The wiki website Hidden Palace has managed to track down a very early prototype of Earthworm Jim 2 for the Super NES. While prototypes are discovered fairly frequently these days, most of them tend to be nearly complete versions of the game they represent. Not this time…this version of Earthworm Jim 2 is radically different from what was sold.
First off, to refresh your memory as to what Earthworm Jim 2 was like, the game was recently replayed at Awesome Games Done Quick 2019. Here is a full playthrough:
Several of the levels you see here aren’t in the prototype, and in their place are levels no one knew about that didn’t make the final cut. A level called “Carnival Ride,” which is similar to the Donkey Kong Country minecart stages, features Jim careening along a track.
The proto is missing some common enemies from the game and actually has some that the final doesn’t. Several enemies are depicted as rendered CG models; in the final game none are. The puppy-bouncing minigame that you played between levels is already here, but it goes by the name “Bounce The Pups” instead of “Puppy Love” and there is an alternate minigame where you must bounce a puppy to clear the screen of bricks, a la Breakout. The ROM is dated April 24, 1995 — a full six months before the finished version of Earthworm Jim 2 went on sale.
The proto provides a fascinating window into the development process EWJ 2 went through. Much of the visual content from EWJ 1 has been reused here temporarily…Jim’s sprite animations are the same, the “Continue” sign from the first game is reused…a lot of placeholders represent material that hadn’t been created yet. It’s rare that the average layman gets to witness how the game-sausage is made.
The prototype was uploaded to the wiki, and you can play it by heading to this page. Or if you’re feeling lazy, you can watch it in its entirety thanks to YouTube…