Will there ever be another Earthworm Jim game?
It's a case of when, not if, David Perry, who founded Earthworm Jim creator Shiny Entertainment and programmed the first two games in the critically acclaimed 16-bit action platform series, told Eurogamer at the Develop conference in Brighton last week.
"Our problem is that the team is all doing well in whatever they're doing right now," Perry, boss of new Sony subsidiary Gaikai, said.
"It's just a bunch of guys who all have their own thing. Everyone has their own company. So, to get them to stop what they're doing and work on a game is very difficult, but it's something they all want to do.
"We have our own little discussion group on Facebook. We've been having this discussion: when will this happen? When could we do it? What would make sense?
"We feel the Kickstarter thing would have been fun just to see how much money could be raised out of a Kickstarter, because we would have put a lot of effort into the video, for example.
"It's one of those things that, no one's got the time right now. I'm sure it's going to happen, I just can't tell you exactly when."
No one's got the time right now. I'm sure it's going to happen, I just can't tell you exactly when.
Earthworm Jim launched on the Sega MegaDrive in 1994, but was later ported pretty much every other platform of the time. An HD remake was released on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in 2010.
It was a global hit. Its slick animation, beautiful backgrounds and quirky ideas wowed gamers and set tills alight. Merchandise and even a cartoon TV show followed. Buoyed by the success of the first game, Perry's Shiny released Earthworm Jim 2 just a year later, in 1995. Did you watch the preview on Bad Influence?
The series began its downward spiral after Perry sold Shiny to Interplay, what he describes as the worst business decision he ever made.
The franchise was then given to VIS Entertainment, who transitioned Earthworm Jim to 3D with the launch of Earthworm Jim 3D. Perry did not approve of the result.
The fourth and final game in the series, Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy, launched on the Game Boy and Game Boy Colour in 1999. Little has been heard of the muscle-bound earthworm since.
So, what is Perry's vision for a new Earthworm Jim game?
"The thing we had talked about in the past is Jim had been in retirement," he told Eurogamer. "So, he's been sitting at home watching movies and eating popcorn. He's grossly overweight now. The plan was to start with him literally getting off the sofa, and it's a disaster because he just hasn't done anything since. But he's got to get back into action again."
Earthworm Jim creator Doug TenNapel had created sketches for this new game, showing a "wimpier" Jim. Perry isn't convinced of this direction.
"There's an interesting tension between Doug and myself. When he started to draw the new Earthworm Jim, if I showed you the sketches of what he wanted the next Earthworm Jim to look like, I can guarantee you'd go, no! Don't go that way! Because he's going wimpy. My job I to fight him on that. No, don't go wimpy. We don't want wimpy."
What he is sure of, though, is that any new Earthworm Jim game will be 2D. "2D by definition is just a camera moving with you. The answer is, I would do 2D, but if you wanted you could play with the camera a little. But I don't like it when you're doing very 3D, because then your jumps become very hard to predict and then your controller starts breaking. It wouldn't be fun."