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A much-loved platform game from Shiny Entertainment, formed when Playmates Inc. approached former Virgin Software alumnus Dave Perry (who had developed Cool Spot and Aladdin Virgin Games for Virgin) to create a marketable videogame IP to build a new multimedia sensation upon, in the spirit of their previous success, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. The title character (created by cartoonist Doug Ten Napel) is an earthworm mutated by a mechanical super-suit from space into a somewhat awkward super-hero, who takes it upon himself to stop the machinations of the Evil Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-Filled, Malformed Slug-For-A-Butt and rescue the beautiful Princess What's-Her-Name. His adventure takes him from the scrap heaps of New Junk City to the sweltering fire-pits of Planet Heck (home of the aptly-named Evil the Cat) to Level 5, the lair of the evil Mad Scientist who invented Jim's super-suit, Professor Monkey-for-a-Head. All the while, Jim is pursued by Psy-Crow, Queen Slug-for-a-Butt's right-hand man who is intent on getting the suit back.
Yes. It's that kind of game.
In the sequel, Jim must traverse the galaxy again, this time to save Princess What's-Her-Name from a Shotgun Wedding to Psy-Crow. Jim's travels take him through the summer homes of many villains from the previous games, with such exotic locales as collapsing underground tunnels, intestines (while wearing a cave salamander costume), a carnival run by Evil the Cat, and a planet made up entirely of paperwork.
The third game, Earthworm Jim 3D for the Nintendo 64 and PC, had Jim taking a Journey to the Center of the Mind after one too many falling cows to the head. A Game Boy Color title, Menace 2 The Galaxy, was also released.
However in 2010 a remake of the original game, "Earthworm Jim HD", finally made its way to the Play Station Network and Xbox Live with enhanced graphics, sound, 4 player co-op, new levels and the option of the original Nintendo Hard difficulty for the purists. But oddly missing the secret "Who Turned Out The Lights?" level.
A new, fourth game, is now rumored to be in the works, along with a new cartoon and motion picture, supervised by franchise creator Doug Tennapel. However it seems that a fourth title is not in development. But Doug confirms that interplay is interested.
True to Playmates' intentions of turning the series into a multimedia sensation, the series also spawned a cult-classic animated adaptation and a line of action figures to match, and in light of their reputation, all of them have fared signifigantly better than other similar attempts such as Battletoads, Bubsy or even Cheetahmen.
This game is the Trope Namers for:
- Planet Heck: The second level. Home of Evil the Cat, lawyers and elevator music.
- Level Ate: From Earthworm Jim 2. It's made of burgers, bacon, cheese, fried eggs, and other delightfully fatty foods. Also, it's the 8th level.
This series features examples of:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Cheap Chaps-Chopping Chips. Say that five times fast.
- Amoral Attorney: One of the more common enemies on Planet Heck are, naturally, evil attorneys that can block your shots with their briefcase.
- Anthropomorphic Food: As expected from the Trope Namers of Level Ate. You get to fight a firebreathing steak.
- Anvil on Head: In the games, Jim throws an anvil onto a rudimentary plank-on-stone seesaw to vault himself onto the next level. Sometimes, his aim is a little off.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Peter Puppy. Aww, what a cute little pu--OH GOD!!
- Big Boo's Haunt: The "Fear" brain in the third game.
- Bleak Level: "The Villi People".
- Bottomless Magazines: If the player drops below a certain amount of ammunition (500 shots) for Jim's default blaster, it will slowly replenish itself until it hits that number again once Jim stops firing. Which is good, since running out would spell disaster when dealing with Peter Puppy (who stops and ducks when he's shot at) or Evil Queen Slug-For-A-Butt (who just takes a lot of hits).
- Brick Joke: The cow.
- Brown Note: Peter Puppy changes into an evil monster every time he is hurt, and, in the cartoon, changes back when tickled.
- But Thou Must!: You have to launch the cow into orbit on the first level.
- Camera Screw: The main problem with Earthworm Jim 3D.
- Canon Immigrant: Snot
- Cats Are Mean: Evil the Cat. He is in the words of the creators "the manifestation of evil in its truest form (the cat)".
- Number 4, Bob's invincible and very mean hench-cat.
- Chain-Reaction Destruction: Bosses are prone for that.
- Directionally Solid Platforms
- Drop the Cow: Quite literally.
- Down the Drain: Down the Tubes
- Easy Mode Mockery: In talkie versions, instead of the ending you get a lecture about worms from Jim himself. You get the full ending on normal difficulty and a very uplifting speech if you finish on hard.
- Everythings Funkier With Disco: "Boogie Nights of the Living Dead" from Earthworm Jim 3D. Also, Billy the Bin's theme from the HD remake of the first game.
- Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Granny Bag from Earthworm Jim 2.
- Escort Mission: "For Pete's Sake", although the puppy you're escorting ALSO happens to be the biggest threat of the level. Several levels in the sequel task Jim to use a giant marshmallow to save Petey's children from being thrown out the window. It's roughly 357% less aggravating than the first game's Petey level.
- Earthworm Jim 2 also contains "The Flyin' King", a level in Isometric Projection where Jim flies his handy Pocket Rocket through the hazardous skies to the boss. In order to beat the level, you have to gently bump a fragile and highly explosive balloon to the very end. If it ruptures before meeting the boss, you have to go back to the beginning to try again.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: In the PAL versions, "The Villi People" level was called, "Jim's now a Blind Cave Salamander!"
- Expy: In the HD remake, one of the new bosses is an obvious expy of Keyboard Cat.
- Funny Background Event: In the higher-end versions of the first game, the cow can be seen periodically going by in the background in later levels.
- Gainax Ending: Done for hilarious effect in the second game: "And so, having defeated the nefarious , our hero,  wins back the heart of the lovely "
- Gasshole: The boss of New Junk City.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The Pocket Rocket. Really?!
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Jim uses his own head as a whip.
- Grossout Game: The Title Scream is belched, rather than actually screamed. Let this set the tone for the rest of the game.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: Combined with Psycho Strings to make the music for Intestinal Distress.
- Hitbox Dissonance: Throughout many levels, many walls and ledges...aren't. Leading sometimes to some frustratingly cheap deaths, but also used to hide secret paths. Especially obvious in the final level.
- I See London: In one of Jim's idle animations, his pants will fall down. It's probably best not to ask why a mech suit has heart-print boxers.
- Juggling Loaded Guns: Two of his idle animations are to twirl his blaster on his finger, throw it in the air, catch it and holster it. The aversion is done successfully, with no harm done. In the second (straight) version he catches it wrong, and it blasts him in the face. (Unfortunately, his head does not asplode.) A third idle animation splits the difference — after Jim tosses the gun in the air, it lands on his head, but doesn't go off.
- Landfill Beyond the Stars: Subverted with New Junk City, which appears to fit the trope, but research on the game reveals that the level is a city-sized landfill in Texas, of all places.
- Mad Scientist: The inventor of Jim's suit, Professor Monkey-For-A-Head.
- Metronomic Man-Mashing: A tiny cat mook will do this to Jim if he approaches it. Then again, it's a really fast way to skip parts of the level if you have enough energy to endure it.
- Mismatched Eyes: Jim.
- More Dakka: Jim's gun.
- Nintendo Hard
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Professor Monkey-For-A-Head originally invented Jim's suit, so why doesn't he just make another one? The monkey ate the plans after the prototype suit (what Jim wears) was made; he's after Jim to get the prototype so he can make a new one via reverse engineering.
- Papa Dog: The "Puppy Love" levels in the second game involve trying to save Peter Puppy's kids, using a giant marshmallow, when Psy-Crow tries to throw them out a window. Let four get killed, and Peter rips Jim apart. Why he doesn't rip Psy-Crow apart is left nebulous.
- Platform Game
- Poison Mushroom: The Bubble Gun in the second game, although not directly harmful, is intentionally useless and meant to inconvenience the player. Worse in the Genesis version, which didn't allow for weapon swapping.
- Pop Quiz: Spoofed in EJ2, where the quiz halfway through "Villi People" features ridiculous joke questions like "If cigarettes cause cancer, what causes Capricorn? A) Poor-fitting shoes in southern France B) Dental Floss C) One and one half pounds of butter"
- Public Domain Soundtrack: What the Heck starts with music based off one, but switches to a different melody soon afterward.
- Punny Name: The levels "New Junk City" and "Lorenzen's Soil" from the first and second game are named after two films, New Jack City and Lorenzo's Oil (Lorenzen is also one of the game developers). The "Andy Asteroids?" segments from EJ1 are named after another developer, Andy Astor. And the Big Bruty is named after yet another developer, Nick Bruty.
- Rogues Gallery
- Rule 34: One of the characters is anthro, so no surprise there.
- Save the Princess: Parodied.
- Schmuck Bait: Parodied in the manual for the SNES version - it claimed that the X button "turns on the porch light of Mrs. Schultz in Germany. So quit pressing it!" So naturally, what did everyone who read the manual do? Press the button. In the end averted as it does nothing at all.
- Shows what you know. It's made her complain about it for years, is what it does.
- Done again in the manual for part 2, where the D-Pad "withdraws all moneys from your bank account and transfers them to Shiny Entertainment. It also makes Jim move."
- The manual of the Genesis version of 2 says that the B-button "orders a large pepperoni pizza" in the The Flyin' King -level. Again, it does nothing.
- Sequel Difficulty Drop: Compared to the first game, Earthworm Jim 2 has a lot less instant death traps (Generally just bottomless pits, and even those are rare in 2), easier bosses, and generally less frustrating levels.
- Shaggy Dog Story: Both original games. Both times for laughs.
- Shark Tunnel: "Down the Tubes"
- Shout-Out: In the trailer for the HD remake, one of the new levels it shows features a Cool Shades-wearing Musical Assassin cat playing a keyboard. This is likely a reference to the Keyboard Cat.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "What The Heck?" starts with a snippet from Mussorgsky's "Night on the Bald Mountain", then switches to elevator music backed by screams of pain.
- Of course, it's probably all too fitting considering the screams are apparently from actual people.
- Stealth Pun: Quite a lot. For example, one enemy in "What the Heck?" is a snowman, a reference to the phrase "a snowball's chance in hell".
- Straw Scientist: Doug Ten Napel, a self-professed Creationist (believer in Intelligent Design), has said that the Professor Monkey-For-A-Head character was created as a dig at some of his Darwinist teachers.
- Supernatural Aid
- Suspiciously Similar Song: Listen to the tune that Fatso, the real Keyboard Cat, plays. Now listen to the one his lawyer-friendly counterpart plays.
- Take That: The quiz in the second game has few, such as:
- Q. These walk down stairs, alone or in pairs.
- A. Toys that were metal but are now plastic and not nearly as cool as they used to be.
- Title Belch
- Tube Travel: The second game had this in the ISO 9000 level, though it looked painful (the entrance was a grinder).
- Visual Pun: The homing missiles in the second game are shaped like houses.
- Wake Up Call Boss: Psy-Crow in 3D.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Averted with the cow you launch in "New Junk City".
- Womb Level: "Intestinal Distress" in the first game, and "The Villi People" in the second.
- A Worldwide Punomenon: Just one example: the boss of Level Ate is a fire-breathing steak named Flamin' Yawn.
- Earthworm Jim,
- Princess What's-Her-Name.