A platform game initially developed for the SNES and Sega Mega Drive (and later ported to the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation) by Shiny Entertainment. The central concept of the Jim games was to accept that the platform game is not exactly the most logical or consistent model of real life*, and exploit this suspension of disbelief to create completely surreal situations. Earthworm Jim 2 succeeds in being one of the finest platform games ever created, thanks to virtuosity in all departments.

The plot, such as it is, has Jim trying to rescue Princess What's-her-name from the evil Psy-Crow. Every level of the game (with the exception of the three Puppy Love stages) is completely different - roughly half of these levels are platform-based puzzles while the rest are sort of subgames with new control systems and/or physics to contend with. The stages are:

The artwork is comprised of thousands of animation cels for the characters, and a mixture of highly detailed painting and some rendered elements for the backgrounds. This is definitely the least 'tile-based' looking platform game on a 16-bit system. It initially looks a little rough around the edges, but further into the game the scenes become more fantastic.

The sound is equally professional, with all the standard cartoony sound effects and some atmospheric tunes. Technically the game is nearly faultless, which is all the more impressive when you consider it was developed on two very different machines at the same time.

The only complaint I have is that the difficulty level, while sufficiently high to ensure the game has a long lifespan, is a bit unforgiving for less hardened players - even passwords have to be earned by collecting hard-to-reach items in the levels! That said, with the wonders of emulation you can save at any point should you so wish. Also the Puppy Love stages, while great to look at, get a bit tedious after a while. Overall, this is an excellent game that should be well worth picking up on its inevitable Game Boy Advance release.

*In what other genre would we accept the bizarre premise of the Super Mario games?

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