Earthworm Jim is a run and gun platform video game starring an earthworm named Jim in a robotic suit who battles evil. The game was developed by Shiny Entertainment, released for the Mega Drive/Genesis in 1994, and subsequently ported to the SNES, Game Boy, Game Gear, Sega Master System, and years later, the Game Boy Advance. Upon its release it was praised for its detailed animation, polished gameplay and surreal humor; it became the first game ever to receive a 100% review in GamesMaster magazine. A special edition of the game was released for the Sega CD which features a Red Book audio soundtrack, improved graphics and expanded levels, and an even further enhanced version with redrawn, 256 colour graphics and an Earthworm Jim desktop theme, as well as all the Sega CD improvements, was released for Microsoft Windows 95. The Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version was released through Wii's Virtual Console service in Europe on October 3, 2008, and in North America on October 27, 2008. Gameloft released a version for the iPhone and Symbian S60 Devices; and has recently developed an HD version for Xbox Live Arcade.
The storyline involves many colorful characters. Jim himself (a character designed by Doug TenNapel) was at first an ordinary Earth earthworm who did very earthworm-like things such as flee from crows and eat dirt. One day, in the space above Earth, the evil Psy-Crow had cornered a rebel spaceship pilot who had stolen an "Ultra-high-tech-indestructible-super-space-cyber-suit" built by Professor Monkey-For-A-Head. The suit had been commissioned by the evil Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt so that she could further conquer the galaxy. In the ensuing space fight, the suit was dropped to Earth, and fell on Jim. By a stroke of luck, Jim managed to land within the collar of the suit, and it ended up mutating him into the large and intelligent (at least by earthworm standards) superhero he is today.
Jim overhears Psy-Crow talking to Queen Slug-for-a-Butt about the scorch marks left by the suit and her plans for her sister, Princess What's-Her-Name. Jim thus sets out to rescue the princess, fighting many enemies along the way, such as Major Mucus, Chuck and Fifi, Evil the Cat and Bob the Killer Goldfish, although none of this is apparent throughout the game.
Earthworm Jim in the 'New Junk City' level on Super NintendoThe gameplay of Earthworm Jim could be considered bizarre. Launching cows, using Jim's head as a whip, and other bizarre twists add to the insanity. The player controls Jim at all times of the game. In the level sections, Jim can run, use his gun, swing on hooks, and get powerups for the blaster. The in-between levels called Andy Asteroids place Jim in a semi-3D race against the evil Psycrow. If Psycrow wins, then Jim must fight him in one-on-one combat in order to progress. Throughout the game were many added features, such as mini-bosses whose weaknesses Jim would need to find through trial and error. Crystal treadmills, underwater pod races, and other related things also appear.
Shiny have also made references to Earthworm Jim in its later titles; their game Sacrifice features an earthworm-like god called James, and there were additional references in the game MDK. Over ten years after its original release, Earthworm Jim was the featured game in Nintendo Power's first ever edition of Playback. On the PC CD-ROM version of the game there is an Assets folder, containing a PC desktop theme and another folder named EWJ_DT00. This folder contains a picture of a boy wearing a white Snoopy shirt standing next to a screen, the words "Tin with 1,000,000 points in Activision's Laser Blast, from 1982." written in white at the top. The remaining file is a wave file 26 seconds long of someone cussing while playing Earthworm Jim, with increasing frustration due to repeatedly "getting hurt" on the game. Earthworm Jim also appears as a secret character in the first Battle Arena Toshinden game for PC.