|Its Earthworm Jim again
kids, but wait
its not just Earthworm Jim, its EJ in 3D! What does that
mean? Absolutely nothing. This game is every other EJ game ever made; the only new feature
this game brings to the table is a terribly designed camera that makes it about twice as
hard as it needs to be, and 3D character models that, if you ask me, actually rob the
villains of any of the charm they had as well-done 2D crows and what have you.
But, before I get into explaining why this game is a colossal monument to mediocrity, I guess I might as well try to find something good about it. If you are a person who is fanatical about the Earthworm Jim franchise, this is obviously a game for you, although you might view the transition from 2 to 3D as very similar to what happened on the N64 to Caselvaniathe game works in a three-dimensional environment, but it seems forced, and the transition seems unnecessary. The confined gameplay of the 2D versions actually made the game more palatable in the sense that everything seemed to be positioned intentionallythis game feels sporadic at best, and just randomly generated at worst. Like its predecessors, EJ3D is full of a certain "wacky" humor that is somewhat hit and miss, but occasionally fairly entertaining. Some of the weapons and enemies are clever, and will give you pause to chucklebut only a very short pause.
The plot, such as it is, goes as follows: Jim, sometime after the last game, is celebrating his victory with an accordion solo when a meteor falls from the sky and, tragically, does not entirely kill him. Jims Superego survives, and undertakes a quest to restore power to each of Jims four brainsMemory, Happiness, Fear, and Fantasy. Each of the areas (consisting of three sections each)feature an EJ supervillain (Psycrow, Fatty Roswell, Professor Monkey For a Head, and Bob the Goldfish), a vaguely related backdrop that could pretty much apply regardless of the overall "plot", and a series of enemies that grow wearisome in short order. Jim must collect a certain number of marbles scattered throughout the levels (get it, thats "wacky" humor of about the same subtlety as any you will find in here), as well as several "Golden Udders" to complete the game. Jim will have an arsenal of (again, wacky) level specific weapons with which to perform his quest, including such side-busters as the Egg Chucker, the Cleaver Gun, the Groovie Gun, and the Pea Shooter, many of which do the exact same thing.
Briefly, the levels go as follows: Memory places Jim in the "Great Farmyard War of 72", which is to say, a tedious barn-themed level; Happiness places you in a, well, tedious canyon/cave/kitchen level that seems to have little to do with happiness of any sort, certainly on the part of the player; Fear (which breaks the trend and seems somewhat appropriate) puts you in a haunted house, a sewer, and other spooky (and dont forget wacky) blocks of grainy pixels; and Fantasy puts you in an Old West packed with sociopathic old people. If there is any bright spot to this bland sea of levels, it is probably the "Boogie Nights of the Living Dead" section which, yes, pits you against Disco Zombiesalthough, even that experience doesnt really live up to its billing.
But the camera, again, is ultimately the worst enemy in the game. It functions either in the "follow" position, or stationary at one angle. Because this game is 3D, that leads to some problems when things approach you from more than one direction, and some problems with jumping and that sort of thing. A close second for worst game feature is the fact that the levels dont have checkpoints, and some of them are massively, hideously, frustratingly long. There is nothing worse than playing the same uninteresting level six hundred times just to move on to what you soon realize is an equally uninteresting level.
The N64 has more than enough 3D platformers by a factor of ten. This one not only treads no new ground, it doesnt even tread the old ground very effectively. If you really want a game like this, pick up Banjo-Kazooie, DK64, or really anything else. If you must rent this game to convince yourself that it really is a waste of time, then do so; but for the love of God dont buy it unless you own stock in Interplay
On a final note, having said all of that about the game, it would be somewhat hypocritical of me to recommend the BradyGames strategy guide since I dont think anyone should consider even playing EJ3D, but, if you are determined to play this game, the guide will help you finish it with a great deal less frustration. The level maps are genuinely useful, and because this game involves collecting often hidden objects, your wandering around time will be significantly reduced by a map of where to find the obnoxious marbles. But again, why you would want to go through that much trouble for so little payoff is beyond me. Its almost wacky.