Popping out of the head of Doug TenNapel, Earthworm Jim was one of the most iconic heroes of the 16-bit era. With rich variety in gameplay, and absurd over the top humor, it quickly rose in popularity, to the point that it had its own cartoon show for a while. In fact it was proven popular enough for a 32bit port to be released, both for the Saturn and Playstation.
Earthworm Jim 2 is one completely ridiculous game. The main character is a concept of its own: Jim the Earthworm, armed with a super space suit granting him not just super-worm but super-human strength as well. With his supersuit, he goes on hopping from planet to planet, looking for his beloved Princess-What's-Her-Name, who was kidnapped by the nefarious Psy-Crow in a creative intro sequence. Cow jokes abound as Jim travels from planets of paperwork to planets of food, fighting evil goldfish and udder saucers, saving little puppies, playing quiz shows and milking cows. No, I'm not making this all up.
As EWJ2 is just a 16-bit game, you can expect the most old-school, classic 2d platform action - most of the time. You have the standard move-jump-crouch-shoot set of movements, but you can also use Jim itself as a whip to save ammo. Making the platforming part more fun is a creature called Snot (a pile of big green, well, snot, with eyes), who sits in your backpack and can be used as a parachute, or you can paste it to the ceiling at certain spots, and swing in directions at increased speeds. On the way, you can find the usual powerups to restore your health, and ammo for many conventional (plasma weapon, super plasma beam, home-ing device) and not-so-conventional weapons (bubble gun, three-directonal shooting glove, nuclear brickhouse). On some levels you can also find worms, which usually give you chances in bonus games at the end of a level. In the few levels where you need to carry around farm animals, you can press down to pick them up.
The levels themselves are very diverse, so much that you'll rarely see the "normal" platforming this game is about. On one level you are transfigured into a blind cave salamander, and have to navigate through complex maze of Intestinal villi, while the first movement of Beethoven's famous Moonlight Sonata plays as background music. On another, you are flying on your rocket pod above an isometric landscape, your point is to navigate a huge bomb to the end of the level, as it is the only thing capable of getting rid of the "endboss". In another case you have to use your weapon to literally dig yourself out of the soil, blowing holes in the ground, with the falling pieces of earth forming small mounds, which you need to create to travel further.
As you see the levels are very diverse, but also in many cases sadistic. One level, for example, has you bouncing around puppies using a giant marshmellow. This level is split into several rounds (3 to 5), which can be very annoying especially if you mess up at a wrong moment. But worst of all, this "Puppy Love" level appears multiple times in the game. Every third level in fact. I'm not sure what the game developers thought when adding this to their game, because everyone anonymously agrees that Puppy Love is unnecessarily long and annoying. You can expect similar, evil pranks pulled on the player in other levels as well (although they are nowhere near as bad as Puppy Love).
The controls are the same as the previous versions of the game, you can shoot, jump, use your whip, and use the L/R shifts to change weapons. Graphically the game is just a tiny bit better then the 16bit originals - more colorful, and the backgrounds are much prettier, with multiple parallax scrolling. No effects were reworked however, so you still get dithered transparencies at explosions, even though 2D transparencies are easily possible on the Saturn. Sound effects are much clearer, given the lack of limitations in the sound hardware. The Music was many times upgraded, featuring full CD Audio tracks - they are worth listening to even on their own. "Lorenzo's Soil", "Anything but Tangerines", the first and third movements of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and the Title Screen music are perhaps the best tunes in the game.
Really, Earthworm Jim 2 on the Saturn (and the Playstation as well) is just how the game would look if it weren't for the limitations in its original 16-bit release. But this doesn't make it Saturn quality. It's a superb game, just not by Saturn standards. It's worth picking it up if you want to play an oldschool game, or a 2d platformer, but be cautious: Earthworm Jim 2 is so devilish that sometimes it feels as if the game is playing with you, and not the other way around.