess seeing anything of it is something. It was announced in 2008 after a new PSP version of Earthworm Jim was cancelled, and there were various mentions of it over the years until the Amico exclusivity was confirmed by Intellivision in May 2019. Earthworm Jim 4 is being made by a bunch of the original game's creators, and that's all any of us need to say on that for risk of falling down a very dark rabbit hole.
Quite what Earthworm Jim 4's chances of reaching a decent audience are with it being locked to a retro-leaning console, aiming for a market that's moved on since the 1980s and '90s (I know, as I'm the exact sort of gamer they're after), and that's going to retail for an expected $250, with games costing up to $30, I can't say for sure. But a hunch tells me: not great, Jim. Not great.
Featured Image Credit: Intellivision, Shiny Entertainment, Virgin Interactive
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