Earthworm Jim has quietly joined the ranks of other stalwart retro characters who’ve been featured in iPhone ports, notably Sonic and Duke Nukem, and unfortunately suffers from similar issues.
Telling the story of the titular earthworm, who accidentally lays his tentacle on a cyber-suit that mutates him into a superhero, Earthworm Jim is as wacky as they come and sees Jim facing off against the likes of Queen Slug-for-a-butt and Evil the Cat. It’s utterly surreal, as you’d expect of anything to come from Doug TenNapel, and a large part of the series’ charm stems from the colourful world and characters.
Unfortunately, while the iPhone version of Earthworm Jim faithful captures the insane plotwork and game mechanics it falters when it comes to the more important issues of control and precision. Jim moves uncontrollably quickly a lot of the time and tackling even some of the weaker enemies can be problematic as the inaccurate inputs see you often spewing ammo in the opposite direction to the attack.
Earthworm Jim on the iPhone
It’s a shame because Earthworm Jim is a franchise we have many fond memories of and the actual ideas and variety presented within the first game actually hold up to the test of time remarkably well. Whether you’re launching cows off of see-saws or drifting through levels like a helicopter by swinging your head in a circle, Earthworm Jim is an consistently inventive, crude and hilarious game.
The game is still very playable if you’re willing to put up with the finicky controls and constant threat of accidental death that usually comes as a result, but there are better iPhone platformers out there and your EWJ craving would probably be best served by replaying the original.
Verdict: A disappointing port, Earthworm Jim on the iPhone keeps all the funniness of the original, but loses all the finesse.
You might not believe it, but we’ve really enjoyed playing Surviving High School lately and while the cutesy graphics and twee title might lead you into assuming that it’s little more than an ickle baby game, there’s actually a surprising amount to like about it.
Structured like a classic Choose Your Own Adventure Game, Surviving High School’s main campaign is a lengthy story which sees you starting at a new American high school and facing off against the usual jocks, goths and other miscellaneous stereotypes. There are several large branches to the plot, mainly based on which lucky girl you try to woo and how well you perform on the football team, so there’s a fair bit of replay value within.
That’s just the main campaign though and Surviving High School has far more than that single story to tell, with new mini-episodes added to the online catalogue on a weekly basis. These micro-stories are utterly self-contained and are free to play for seven days, but you need to pay if you want to explore the back-issues or future titles. That’s generally not an issue though, as the episodes are short enough that you can burn through them in less than half an hour.
The basic multiple choice mechanic of the game is occasionally punctuated by minigames and it’s these that bring the game down in the end. There’s only so many times you want to play the football minigame or sit through a surprise maths quiz where the answers are all easy enough for a toddler to figure out before you remember how hellish high school really was.
That said, there’s a remarkable amount of content on offer here and the fact that new episodes are added regularly means there’s always something new to have a go at. The writing might not be Shakespeare – or Schlockspear, as it’s called in the game’s parody universe – and the minigames may grate, but Surviving High School remains a fun game on the whole.
Verdict: The exact opposite of Spider, Surviving High School caters more to the quantity-over-quality audience, but that doesn’t stop it being an enjoyable game.