A Remake of Earthworm Jim

January 22, 2018

One of the great problems of making something that was once great but will undoubtedly be dated over time is that what we remember about old things don’t necessarily translate into our modern tastes. For Years I’ve heard people demand a new Earthworm Jim, but that could go any number of directions, most of them wrong in my opinion.

The bigger question is “Why do we have such fond memories of old things?” For instance, I love the old Gumby shorts that were crudely animated in the 1960s. They were bought up and broadcast on the cheap in the early 1970s when I was five or six years old. When Gumby was remade as a series in the late 80’s it had a polish and a production value that didn’t interest me. Part of what I liked about it was the clunkiness. It’s like if you remade the 1977 Star Wars today it wouldn’t hold my interest. I don’t love that old Star Wars to have it remade with high end digital effects, better actors and an expanded story line. I like it the way it was.

Commission of EWJ and the Princess. Ink and brush on paper.

This seems to be the key problem to any modern remake of an old idea, a new Earthworm Jim would need to have higher production values. The original Earthworm Jim of 1994 had the best production values for that time but a new game would likely be smothered in high-end CG effects and over-the-top explosions. That would make for a really cool game, but it wouldn’t make you feel like you did in 1994.

I don’t argue that new remakes can’t hold their own as a great gaming experience, but can they make you feel charmed like you did when you first played the original? Here’s the challenge; tell me if you can think of any modern remake that makes you feel the way you did when you saw the original.

12 Responses to “A Remake of Earthworm Jim”

  1. James Suddes Says:

    Sonic mania is a fine example of recreation done right.
    The only drawback is lack of 4:3 aspect ratio.
    However its a lack of corporate meddling that made the game what it was, a project of love by the fans, for the fans.
    This is also why I fell in love with armikrog, apart from the system I was playing it on, It brought me right back to my early teenage years.
    If interplay ever let you have a shot, I’d say kick-starter would be the best method.
    I’d love an ewj made by yourself and a small team, (recruit some of the familiars from the old tennapel forums) to nail the Jim experience on the head

  2. Mike Says:

    While this opinion may be controversial, I actually think the 2010 Earthworm Jim HD is very well made. It isn’t a straight port, as it was built from the ground up and has some substantial changes. It doesn’t replace the Sega Genesis/ Sega CD versions, but I think it stands on its own. I certainly prefer it over the botched SNES port.

    • I don’t think it’s controversial, though I do think the SNES port is better than the 2010 game. The thing I didn’t like about that 2010 version is they just traced over our animation (something I know had to be done for HD) and the traced drawings lacked edge and tight design principles. It could have been great looking in the hands of different artists.

      • Mike Says:

        I agree 2010’s HD Remake could have looked (and sounded) better, but the end result is decent. What it got right is that it plays pretty damn well. Aside from being a bit easier, it’s largely faithful. It’s something A LOT of late HD remakes made by different studios who aren’t simply emulating the original version get wrong.

        What makes the SNES version particularly bad is that not only is it missing an entire level and certain sound effects, the game suffers from noticeable screen crunching. This means that the player can’t see as much around them and this makes the game a lot less intuitive. For example, the moose antler shortcut on the first stage that is accessed by jump whipping off while repelling basically has to be done off memory as there is not enough time to visually react to it; the player can barely see it until after jumping.

        If another remake of Earthworm Jim were made, I’d want it supervised by you, and I’d also want it to include a remake of EWJ2. I’m still holding out hope that some day EWJ3 will happen. I think the EWJ formula of tight action platforming mixed with radically different stages appearing periodically, all wrapped up in hyper-detailed 2D graphics will still appeal to a lot of people. It has so much potential.

  3. asd1234r Says:

    Couldn’t you just purposefully limit your budget and try to recapture the original process, instead of just throwing money at it? I mean, I know CEOS will advise this, but you where in charge before, you know the whole process, why not just do that process again and then make a mental note to avoid moving forward? Perhaps even revisit hand drawing the whole process instead of using computers, something that will be sure to gain notoriety itself as no one does that anymore… all the old voice actors are still around, I’m sure the equipment and process would be cheaper than ever now that fewer people are doing it, and I can almost bet you’d find an incredibly receptive and willing audience for a hand drawn old school EWJ. It would be crowdfunded in minutes if a network didn’t pick it up immediately, plus you have more options now with places like netflix and Adult Swim to let way more of that adult humour out without having to limit it.

    Remaking it doesn’t mean you have to just throw all your money at it and give it all the newest special fx… you’e already conscious of this matter and you are conscious of what makes something good in your eyes, so that’s step one.

  4. obvioustwoll Says:

    It’s a more recent example, but the Etrian Odyssey Untold games did a fantastic job of revisiting their source material and actually improving on it. Different situation entirely from remaking a SNES-era game today though. Somebody else already mentioned Sonic Mania, and I’d look at that as a model of a true Earthworm Jim revival – as close to the original as you can get while improving on the subtle flaws that a kid like me couldn’t even have articulated back then.

    Tough question. I’d just be happy enough to get a direct port at this point that’s faithful with the graphics, music, and controls. Listening to the music on vinyl made me realize how much got lost in the port to the DS version I last played.

    • That last port wasn’t faithful, and if you thought you were missing out on the music, the game controls weren’t solid that way the original game was. (I recognize your avatar, send me a PM).

  5. I think the only good remake that comes to mind from recent years might of been oddworld new and tasty, where it takes elements from abes oddesee and adds new stuff, but at the same time feels like a brand new game rather than a copy paste remake and still retains the charm of the original.
    Also the fact that oddworlds creator, lorne lanning, was also involved may also be a factor on why the game worked for me at least, so there was some creative control.

    its a shame the same couldnt be said about the hd rema-sorry, the photoshoped traced version of earthworm jim a few years back, really did feel like a souless cash grab.

  6. Bionic Commando Rearmed

  7. Brandon Bodine Says:

    To answer the question at the end, Sonic Mania. Not necessarily a remake, but a revisit to the way things were. Something I believe Jim could do, but would only want him to do if I’m correct in saying he can. You’d know better than I, and that is judgement I can trust, despite what I want or believe.

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