Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy
  • Genre:
    • Run and Gun
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy Color
  • Developer:
    • David A. Palmer Productions
  • Publisher:
    • Crave
  • Released:
    • US 11/10/1999
    • UK November 1999
Score: 55%

This review was published on 06/15/2017.

Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy is a side-scrolling run and gun shooter video game developed by David A. Palmer Productions and published by Crave Entertainment for the Game Boy Color. It was originally released in North America and Europe in November 1999. Despite the number in its title, this is the fourth game in the Earthworm Jim series. The first two games, titled Earthworm Jim and Earthworm Jim 2, initially released on the Sega Genesis in 1994 and 1995, respectively, before being ported to other platforms. These games were developed by Shiny Entertainment, the company that created Earthworm Jim. After Earthworm Jim 2, Shiny was bought by Interplay, and a different developer was licensed to make the third game, Earthworm Jim 3D, which released for the Nintendo 64 in 1999. While the first two games did well commercially and are fondly remembered by many today, Earthworm Jim 3D wasn't very well liked, because it wasn't very good. Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy is even worse.

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In case you haven't played any of the previous games, Earthworm Jim is the name of the protagonist, who's an earthworm inside a powerful robotic suit. In the first two games, Jim had to save a princess literally named "Princess-What's-Her-Name" from various villains. The third game has him sent to the hospital due to a cow accident, where many of his enemies have entered his mind, forcing him to enter his own psyche to defeat them. As for Menace 2 the Galaxy, the story this time around is that Earthworm Jim's evil twin stole the inter-dimensional-transporter-of-doom and plans to sell it to the highest bidder. Now the good Jim must recover this gadget of destruction from the bad Jim before it falls into the hands of an even worse individual. There's not much else to say about the story, other than that it lacks the humor and charm of the previous titles.

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First things first: the graphics are awful. Being a portable platform, the Game Boy Color was never known for its technical prowess, but it could certainly do better than this. Even the marginally weaker hardware of the regular Game Boy could do better, as games like The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and Wario Land II clearly demonstrate. Sure, those games didn't originally have color, but they still looked better than this. Speaking of color, this game is coated in a color palette putrid enough to make you wish it was black and white instead. In addition to the garish colors, sprites have almost no detail, with Jim's being the most flagrant example. His suit is almost completely white, as if it's a ghost with a worm for a head. Considering the graphics and animation were some of the highlights of the first few games, this is hugely offensive to the originals.

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You control the titular Earthworm Jim yet again, because controlling anyone else would be weird. Pressing left or right on the d-pad makes him run in those directions, down instructs him to duck, the B button informs him to jump, and the A button commands him to fire his gun. These button assignments feel off, because most platformers make the A button jump and the B button for other stuff, but this game swaps them around for no particular reason. There's no way to change this, either. Unlike the first two games, holding up on the d-pad while jumping will allow Jim to jump higher. This is a relatively pointless addition, as most games achieve the same functionality by having you hold the button down longer. Also, Jim lacks many of his moves from the originals, like being able to use his head as a whip or propeller. As a result of that, the basic mechanics are a little too basic.

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Like the first two games, the gun is fired in the direction held on the d-pad, allowing Jim to aim in eight directions. Also like those games, ammo is limited, but will slowly regenerate whenever Jim runs out, plus he can find items to replenish his supply. Jim can still obtain and use other weapons, too, and is able to switch between them by pressing the select button. These special weapons differ from what was available in the first two titles, generally being far less exciting. Occasionally, you'll also find Jim's Pocket Rocket, which allows him to smoothly fly around in eight directions and shoot forwards, but it eventually runs out of fuel. It travels at an annoyingly slow pace, though, making it just as unexciting as the weapons. However, it's admittedly the most useful thing you'll find, as it's easy to control and allows you to briefly circumvent the game's terrible platforming.

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You're immediately tossed into the first stage without much pomp and circumstance; no explanations provided. That's fine for most side-scrollers, but this one does need some explaining, as it has a different objective than most games of this type. The goal of each stage is to collect a specific number of coins, the amount of which is listed at the bottom of the screen, and then find a special teleport machine. A celebratory sound plays once you have the necessary coins, signifying that you're ready to stand under the machine and press up on the d-pad to teleport to the next area. You'll often find the teleport machine by accident before you're supposed to, and if you do, it simply won't work. Therefore, the challenge is primarily in collecting coins. While the stages are done in a linear order, they tend to be designed in a nonlinear manner, with coins littered literally everywhere. Basically, this game is like the 2-D equivalent of a collectathon platformer.

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Aside from the bountiful coins you'll be gathering, the stages are sparse in terms of enemies and obstacles. In fact, outside of a few hazards, the first stage has no enemies at all. This makes most of the stages in the game feel dull and lifeless. Good design is thrown out the window in favor of making the player mindlessly collect stuff. Due to that, there's really not much more to the stages outside of the collection aspect. You do have to occasionally tango with enemies later on, however, as some of them drop coins when defeated. Later stages also become very maze-like, but that only makes collecting the coins even more tedious. Further adding to the tedium is the fact that the developers were too cheap to include a save battery, forcing you to use long passwords instead. Anyway, there are also a couple of bosses, most of which are prominent characters from previous games, but they're all as mediocre as the stages that precede them.

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Menace 2 the Galaxy is a fitting subtitle for this game, because it's literally a menace to our galaxy. Its existence threatens our galaxy with extreme mediocrity. Mediocre graphics, mediocre music, and mediocre game play; everything about this game is mediocre. None of what made the original games good is present here. This game is a disgrace to the Earthworm Jim name.

Word Count: 1,188

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