38. Launching The Cow In Earthworm Jim
In what has to be one of the most baffling scenes of the 16-bit era, Earthworm Jim launches a cow into orbit using a fridge and a crude catapult. With a terrified moo, the hapless bovine flies off the screen at immense speed.
Throughout the game, you occasionally saw the cow whizzing by in the background. It all comes to a head at the very end of the came, when the animal comes crashing back to earth, crushing Princess What’s Her Name and ruining Jim’s chance for a smooch.
Why it’s great
Developer Shiny wasn’t afraid to make Earthworm Jim completely off the wall. At the risk of confusing and alienating gamers, the developer threw a myriad of utterly insane moments and jokes into the mix.
The cow gag is so memorable because it seems like a non-event at first. However, if you soldiered through the grueling campaign, you finally got closure and a hilarious plot twist as well.
What the developer says
Dave Perry, Earthworm Jim creator, Shiny
To try and untangle this morass of madness, we caught up with Earthworm Jim creator Dave Perry, “Back when I was a programmer, we made the Aladdin game for Sega Genesis.”
“Thanks to Disney, the game was a hit and I was asked to head up the game development for a new publisher, who were the people that made a ridiculous fortune from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys.”
“Instead of taking the job, I asked if they would consider funding a new game studio and we’d give our first three games to them to distribute. They agreed, so I cashed a big funding check and suddenly the bank manager was my buddy. That all sounded good, but then we entered licensing hell. What game would we make?”
“We seriously considered a David Hasselhoff game [laughs]. When the idea for Earthworm Jim came along, I don’t think we considered it weird to have a game about an Earthworm in a Cybernetic suit who had an enemy called “Evil Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-Filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt”, we were just happy to avoid the Hoff!”
“We invented a name for how we did the animation called “Animotion”, and we used to chuckle when we read about it. The reason the game animation is so remarkably smooth is because they are using state-of-the-art Animotion technology, which actually meant that we used pencils.”
“For wacky inspiration, our Animation Director Mike Dietz had us all watching Tex Avery cartoons on Laserdisc all day (and all night.) So I think the game was going to either be funny or wacky, it turned out with a bit of both.”
“I think it’s one of the secrets of the industry that humor is probably the most under-exploited genre. Yet, Gamers still remember any funny games they’ve ever experienced.”
“Someday we will make another Jim game, we decided to start him out fat as he’s been waiting for so long. When? We are just waiting for pencils to be cool again.”