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Refresh my memory: What're the best versions of Earthworm Jim?

Tizoc

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Been watching some speedruns on YT recently and I came by Earthworm Jim, which recently was on sale on gog.com as well.
At that point I started wondering what the best ver. of (at least) the first 2 games was between SNES and Genesis/MD, etc.
 

Warxard

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PC Version of 1 and 2 are the only versions you should play.

It goes: PC > Sega CD > Genesis > EWJ HD > SNES
 

lazygecko

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IIRC the PC version was a port of the Sega CD version with some extra bells and whistles, so that would make it the best one.
 

sixteen-bit

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what the best ver. of (at least) the first 2 games was between SNES and Genesis/MD
Between SNES and Genesis, the Genesis ones are better, OP.

If you're curious about other platforms, the Sega CD Special Edition version of EWJ1 is supposed to be really good. There's a Saturn port of EWJ2 that I really like as well.
 
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I've got the Genesis versions of 1 and 2 on Wii virtual console on my Wii U, and they are great. I've also played the Saturn version of 2, and that was even better, particularly the music.
 

Tizoc

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Mind elaborating on the PC versions please? What improvements did it have over the other versions?
 

RealityCheque

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Are the PC versions available to buy anywhere? GOG, Steam etc?

Edit: nevermind. €20 on steam with very middling reviews as to the port quality. Holy fuck.
 

Syril

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I'm curious if the GOG/Steam versions are the ones people are talking about >_>
Some of the GOG reviews were saying that they were the wrong version and not the Special Edition that the Sega CD and Windows 95 versions were titled.
 

dark10x

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For my money, it's all about Sega CD. The CD audio versions of the tracks are incredible, it has slightly more content, and it looks great.

Genesis is, of course, solid as well.

Now, the one that MIGHT have been best is the version included in Earthworm Jim 1 & 2 on the PC. Unfortunately, it was a DOS game and it doesn't really run quite perfectly under DOSBOX. I certainly haven't achieved the perfect 60fps you get on Sega CD, anyways, it looks slightly out of sync.

If you can get it running flawlessly with a good pad, though, it had visuals in the style of the Sega CD/Genesis version but with an improved color palette (ie - less dithering).

The SNES version, I feel, is the worst of the early releases. The stretched tile and sprite work due to the resolution change sucks and the audio quality (music at least) is worse and the song selection is different. That said, it has improved colors, a cool lens flare effect in stage one, a proper transparent bonus tube, and a few other nice features. Some of the later levels have curious different background work as well.

There was also a Windows 95 version made by Activision that differs from the DOS game. It seems fine but...running a 256 color Win 95 game today isn't so simple and it's not really worth messing with. Was a solid version back in the day as was Pitfall.

The Game Boy and Game Gear versions are hilariously bad but it's interesting that they tried. Very low frame-rates and just ugly visuals.

The GBA version is like the SNES game with an even lower resolution and washed out colors.

The HD version isn't bad, actually, but I prefer the originals.

Some of the GOG reviews were saying that they were the wrong version and not the Special Edition that the Sega CD and Windows 95 versions were titled.
DOS versions are actually better than the Win 95 game, I should note. The extra content in SE is not bad, but not essential. Also, those two Activision W95 games are a pain in the ass to deal with on modern PCs. I'm not sure there's a really good solution there outside of a VM - and then performance is an issue.
 

dark10x

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Alright, I just made some comparison shots...

The DOS version looks even better than I remembered. Clearly the best looking version of the game as it maintains the original designs with improved color gradients plus it has the same soundtrack as Sega CD.

Unfortunately, having just sampled on DOSBOX, I can confirm that it doesn't really run quite right. It runs at the correct speed but is not 60fps unlike the others. Maybe with some tweaking it's possible?

Genesis



DOS



SNES

 

Krejlooc

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IIRC the PC version was a port of the Sega CD version with some extra bells and whistles, so that would make it the best one.
The PC port has a few 256 color screens, but is otherwise a straight port of EWJ Special Edition on the Sega CD.

Either way, you need either version of Special Edition.
 

Krejlooc

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Alright, I just made some comparison shots...

The DOS version looks even better than I remembered. Clearly the best looking version of the game as it maintains the original designs with improved color gradients plus it has the same soundtrack as Sega CD.

Unfortunately, having just sampled on DOSBOX, I can confirm that it doesn't really run quite right. It runs at the correct speed but is not 60fps unlike the others. Maybe with some tweaking it's possible?

Genesis



DOS



SNES

The DOS version lacks the Special Edition content, IIRC. It has the Intestinal distress level from the Genesis version, but lacks the extra areas and the big bruty level.

The Windows 95 PC port is the one that is a port of Earthworm Jim Special Edition. It does not feature the in-game 256 color graphics like your screens show, but it does have some static 256 color screens. Otherwise, it's a straight port of the Sega CD Special Edition.
 

dark10x

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The PC port has a few 256 color screens, but is otherwise a straight port of EWJ Special Edition on the Sega CD.

Either way, you need either version of Special Edition.
Ah, you're talking about W95

The DOS version lacks the Special Edition content, IIRC. It has the Intestinal distress level from the Genesis version, but lacks the extra areas and the big bruty level.

The Windows 95 PC port is the one that is a port of Earthworm Jim Special Edition. It does not feature the in-game 256 color graphics like your screens show, but it does have some static 256 color screens. Otherwise, it's a straight port of the Sega CD Special Edition.
Yes, I know, I own both.

The SE content is nice, I suppose, but I think the DOS version is vastly superior to the W95 version due to improved visuals. Though, as I said, it's not as easy to run well today.

Sega CD is probably the best version to play.

Pitfall The Mayan Adventure, however, was completely redrawn in 256 color for Windows 95 and looks amazing. It's the mostly 32x visuals, actually, but it ran better.

32x version runs with Genesis 64 color backgrounds (at 60fps) while all foregrounds are 256 color but 30fps (or worse). Jaguar version is also 30fps and features 256 color graphics. It was possible to run the PC port at 60fps on a fast enough Pentium but it's not very compatible today.
 

Chacranajxy

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The best version of the game is the Windows 95 release, which has not been re-released digitally. It has the best graphics (including much better color than the Sega CD release), the extra level from the Sega CD version, the extra areas added to some levels, and the best music. I haven't tried the game on Windows 10, but it did work on Windows 7, as I recall.


Great fucking game, btw.
 

dark10x

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The best version of the game is the Windows 95 release, which has not been re-released digitally. It has the best graphics (including much better color than the Sega CD release), the extra level from the Sega CD version, the extra areas added to some levels, and the best music. I haven't tried the game on Windows 10, but it did work on Windows 7, as I recall.


Great fucking game, btw.
Nah, dude, the DOS port looks better than the Windows 95 version. Big time. ALL graphics are redrawn in 256 color rather than just small portions. It was still improved over the Genesis/Sega CD versions, though, so it was well made.
 

Krejlooc

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I got a Windows 95 PC in 256 color mode right next to me, and the Win 95 version of EWJ on the shelf lol. I actually gave the Win 95 version a play earlier this year.
 

Chacranajxy

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Nah, dude, the DOS port looks better than the Windows 95 version. Big time. ALL graphics are redrawn in 256 color rather than just small portions.
Really? That's the first I've heard of it. You wouldn't happen to have any examples of it, would you?
 

dark10x

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Really? That's the first I've heard of it. You wouldn't happen to have any examples of it, would you?
Actually, now that I think about it, I do remember it having improved visuals all around. I was going with Krejlooc's notion, actually. He has a Win 95 PC ready to go, though, maybe he could share an example?

I do remember the DOS version looking nicer overall, though.

I got a Windows 95 PC in 256 color mode right next to me, and the Win 95 version of EWJ on the shelf lol. I actually gave the Win 95 version a play earlier this year.
Argh, I left my retro PCs back in the States. :(
 

Krejlooc

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Pitfall The Mayan Adventure, however, was completely redrawn in 256 color for Windows 95 and looks amazing. It's the mostly 32x visuals, actually, but it ran better.

32x version runs with Genesis 64 color backgrounds (at 60fps) while all foregrounds are 256 color but 30fps (or worse). Jaguar version is also 30fps and features 256 color graphics. It was possible to run the PC port at 60fps on a fast enough Pentium but it's not very compatible today.
One big perk of the Jaguar version over the 32X version - it boasts game saving. Both EWJ and Pitfall on windows 95 did as well, technically - you could choose your starting level from the pull down file menu as you reached them, but they'd be greyed out prior. Neither the Sega CD version of EWJ SE, nor the 32X or Sega CD versions of Pitfall had this save feature. But the Jaguar version does, owing to the mandatory bit of flash memory in the Jaguar game cart.
 

Tizoc

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OK I'm a bit confused lol, could someone jot down the major differences between the W95 and DOS versions please?
 

dark10x

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One big perk of the Jaguar version over the 32X version - it boasts game saving. Both EWJ and Pitfall on windows 95 did as well, technically - you could choose your starting level from the pull down file menu as you reached them, but they'd be greyed out prior. Neither the Sega CD version of EWJ SE, nor the 32X or Sega CD versions of Pitfall had this save feature. But the Jaguar version does, owing to the mandatory bit of flash memory in the Jaguar game cart.
Yeah, the save feature in the Jag version is great as is the menu in the Win 95 versions of those games.

I just couldn't believe that Pitfall was running at only 30fps on the Jag. If it were the 3DO? Sure, that makes sense, the way it handles visuals made it difficult to replicate tile based graphics (since it didn't really do it that way) but the Jag should have been able to produce a 60fps version of the game. Bad porting, I guess. It had an interesting take on the water effect as well.

The SNES and GBA versions are shit, though. Totally different visuals and animation work with much less parallax.

I've found that, for the Sega CD version of Pitfall (and some other heavily dithered Genesis gaems), the XRGB can help. By changing the H_SCALER value to 15, 16, or 17 the image is slightly blurred but, if V_SCALER is 7, pixels still remain sharp enough. Yet, the softening helps blur the pixels more like you'd see on a CRT using composite but WITHOUT composite artefacts (since I'm using RGB). It's the best solution I've found to improve the situation.

and cinematic frames per second
??

Genesis/Sega CD versions are 60fps.

OK I'm a bit confused lol, could someone jot down the major differences between the W95 and DOS versions please?
The Win95 version includes a couple extra levels including extended level one
The DOS version looks even better, though the Win95 version is still improved over Genesis
The DOS version shipped with EWJ2 in the same box also redrawn in 256 colors
Win95 version allows you to save progress, basically

The DOS version runs easily in DOS BOX but not perfectly while the Windows 95 version basically demands Win95 (maybe 98) running in 256 color. You can use a VM but it runs poorly, I've found. You really need a genuine retro PC for it.

Both versions include the excellent redbook audio from the Sega CD version.

So while I prefer those versions visually, I still think Sega CD is the way to go for ease of use (I own the real disc and a Sega CD *BUT* it's very easy to emulate at 100% speed).
 

Alex_Mexico

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Genesis both times due to resolution
Yeah what's up with multiplatform 16 bit games back in the day? The snes was more powerful, why did the Genesis output in a higher resolution? I didn't find out about that until very recently when I came across a The Lion King SNES/Genesis YouTube comparison video and noticed you you could see more in Sega's version. And apparently it wasn't only in that game.

What gives???
 

dark10x

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Yeah what's up with multiplatform 16 bit games back in the day? The snes was more powerful, why did the Genesis output in a higher resolution? I didn't find out about that until very recently when I came across a The Lion King SNES/Genesis YouTube comparison video and noticed you you could see more in Sega's version. And apparently it wasn't only in that game.

What gives???
The video modes supported were the issue. The NES, SNES, and Turbo Grafx all output at 256x224 while Genesis could support either 256x224 or 320x224. Most games used the higher resolution mode. The higher res SNES mode, however, was more like 512x239/448 or something weird which was not feasible for most games.

Things worked differently back then compared to today where resolution selection is basically arbitrary. The hardware was only designed to output in certain modes/resolutions.

Now, this was not actually a serious problem back then for image quality due to the fact that CRT TVs could accept all modes and display at proper aspect ratio.

The reason it became a problem is due to multi-plats. Games were often made with the wider Genesis resolution in mind and then a portion of the pixels were simply hacked off on the SNES version and everything was stretched to 4:3 (from 8:7).

Games made FOR the SNES took this into consideration so if you look at the games in 8:7 mode, the sprite work appears narrow - it's designed to stretch out to 4:3.

Curiously, 256x224 mode was dropped for Sega Saturn making life difficult for certain devs porting games. Mega Man X3 and Super Ghouls n' Ghosts both were ported but run in pillar boxed 320x224 (so the games appear narrow on Saturn). On the flipside, Symphony of the Night on PSX used 256x224 for some reason and, when ported to Saturn, was stretched out. The problem is - there was not enough pixels for proper scaling so every few pixels were simply doubled resulting in uneven scaling artefacts. It was ugly as hell as a result.

I would argue that the Genesis was actually faster hardware but the SNES graphics capabilities were pretty advanced at the time - they were just tied to a slow CPU and a lower resolution with many games relying on additional chips.
 

Tizoc

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OK thanks for clearing that up. A shame we may never see a definitive ver. of the original games based on this info.
 

dci260

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I own the DOS versions on GOG, and while they are playable, the 1st game has some pretty messed up controls when it comes to shooting. Also, I don't remember for certain, but I believe there are some levels missing in the DOS versions of both games.
 

Santar

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I've been trying to get the Win 95 version of both EWJ and Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure to run for years with no luck.

I especially want to get Pitfall going as that version looks amazing.
It's a great often overlooked platformer.
 

lazygecko

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Yeah what's up with multiplatform 16 bit games back in the day? The snes was more powerful, why did the Genesis output in a higher resolution? I didn't find out about that until very recently when I came across a The Lion King SNES/Genesis YouTube comparison video and noticed you you could see more in Sega's version. And apparently it wasn't only in that game.

What gives???
SNES and Genesis were on equal ground with a lot of aspects canceling eachother out. Earthworm Jim is a pretty good showcase of that. Apart from the higher resolution, there's also more sampled voices/sound effects present in the Genesis version, as well as more art which culminates in an entire extra level. The better processor meant that Shiny could make better use of compression/decompression techniques, and manage to cram a lot more assets into the same amount of cartridge space.

Now, this was not actually a serious problem back then for image quality due to the fact that CRT TVs could accept all modes and display at proper aspect ratio.
For the average user you're probably right that the IQ didn't matter that much, since it was all bottlenecked by the output. But the resolution does make a significant difference for screen real estate. A game like Sonic would probably suffer significantly if that extra bit of horizontal space was cut.
 
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I've been trying to get the Win 95 version of both EWJ and Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure to run for years with no luck.


I especially want to get Pitfall going as that version looks amazing.
It's a great often overlooked platformer.
I have a copy of it some where (or I think I still do). My cousin gave it me to along with my first PC (it was a hand-me-down). It was one of those games I use to play a lot on his computer. I figure it's one those that would turn up GOG eventually...who knows.
 

Chacranajxy

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Yeah, the save feature in the Jag version is great as is the menu in the Win 95 versions of those games.

I just couldn't believe that Pitfall was running at only 30fps on the Jag. If it were the 3DO? Sure, that makes sense, the way it handles visuals made it difficult to replicate tile based graphics (since it didn't really do it that way) but the Jag should have been able to produce a 60fps version of the game. Bad porting, I guess. It had an interesting take on the water effect as well.

The SNES and GBA versions are shit, though. Totally different visuals and animation work with much less parallax.

I've found that, for the Sega CD version of Pitfall (and some other heavily dithered Genesis gaems), the XRGB can help. By changing the H_SCALER value to 15, 16, or 17 the image is slightly blurred but, if V_SCALER is 7, pixels still remain sharp enough. Yet, the softening helps blur the pixels more like you'd see on a CRT using composite but WITHOUT composite artefacts (since I'm using RGB). It's the best solution I've found to improve the situation.


??

Genesis/Sega CD versions are 60fps.


The Win95 version includes a couple extra levels including extended level one
The DOS version looks even better, though the Win95 version is still improved over Genesis
The DOS version shipped with EWJ2 in the same box also redrawn in 256 colors
Win95 version allows you to save progress, basically

The DOS version runs easily in DOS BOX but not perfectly while the Windows 95 version basically demands Win95 (maybe 98) running in 256 color. You can use a VM but it runs poorly, I've found. You really need a genuine retro PC for it.

Both versions include the excellent redbook audio from the Sega CD version.

So while I prefer those versions visually, I still think Sega CD is the way to go for ease of use (I own the real disc and a Sega CD *BUT* it's very easy to emulate at 100% speed).
Well, I'm learning some shit today. Maybe it's worth having both the DOS and Win95 versions of the game, then, for the best of both worlds?

So how about Earthworm Jim 2? Would you say that the DOS version is the best version of that, too? I know that one gets a little confusing, because there's some dramatic differences with the PS1 and Saturn versions...
 

dark10x

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Well, I'm learning some shit today. Maybe it's worth having both the DOS and Win95 versions of the game, then, for the best of both worlds?

So how about Earthworm Jim 2? Would you say that the DOS version is the best version of that, too? I know that one gets a little confusing, because there's some dramatic differences with the PS1 and Saturn versions...
I also thought the game was best on DOS as the PSX and Saturn versions both added a lot of cheap looking CGI elements to the game in an effort to appear "next-gem". Also, the DOS version lacks the "Lorenzo's Soil" level which is great as it's a stage I absolutely HATE playing through. It's an interesting idea, but it's tedious and ugly.

The DOS version, of course, also has great CD audio.

For the average user you're probably right that the IQ didn't matter that much, since it was all bottlenecked by the output. But the resolution does make a significant difference for screen real estate. A game like Sonic would probably suffer significantly if that extra bit of horizontal space was cut.
I basically said as much beneath that quote.

Real estate was an issue but only for ports. If the games took the resolution into account, it was no problem, but plenty of ports did not and you wound up with fat sprites and chopped off levels.
 

Justinh

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is the sega saturn version the same as the sega cd one?
Sega CD is EJ1, Saturn is EJ2.

The only one I still have is the Saturn game, but I always thought the Genesis games were better mainly because of the music sounding better to me on the Genesis hardware. I wish I still had those games. I wonder if they're still in some box at my parents' house...

The only thing I remember hating about Lorenzo's Soil is the boss. He's not hard, but he's irritating.
 

Tizoc

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OK so to clarify-
Earthworm Jim 1: W95, DOS, SEGA CD and Genesis ver. are good
Earthworm Jim 2: DOS, Saturn and Genesis ver. are good

In the cas of EWJ2, it didn't get a SEGA CD nor W95 release right?
 

Psyrgery ES

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I've been trying to get the Win 95 version of both EWJ and Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure to run for years with no luck.


I especially want to get Pitfall going as that version looks amazing.
It's a great often overlooked platformer.
Same, but with Donald in Cold Shadow. I've been trying to make it run but to no avail. Such a wonderful game, (and the OST!) shame :(
 

dark10x

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OK so to clarify-
Earthworm Jim 1: W95, DOS, SEGA CD and Genesis ver. are good
Earthworm Jim 2: DOS, Saturn and Genesis ver. are good

In the cas of EWJ2, it didn't get a SEGA CD nor W95 release right?
Right, EWJ2 was not released on Sega CD or Windows 95
 
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The best version of Earthworm Jim is the one in your memories where it's actually a good game. :p ... Though that's perhaps a bit unfair, I never did love the game, so maybe people who did love it back then still would, despite its flaws... I don't know. But I do think it's probably less good now than I thought then -- the controls are frustrating and it has some design issues with the constant near-unavoidable hits and such.

But that said... Windows 95. It's the best version with all of the content. Yes, you probably will need a real older PC to play it acceptably -- I use a WinME machine for games like that -- but if you can get it running, it is the best version... unless the DSiWare or PS360 HD remake versions are better, I haven't played those.

As for Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, yeah, that's best on PC as well, and also won't run decently on anything other than a real older PC. I'd always discounted this game before, but I played it again recently for my PC Platformers Game Opinion Summaries thread, and liked it more than I thought I would. It's not amazing, but it is a decently fun game, despite some messy design at times. The graphics are great too on PC, it looks really nice. From this thread, I guess the Jaguar has the best console version? PC is better for sure though, it's got nice CD audio!

That thread, where I cover more on my thoughts of both EWJ and Pitfall for Win95: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1213383
 

Lord British

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Weirdly, if I put my EWJ or Pitfall Win 95 discs into my Windows 10 PC, they just work.

I recall there were some sound effect issues? But they play fine.