Interview: Earthworm Jim was planned for the Atari Jaguar

Due to the lack of vital third-party support for the Jaguar in the mid-nineties, Atari Corparation was forced to buy licenses of popular games to port them to the Jaguar. So Atari had licenses for famously games like Mortal Kombat 3, Batman Forever, Demolition Man, Brett Hull Hockey and some more. Unfortunately, the mentioned titles have not been officially released before the end of the Jaguar. 

As we learned on one of the past ejagfest’s from a personal conversation, the game Earthworm Jim was also in development for the Jaguar. Reason enough to do some more reseach on this topic. Thanks to Christopher Schmitz, who kindly awnsered some questions about this topic. He was involved in the development of the game back in the Jaguar days.

ChrisSchmitzChristopher Schmitz is working in the videogaming industry for many years now. Among others he worked as a developer for Software 2000, Softgold and later as executive producer with TDK Mediatvie and CDV, then as a Director of Product Development for Ubisoft BlueByte. Today, he is working as Director of Production at Quantic Dreams in France.


ejagfest: Following to our conversation at the ejagfest, for which developer did you work on Earthworm Jim for the Atari Jaguar back in the days?
C.Schmitz: The developer was Softgold and publisher would had been Atari. They wanted to finance and support the game in large parts.

ejagfest: Who was your contact at Atari?
C.Schmitz: That should have been Norman Kowalewski, at Atari USA.

ejagfest: Were you able to use sourcecode from other versions, or did you restart from the beginning?
C.Schmitz: Yes, we had to completely start from scratch, although there were PC code, but it was unsuitable for the Jaguar.

ejagfest: Was the title planned for cartridge or for CD?
C.Schmitz: As I recall right, for both.

ejagfest: You talked at the ejagfest of video sequences for the Jaguar version, was this converted from the PC version for the Jaguar?
C.Schmitz: We had an intro video taken from the EWJ animated tv series, built and converted for the Jaguar. No videos of the PC version.

ejagfest: How far was the game in development?
C.Schmitz: Back then we had programmed a little prototype. However, this was not very far . I was able to load a level and allow a character to jump around . Then Atari closed up.

ejagfest: Does the prototype of the game still exist somewhere?
C.Schmitz: No, I don’t think so. I don’ t have it anyway.

ejagfest: For how much time was the title in development?
C.Schmitz: Not as long as a few months.

ejagfest: In what period was that?
C.Schmitz: The project was canceled with the departure of Norman at Atari. I wonder what he’s doing today?
Editor’s note: Norman Kowalewski was employed at Atari until the end of 1995 , according to an article in the American Atari ” Programd ” forum. EWJ was therefore presumably in development from the middle to the end of 1995.

ejagfest: On what kind of Dev-Kit did you worked at that time? Was it an Alpine board?
C.Schmitz: Yes, I think so, but I’m not sure. It’s already 20 years ago.


ejagfest: Was there any advantage over the existing versions in the Jaguar version, for example, Sprite size, or something else?
C.Schmitz: No, it was still too early to say.

ejagfest: Was it easy to program for the Jaguar?
C.Schmitz: Yes, I found it pretty easy. I have programmed the thing completely in “Assembler” language.

ejagfest: Was it fun to program for the Jaguar?
C.Schmitz: Yes, it was a cool machine with a challamging multi-processor architecture.

ejagfest: Were there other games beside EWJ planned for the Jaguar at Softgold?
C.Schmitz: As far as I know, this was the only thing that was started. An conversion of Turrican was under discussion, but had not started.

ejagfest: Thanks for the interview and your time.
C.Schmitz: You’re welcome.

The interview was held on 23 March 2015 from Björn Baranski for in german language. It was translated for the website into english. All screenshots in this articles are from the Super Nintendo Version of the game.

Sources: ejagfest Atari Museum, Programd

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