After seeing the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise and the Sonic the Hedgehog games, Playmates Toys decided they wanted to develop a new franchise in-house and then rake in the bucks with video games, cartoons, toys, etc. So, they grabbed a suitcase full of cash, and hired Dave Perry and his company Shiny Interactive to make the game that would launch it all. That game ended up being Earthworm Jim.
Design-wise, Earthworm Jim carries over some of the key factors that made Perry’s previous game, Disney’s Aladdin for the Sega Genesis, such a success: great animation, characters with personality, interesting level design, and great sound.
The game itself is somewhat of a parody of the whole platforming genre. You’re a cartoon mascot trying to rescue a princess (Princess What’s-her-name, to be exact) and the main villain is Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-For-A-Butt. Yep, that’s her actual name.
So, you could say Playmates got lucky by having Perry design the game. Unfortunately, the rest of the plans didn’t quite pan out. Sure, Earthworm Jim 2 was every bit as great, if not greater, than the first game, but the cartoon only ran for two years and it’s not like kids are still buying Earthworm Jim toys or Michael Bay is making an Earthworm Jim movie any time soon.
In case you missed the game, below is a review of the SNES version. While the SNES is generally more powerful than the Genesis, the Genesis version is considered to be superior. My guess is that the team was a lot more familiar with the Genesis hardware, which made for a more fine-tuned game.