Every week Cyril Lachel comes down from his giant castle in the hills to provide the final word on all of the classic downloadable games and retro compilations. This is the Retro Round-Up, your official guide to the best (and worst) in classic gaming for the Nintendo Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Join us as we shed some light on what games are worth your five or ten dollars, and what games you should avoid at all costs. For more information about these games (and retro gaming in general) we invite you to check out Defunct Games
. This week Nintendo decides to get out of the way of the election and only give us one game. Thankfully it's a really, really good game ... but still, why only release one game? In case you're a fan of 2D action/shooters, this week we're taking a look at the original Earthworm Jim for the Sega Genesis. On top of that we get a new season of American McGee's Grimm. That sound you hear is my skin crawling. Find out which one of these we recommend when you read another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
What Is It?
It's hard to believe that there's anybody out there that doesn't know who Earthworm Jim is. However, given the fact that this game is almost 15 years old and it's been close to a decade since we've heard from him, perhaps there are a few gamers that missed out on this phenomenal series. Earthworm Jim is the disturbing marriage of a Sonic the Hedgehog-style mascot game and a run and gun Contra clone. You play a large talking earthworm named Jim, who is forced to take up arms (as in guns) when he overhears a plot to kidnap Princess What's-Her-Name. It doesn't matter what the story is, because this game is pure action bliss from beginning to end. The best thing about Earthworm Jim is that it's constantly surprising you, often in ways that are both humorous and memorable. The game is also great at referencing things that happened before it, which not enough games do right. You'll be shocked and awed by how well thought out the ending is, and just marvel at the level of polish and detail put into each of the game's levels. Earthworm Jim is a masterpiece, the type of game everybody should own. If you've never owned an Earthworm Jim game (and the terrible Game Boy Advance ports don't count), then get ready to scrape up $8 because this is one game you absolutely need to buy immediately.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Even 15 years later it's hard to find cracks in Earthworm Jim. There are things I could nitpick, such as the controls being a little floaty. However, this isn't so much a problem as it is a preference in how the character handled. Beyond having some of the best sprite-based graphics of the 16-bit era, Earthworm Jim is also full of interesting ideas. I am a person fan of how you don't see the bullets when you shoot your gun, something that nobody else was doing at the time. It's little things like this that prove that Earthworm Jim does indeed still hold up.
Is It Worth The Money?
It's not often that a game is better on the Genesis than the Super NES (See: last week's review of Street Fighter II Special Champion Edition), but that's exactly the case with both Earthworm Jim and Earthworm Jim 2. For whatever reason, the Genesis version of Earthworm Jim was just a better game, with better animation, controls and even graphics. Don't get me wrong, you would still get a great game if you bought the Super NES version (which is not offered on the Virtual Console), but if you had a choice the Genesis version is the way to go. The difference is even more pronounced in Earthworm Jim 2, which gives the Genesis version an extra level. I'm sure it's only a matter of weeks before we see the likes of Earthworm Jim 2. However, in the mean time you should spend some quality time getting to know all of the crazy characters in Earthworm Jim!
This Week in GameTap
Still not satisfied with what you're getting on the Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade? Then maybe you should head on over to GameTap
! With more than 100 free games currently available, GameTap is one of the best places to play classic games! And every week they are adding brand new titles to the service, including old school games for the Genesis, Neo Geo, Commodore 64 and much, much more. Won't you join us as we take a look at what's going on this week over at GameTap!
That sound you just heard? That was me remembering that it's back to the grind of talking about American McGee's Grimm. I guess this means that I'll be spending the next eight weeks trying to convince somebody (anybody) to play this mediocre series. Well, here we go: American McGee's Grimm is celebrating its second season debut today. The first episode, The Master Thief, is currently available ... and free for the first two days. If you're looking for a Halloween themed game, this is one of them.
Also available this week is Fallout Tactics. Unfortunately that's only available to paying subscribers. So if you have a subscription and you don't want to play Grimm, at least you have some Fallout to play. Nothing new was added for non-paying subscribers; however you can still play the original Fallout for free. Oh, and Penumbra Overture is still free ... so maybe you can go find out just what the heck that is.