Before we get started, let’s just make one thing perfectly clear – Earnest Evans is a terrible game. It’s hard to even know how to begin describing where a game as bad as this goes wrong – to do so would be like a mechanic trying to explain why the wreckage of a vehicle used in a car bombing might not pass inspection.
Here’s the story as best as I can sum it up – First, we see Earnest standing on a boat looking at an ancient ruin.Next, we play as Earnest inside of those ruins.Shortly after that, we turn off the power, remove the cartridge from our Genesis, and attempt to light it on fire.It’s not a great story, but I do like the ending – it’s sort of a tale of redemption.
He carries a whip and does a lot of tomb raiding, so it seems as if he was supposed to be inspired by Indiana Jones, but thanks to his skin tight blue jeans and extreme mullet, he ends up looking more like some strange anime version of a 90s-era Billy Ray Cyrus.
Standing still, Earnest Evans looks like an average NES game, except maybe slightly more colorful. The game really shines once its in motion, however, as you get to see one of its more innovative and unintentionally hilarious qualities. Unlike most games of that era, Earnest’s limbs are animated independently of his body. In the proper hands, they might have resulted in some very state of the art animation, where similar actions could look slightly different (and more realistic) depending on context. In this case though, it just looks really awkward – nothing Earnest does ever looks remotely natural, and every time he gets hit, his arms and legs splay out in random, painful-looking directions.
I can’t even pretend to know what the hell is going on here.
Oh, but it gets better. Laughing in the face of the conventional wisdom of just about every other game ever made (with a few exceptions that are notable only because they were also notorious for being awful), the makers of Earnest Evans decided NOT to give you any period of invincibility after taking damage. This means that you can (and will) easily end up in a situation where you get trapped and end up taking constant damage until you finally die. Adding to the frustration is the fact that while this is going on, Earnest will flop around helplessly like a tragic, drunken ragdoll.
The game’s first level takes place in a cave, complete with a frustrating layout full of damage areas that can’t really be avoided, and a bunch of sections where if you miss a jump, you’ll have to repeat a large section. As I mentioned before, I don’t know what the second level is like, because reaching it would have required more time playing this game than any human being ought to endure. Let’s just assume that all the subsequent levels are also ugly, poorly laid-out caves. Or better yet, that they don’t even exist at all.
C’mon Earnest! Show those hot dog links who’s boss!
Perhaps as a result of the game’s obvious anime influences, a lot of the enemies are tentacles. No, I don’t mean that a lot of the enemies have tentacles – I mean that they themselves are tentacles. Just disembodied tentacles coming out of the ground or ceiling for no reason. I could go on about the game’s other enemies, such as the inexplicably tall skeletons (apparently we’re raiding the tomb where an NBA All-Star Team was buried), or the overly aggressive swarms of vicious porcupines. But let’s not kid ourselves – your real enemies are the development team and whoever bought you this game.
The developers of Earnest Evans ought to be put on trial, if not for crimes against humanity then at the very least for fraud. Calling Earnest Evans a “game” is like calling a trip to Dave and Buster’s “fun” or a Smash Mouth album “music”. The definition would seem remotely truthful only to someone with the vaguest possible understanding of the concept. The only explanation I can come up with for the ineptitude of Earnest Evans is that the people who made it were intentionally trying to get fired. That still doesn’t explain why the publisher didn’t bury the game rather than release it, but I suspect the people responsible for that decision may have been short selling the stock of their own company.
Games this bad usually don’t even appear on consoles – they’re typically homemade shareware efforts for the PC that come packaged with a virus that mercifully puts your computer out of its misery after a few hours. So I guess about the only good thing I can say about Earnest Evans is that at least it didn’t break my Genesis. That’s something. Then again, neither did the other games remaining on the list, so that’s not really enough reason to keep it around.