Earthworm Jim 3D
|Earthworm Jim 3D|
European Nintendo 64 boxart
|Publisher(s)||Interplay Entertainment (PAL)
Rockstar Games (NA)
Earthworm Jim 3D is a platform game, the third in the Earthworm Jim series. It is a sequel to Earthworm Jim and Earthworm Jim 2, and the first game in the series to not be developed by Shiny Entertainment, as the rights had been sold to Interplay Entertainment, who handed the franchise off to VIS Entertainment. The game suffered a difficult, prolonged development cycle that was repeatedly delayed until it was released in 1999 for the Nintendo 64 and Microsoft Windows. The game was not received well, with critics claiming that the charm of the originals was lost, and that despite the long development period, the game still felt sloppy and lacked previously promoted features.
Earthworm Jim 3D borrows much of its gameplay from other platformers of the era, notably competing with Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Donkey Kong 64. New locations in Jim's brain are opened up by collecting Golden Udders, and new levels in each location are opened by collecting Jim's marbles. Like previous Earthworm Jim games, despite many platforming elements, Jim's primary method of combat comes from shooting his blaster.
Earthworm Jim is hit by a flying cow that sends him into a coma. Jim awakens within his own subconscious and discovers he has gone insane. His past villains have entered his subconscious and if something doesn't happen soon, Jim will be in the coma forever. His super ego has been unleashed within his subconscious to stop the madness. To restore his sanity he must find the Golden Udders of lucidity. When Jim enters his subconscious, he finds out that his four mind chambers have been taken over by his worst fears. He must collect Golden Udders to unlock the other three chambers and Green Marbles to unlock the levels within the chamber. Jim defeats four villains who took over his mind chambers, and finally faces the personification of his trauma: Earthworm Kim.
Shortly after the release of Earthworm Jim 2, its original developer, Shiny Entertainment was bought by Interplay Entertainment, and then put onto other projects. With them busy, the franchise was given to VIS Entertainment, and it was decided that, much like many platform game series at the time, like Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog, that gameplay would transition from 2D to 3D. Development started shortly after Earthworm Jim 2 in 1996, and had a drawn-out three year development cycle, so much so that it was at times believed it would become vaporware.
Problems arose from this extended development cycle. Much content from previews and promotional material was no longer in the final game; most notably being that the game's final packaging showed Evil the Cat as the boss of the "Fear" level, whereas Professor Monkey-For-A-Head was actually the boss of the level. Many locations displayed in early versions of the game are nowhere to be found in the released copy (such as a level set in a house, where Jim is ant-sized). Additionally, Evil Jim, Earthworm Jim's evil twin from the cartoon series, was reportedly a part of the game. Early screenshots and footage also display Jim riding his Pocket Rocket, with a fuel meter, in races and other missions, as well as snowboarding. Additionally, the game was loosely based on the Earthworm Jim TV series which by the time of release, had been off the air for more than three years, thus hurting the game's promotional tie-ins.
At the time, original series designer David Perry had sold the rights to the franchise. The characters had to be redesigned for the shift from side-scrolling 2D to free-roaming 3D. Perry and original series creator Doug TenNapel were at first involved in the game as minor consultants, but were dismissed for unexplained reasons. Both expressed that they hated what was done with Earthworm Jim 3D, but legally could not prevent anything from happening. TenNapel said he felt the series was "ruined" by the game.
The game was not considered either a critical or commercial success. Many reviews called the game uninspired, mediocre, and unable to compete with many other similar, higher reviewed platform games at the time, such as Super Mario 64, Rayman 2, or Banjo Kazooie. A major complaint was the game's camera, with GameSpot's Nintendo 64 version review stating that they felt the camera was on a "kamikaze mission to destroy the game". GameSpot's review of the Windows version was even more negative, concluding with "Earthworm Jim 3D has something to discourage all types of people from playing it. Fans of the series will be disappointed by the lackluster translation of the characters into three dimensions. Everyone else will be frustrated by the horrible camera." IGN was slightly more forgiving for the Nintendo 64 version, giving it a 7.3, praising sound, graphics, and presentation, but still criticizing the camera and lasting appeal.
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