This is my first video-game related post, and it's on a gem that all but got me through my hollywood. The Earthworm Jim Series was a spin of the typical platformer, with an arsenal of various guns and weapons and a protagonist that sticks in its players' minds for years to come. Jim, the series namesake, our hero, is an earthworm that was a normal dirt-eating worm until he stumbles upon a powerful suit aptly named the "Ultra-high-tech-indestructible-super-space-cyber-suit." This game was all about excessive, from the junkyard dogs Jim shoots into nothingness, to the cows he launches and the weird animal bosses he has to fight, and that's what really made it memorable. I hadn't seen this game played for a while, so i went back and played it, paying close attention to what techniques made it so effective in the first place. Using the 12 Principles of Animation as a standard, I will discuss which principles the 'Earthworm Jim' series adhered to and flourished under.
Since this series was released in the early 1990's it was limited to the graphics of the day, 2D levels and models couples with bright limited colors (I mean limited in terms of today's capabilities). For an already cartoonish idea, this was hardly a limiting factor. The games thrived under the simplicity of the animations and the limits inherent.
1) Squash and Stretch. This series was not one that strove for realism, as a crow fighting, gun-toting, earthworm superhero is not quite the pinnacle of reality. In order to keep with the nonsensical edge the game had, the animation style had to do the same. The result is a fine example of the squash and stretch technique. As Jim jumps from tire pile to tire pile, his body compresses down and springs back up, giving him the same feel as a ball would have bouncing around the same stage.
2) Staging. As with any film or game, the setting can either work with or against the underlying mood. The mood of this game is very non-sensical and fantastical, so a ridiculous setting is in order. Earthworm Jim succeeds in this regard, putting Jim in junkyards piled high with tires and teeming with villainous crows and junkyard dogs. The music adds to this, overly intense for such a character, giving it the mood it strives for, one that intrigues and entertains.
3) Arcs. Much like the Squash and Stretch aspect, a good animation often uses and arched trajectory for movement. EJ keeps with its organic feel and the feel of a platformer by giving Jim an arching trajectory when he jumps or moves a limb. Without this effect, not only would it seem a stiff example of animation, but it would fail in playability, which is the most important factor for any video game.
4) Exaggeration. Nothing about this game is tame. It's a great lesson in ridiculousness.
5) Appeal. When this game came out, it was in a time when Sonic the Hedgehog and Donkey Kong ruled the video game industry, and shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Max had the television realm. The demographic was there, all the developers of this game needed to do was make a good, fun game, and kids that were already interested in weird, animal-esque heroes would flock to it.
Some of the other principles, such as timing or anticipation, have more to do with the game's story and structure than the actual animation. Since video games work on the player's time, anticipation has to deal with advancing stages or finding the next boss. So in that regard, these principles were used in this game, and in every game. The other principles don't apply so much to a video game, not just this one in particular, but they do fine without them. Using the principles that were necessary, Earthworm Jim ends up being an effective, interesting, memorable, and, most of all, fun game.