Thursday, 9 October 2008

A brief history of Daniel Hill's interest in Animation and all things cultural....

In the last few moons and with the latest update to the offerings of the Wii's Virtual Console I have once again found myself wrapped up in the universe of Earthworm Jim. This eclectic character, who starting life out as a mere worm, eating dirt and dodging crows has been a part of life since I was a child. I remember sitting for hours on end listening to Night on Bad Mountain rotating round and round desperatley trying to get to the end of 'What the Heck', the second level on the Earthworm Jim - originally released on the Mega Drive.

For quite some time, in fact that is an understatment - since the beginning of my teens, I have been trying to work out why I am so facinated with animation and everything that comes with it. And only playing this game have a realised that since I was a child, I have been watching cartoons, playing with cartoons and living in cartoons. They took over my life and I never even bothered to question whether or not I was ok with that; not once have I considering turning around and saying: "OI! Jim, Chicken, Pantless Red Guy, Wolverine, Cow, Ed, Edd, Eddy, Scooby, Fred, Barney, Yogi, Tom, Jerry, Courage, Bugs, Daffy, Taz, Mickey, Pluto, Goofy. What the hell do you think you are doing hanging around all the time. I'm 21 years of age, I should be cooking up something heroic and saving the planet, not watching your remarkable abilities to survive impossible and often hilarious mis-fortunes and slap-stick humour."

But off course, now its gone too far and I cannot turn them away. They are 'stayers', guests in my think tank....or rather invaders would be a better a term. It would be unfair of me not to stir them in the morning as I wake or to tell them to shut up so I can go to sleep. I feed them, protect them, clothe them and even love them. They return the favour to me in the form of humour, entertainment and learning and I feel gifted with the knowledge that they inspire me to acquire. It only occured to me sitting and researching the animation behind Earthworm Jim that I already knew all of his moves and smooth animations. At the time of its release it garnered world wide acceptence, even prompting one UK magazine to give out its first ever full score mark. And even after nearly 15 years you can see why. It is truly remarkable how well this game has stood up to the test of time. It looks great, it plays great and its sense of humour still stands out. I couldn't help but giggle everytime a crow grabbed a hold of Jim's head and started tugging him out of his Robotic Suit.

But this is not a game review and this is not a homage to all of the great cartoons out there that have inspired me to become an animator, this is just one big sidenote to say that without these things in my life I wouldn't be aware of so many other things. I wouldn't listen to classical music because I wouldn't have understood it or found it interesting - but free licensing of that music and its symbolism means virtually every budget bound game I have ever played has used Night on Bald Mountain or a piece by Mozart and now I am pround to be able to say I can sit hear listening to one of the great classical composers, identifying what he was trying to put across through his music and indeed often humming along.

My sense of humour is wide and accepting, I enjoy everything funny I come across, even if it is in poor taste because games like Earthworm Jim and Boogerman have given me the confidence to indulge in things that we perhaps shouldn't talk about in public. These characters are more than code and animation - they are so believeable and well rounded that they have become people to me. They live with me and in my house their catch-phrases can be heard being used from room-to-room. My family has grown up with these things and they are now embedded come-backs between me and my brother and I wouldn't want it to be any other way.

This has gone beyond what I originally intended it to be so now I will get on with what I originally logged on to do. Document some of the finer points found in the game Earthworm Jim and also the sister cartoon seires. I was also pleased to find out that a new game, series and feature length film are currently in production with the original designer, Doug TeNapel - who I will be doing a seperate post about in the near future.

See next blog for The Animation of Earthworm Jim...

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