In a just world, Earthworm Jim 2's predecessor would have been the sequel because it's the better game. Of course, the same could be said for almost every sequel ever made. So I guess it doesn't really matter.
That should answer the glaring question about whether Earthworm Jim 2 is better than the original Earthworm Jim. Earthworm Jim 2 SUCKS when you compare it to Earthworm Jim! But look at how high the action-adventure bar got raised when Earthworm Jim hit the shelves. Earthworm Jim 2 simply had a lot to live up to. So does the inferiority of Earthworm Jim 2 to Earthworm Jim make it a bad game? By no means. Although it does mean I wouldn't have been recommending anyone to pay full price for it when it was released back in the day, though.
For his second video game go-around, Jim ramped up his trademark quirky sense of humor to an unheard-of level. That is, even Jim has a sense of humor now. In the first game, Jim was kind of lifeless except for his pocket rocket-riding and his occaisional gun juggling. In Earthworm Jim 2, Jim runs around with a goofy grin on his face and a tiny Elvis collection that comes out to play if he's held up for too long. These funny little animations go far in the way of making Jim an even more likeable character than he was last time. And the enemies and scenery both play out their roles: A section in the first level has Jim avoiding falling grandmas that pound him on his head if he gets hit by one of them. Evil the Cat flies by spinning his tail. Little plants spit up full-sized cows that have dynamite stuck in their heads. One level has Jim running across several kinds of grilled food. Even the guys who wrote the manuel got into the act. Even under the table of contents, you'll also find a contents of table and a table of continents.
Wacky funny? Yes. Childish? Definitely. Unfortunately, the humor comes at the cost of the gameplay. It seems that the designers got so wrapped up in trying to tickle the funny bone that they forgot what tickles the brain's pleasure center.
The back story finds Jim re-inflating Princess What's-Her-Name after her little "accident" at the end of the original Earthworm Jim (and of course we all know why it really happened, don't we?) and proceeding to impress her in all sorts of typical guy ways: Flying his Pocket Rocket at terminal velocity with the stereo blaring, lifting things ten times heavier than he is, et cetera. Finally having her attention caught by the big bulge in his back pocket (not his Pocket Rocket... ....... And not THAT bulge. Bank account, you sick perverts.), she decides that Jim will be her prince after all. But remember, Jim only killed What's-Her-Name's evil and hideously ugly twin sister, Queen Malformed, Sweaty, Pus-Filled Slug-For-A-Butt (there's some more...). He only smacked Psy-Crow around a few times, so Crow lived on to be able to leap out from behind a big rock really, really close and kidnap the Princess. From there, he takes her to the Lost Vegas universe for a quickie wedding so he can become the infallable Overlord of the Universe. Guess what Jim has to do! Sheesh, it's always about some hoochie, isn't it?
Fortunately, Jim's experience from the last game left him a bit wiser, and so he's smart enough to not try to tackle a cross-universe journey on his own. Jim has a new friend named Snott who piggybacks inside of Jim's pack. Snott's role is that of a sometimes-parachute to slow any long fall Jim may make (apparently, Jim's helicopter from the first game left him with some back problems) and a sometimes-vine for Jim to swing to unreachable areas.
Jim still carries around his usual machine gun and head whip, but unlike the first game, he can find a plethora of big guns to bring the pain. He can still use those ultra-powerful plasma blasts, but this time homing missles, three-way blasters, kill-everything guns and even a useless (but pretty!) bubble gun are added to the mix. While some of these guns prove their worth in later levels, others are useless. And it really doesn't matter anyway, since Jim won't get to use most of these Acme-like weapons outside of the first level. Jim's head whip is still there, but any use you may have for it is pretty much nonexistant. Pretty much every enemy in the game is vulnerable to gunfire, and the Tarzan swing function is (very thankfully) covered by pal Snott.
I've already mentioned that the gameplay suffers. The weapon selection's lack of usefulness is one reason. This lack of usefulness comes from the fact that there's so much variety in the levels that Jim doesn't even run into these weapons half the time. Matter of fact, some of these weapons never even appear out of the first level. And when they do appear, they often come in such limited supply that it's tough to really make the most of them. While Jim still gets to play with the machine gun, there is often no reason to do so.
On to the levels. Are they creative? Most definitely. Brilliantly designed? For the most part. Fun? Still there. No, the problem is simply that most levels are simply too short, and the concepts often aren't as dragged out as they could be. The designers seem to have wasted so much of their creativity on the concepts and humor that they forgot how to make fun levels. The first level, Anything But Tangerines, is too short and far too easy to even make a significant warm-up. The second level, Lorenzo's Soil, is easily the best. The level has Jim using a sandblaster to shoot his way through a dirt cave and has the right length and challenge. There are THREE levels which have the sole purpose of bouncing Peter Puppy's kids off a giant marshmallow so they don't fall and go splat. One would have been fine, but three is just lazy. Villi People has an interesting concept, Jim floating around as a salamander, but it's too short and simplified. In Inflated Head, Jim inflates his head to float to the top while avoiding Evil the Cat. Aside from floating, Jim doesn't get to do anything. The Flyin' King is a Zaxxon-like shooting level where Jim escorts a bomb to Major Mucus before blowing it up. If you play the level right, there's no challenge. All the other levels, with the exception of Level Ate, are just frustratingly short and easy.
The amount of variety in the gameplay is staggering, but that's ultimately a good thing. And you certainly have to give the designers credit for being ambitious, whether you love or hate the game. The first game has the one-up in actual design and challenge. Remember the maddening white-knuckle pod race near the end of Down the Tubes? How about the challenge of juggling enemies and Peter Puppy in For Pete's Sake? That creative bungee-jumping contest against Major Mucus? Well, you won't find anything like those events in Earthworm Jim 2. You'll just find a bunch of nice little gimmicks that, while a lot of fun to play with, just don't enhance the gameplay like they were meant to. You'll love some of the gimmicks, like the whole cow rescue theme in Udderly Abducted and the dirt shooting in Lorenzo's Soil. The cave salamander and the Peter Puppy levels, on the other hand, will drive you mad. And while the last game had you facing challenging bosses in most levels, Earthworm Jim 2 has a variety of ways to waste your time. At the end of a level, there might be a mini-game, but very few of the levels have bosses. And the existing bosses that you actually fight, Pedro Pupa and Flamin' Yawn, are the very opposite of challenging.
You have to love the flag feature. Don't you hate it when you're near the end of the game and you die, only to learn that you're out of continues? In Earthworm Jim 2, you can find three flags on each level that, if you collect all three of them, allow you to skip past that level in the event of a game over. It's a great idea that will save you a lot of frustration.
Now the boring crap. The graphics are even better then they were last time out. The sprites are bigger and contain more frames of animation. Each weapon has its own distinct look, and even some of the enemies have personality. Evil the Cat flies with his tail, for example, and Level Ate boss Flamin' Yawn yawns before he shoots fire (Flamin' Yawn! Get it?). The humor in the last game is more in the forefront this time. Remember the falling grandmas I mentioned? They repeatedly hit Jim in the head with umbrellas. Some of the backgrounds are bland and lifeless, but others have to be seen. The Puppy Love levels have an outstanding 3d background. The Flyin' King has 3d rendered graphics a la Donkey Kong Country! Earthworm Jim 2 is one of the best animated Genesis games out there.
The cartoon sounds are back too, and they sound just as good. But the music just isn't that good. You have that catchy Italian tune from all the pasta commercials blaring in Puppy Love, but the rest is just plain forgettable, despite the effort that went into it. At least the country western theme from the Pocket Rocket levels in the first game was scrapped.
Jim remains as controllable as he ever was, and that's a good thing. All of Jim's disguises are very easy to control, which is good because they all have different controls. The only overhauls in the controls went to the descent slowing, which is hold a while falling and not press c ridiculously fast while falling. And the swing is press c twice, not jump and whip the super small area. Both of these changes are extremely merciful. And the Barn Blaster weapon makes jim stand still and vulnerable for way too long before it goes off, basically making it useless.
Earthworm Jim 2 just isn't as good as the original. The forms of gameplay are more gimmick than gameplay. But they're fun gimmicks, and they're certainly worth playing around with time and time again. But if you paid the full $50 for it when it came out, you got ripped off. That's what I think. But it's up to you whether you love or hate those gimmicks and would buy the game for them.
Because of Sega's idea to make "Earthworm Jim 2" a 2D game insteed of a 3D game they may have saved their butts again! Although this game wasn't very populer because at the time of release 3D games were becoming more advanced so everyone just wanted those games (No 3D support killed the Sega Saturn.), so when this game came out no one really cared for another 2D game. They should have. This game proves that just because the game is in 2D, doesn't mean it's a total flop (Unlike "Earthworm Jim 3D.")! … more