New Earthworm Jim? A remake in the works.

Good news for old-school gamers comes from El33t Online!

Gameloft is currently working on a remake of the early nineties classic action platformer, Earthworm Jim, which saw a release on home consoles such as the Mega Drive/Genesis and Super NES in 1994. This much you knew.

A single comparison screenshot has now been released, however, to show the differences in graphical detail between the game’s original release in 1994, and the new remake here in 2009.

Due for release through digital download later this year, the Earthworm Jim remake is based on the Genesis/Mega drive version of the game, but is undergoing a complete overhaul – the new Earthworm Jim will feature smoother animation, better graphics, code rewrites for added features, a selection of difficulty levels and leaderboards, as well as an additional level entitled ‘Big Bruty,’ which was only playable in the special edition Sega CD and PC versions of the original game.

Each version of the game on the supported game platforms, which includes the iPhone, Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360, will be custom tailored to its specific capabilities and graphical abilities. The screenshot on show is from the iPhone version of the game. A version of the new Earthworm Jim is also being considered for PSP.

On a final note, it’s been confirmed that Dave Perry, the original creator of Earthworm Jim and founder of its original development studio, Shiny Entertainment, is not involved with the project, although the original music created by videogame music veteran Tommy Tallarico will be included.

Earthworm Jim is expected to release later this year via digital download, while the Xbox LIVE Arcade version will enjoy a one month period of exclusivity.

Sonic the Hedgehog set for 2D return

From The Guardian

Exciting news for Sonic fans as Sega yesterday revealed that the beloved blue hedgehog will be returning to a 2D environment in a new release next year.

The game, which has the development codename ‘Project Needlemouse’, will satisfy the clamouring of the thousands (okay, maybe hundreds) of fans disappointed by Sonic’s 3D outings such as Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast and the more recent Sonic Unleashed, released last year.

The news was confirmed by Sega associate brand manager Ken Balough, speaking to Gamespot, who said:

“Old-school Sonic fans have long asked to see Sonic return to a more 2D style of gameplay. Many liked the daytime stages in Unleashed but wanted to see a game that plays purely similar to the early games of the Genesis. Project Needlemouse is that critical first step that brings Sonic back to his 2D roots.”

The full interview can be read here. There’s also a Needlemouse website floating around featuring some decidedly Sonic-looking landscapes, though the disclaimer running along the bottom suggests this is the work of a designer looking to flaunt his wares rather than an oblique marketing strategy on Sega’s behalf.

Sonic’s first outing was in the 1991 MegaDrive release Sonic the Hedgehog, which wowed gamers with its speed and frenetic gameplay. The fact that I’ve played Sonic 2 in only the last couple of months suggests that there’s definitely a market for more of the same.

Xbox Arcade and WiiWare have revived interest in the retro gaming market in recent years, and made developers realise that there’s still money to be made in playing up to gamers’ nostaligia. But this announcement is partly a reflection of Sega’s failure to make Sonic ‘work’ in 3D. Sonic fans have never had a Mario 64 or Mario Galaxy – a great 3D game worthy of such an iconic character – and Needlemouse makes it look even less likely that ever that they will.

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And in toy news, we’ve just gotten the latest batch of Sonic the Hedgehog toys from Jazwares. Sega may have dropped out of the console race, but they haven’t stopped working on games or on building their most beloved franchise, which has meant that merchandising for Sonic games has managed to hit a high despite an age of nearly twenty years.

You can check ’em out over at our website in the Sonic section!