Earthworm Jim – Special Edition

Genre: Platform
Release Year: 1995
Developer: Shiny Entertainment
Publisher: Activision
Age Rating: Everyone
Playability Status: Fully playable (minor issues only)
Tested On: Windows 8 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Out of print/unavailable

When it comes to cute, anthropomorphic animals for video game characters, the humble earthworm might not be the first creature that comes to mind. Nevertheless, Earthworm Jim was quite the star back in the 1990s, with videogames and even his own cartoon show. This edition of the game for Windows 95 includes extra levels and improved graphics and animation and is considered by some players to be the definitive version.


The game is actually designed to play directly from the CD, however we are going to need to copy the contents to our hard drive in order to update one of the games DLL files. Create a directory anywhere on your computers hard drive (C:\Games\EWJSE would be perfect, for instance). Now, copy the entire contents of the Earthworm Jim Special Edition CD-ROM into this directory. When you are finished, you should have two files and a folder called “ASSETS”, which contains the bulk of the games files.

Patching and setting compatibility

For a game designed to run on Windows 95, Earthworm Jim – Special Edition actually runs pretty well on modern versions of Windows, though there are some caveats. First of all, you are going to need to apply this unofficial patch/update to one of the games files. If you do not, you will either not be able to hear any sound effects, or find the game will freeze after a few seconds. Download the zip file here (link broken? Let me know here). Once downloaded, open the zip folder and copy the WAIL32.dll into the ASSETS folder, overwriting the existing one.

Now, find the “WORM.EXE” file in the ASSETS folder and set it to run in compatibility mode for “Windows 95”. If you don’t know how to do this, see this tutorial.

You can now start the game by clicking the “Worm.EXE” file. Start the game like this in the future, do not start it from the CD, though you will need the CD in your computers optical drive whenever you want to play. You may get an error saying that “dispdib.dll” is missing, but it doesn’t seem to matter so you can simply dismiss this warning. You should now be taken to the games title screen.

Setting game preferences

Game preferences can be set by going to the “File” menu and choosing “Properties”. There are a number of settings you will want to configure here.

System tab:- Here you can set the screen size, notice that there’s no full screen mode? We’ll come to that in a moment. For now, set the display size to “Double Window (640×480)”.

Sound tab:- Make sure both Sound Effects and CD Music are enabled.

Difficulty:- Set this to taste, you get a different ending if you manage to compete the game on Normal or Difficult (you also get my respect, as this isn’t the easiest game!).

Joystick:- Earthworm Jim supports digital controllers only. You can map your controller here, but if you have a copy of Xpadder, it’s easier to simply disable Joystick and use Xpadder instead.

Keyboard:- As you might expect, this is where you go to change the keyboard controls. To quote from another famous platform game, “A gamepad isn’t required, but neither is bathing. Think about it”.

Configuring controls

For those of you who do use Xpadder, here’s a picture of our layout for reference:-




You can move Jim with either the analogue stick or the D-Pad. The A button (W) will make Jim jump. The X button (Q) will make him ‘whip’ and the B button (E) button will make him fire his gun.

Playing fullscreen

Playing the game in a tiny window isn’t much fun, so where is the full screen option? Earthworm Jim Special Edition does support fullscreen. However, the game only supports a full screen resolution of 320×240. This resolution has not been supported by most graphics cards for many years. Since the game can’t detect this resolution it won’t allow you to switch to full screen modes. You could try adding the 320×240 mode as a custom resolution. Both AMD and Nvidia include software with their cards to create custom resolutions. Doing this is a little complicated however and certainly not guaranteed to work. Check the documentation that came with your graphics card for more information on this.

One other approach is to use the Fullscreenizer tool. You can download this tool here. The program downloads as a single .exe file, it does not need installing. Run Earthworm Jim Special Edition and then run Fullscreenizer. You should see a window like the one shown below.




Click on “Earthworm Jim” and then Click “Fullscreenize”. The games window borders should now disappear (the menu bar will not disappear however) and the window will be zoomed to full screen size. Things will probably look pretty hideous though, so exit the game (you can do this by right clicking on its taskbar icon and choosing “Close window”). Now, change your screen resolution to the lowest available value. You can do this by right clicking on the desktop and choosing “Screen resolution”. There’s a full tutorial here. Typically the lowest resolution will be 800×600 or 640×480. Particularly in Windows 8, some graphics card drivers do not support any resolutions lower than 1024×768, so you might want to investigate adding a custom screen mode through your graphics cards software.

Once you have done this, click on “OK”. You will notice that your desktop is a lot bigger with less room to navigate. Start Earthworm Jim again and use the Fullscreenizer to make it full screen like before. You should now have a much nicer looking (almost) full screen version of the game. If you are using multiple monitors remember that Fullscreenizer will always make the game appear full screen on your main display. You may also want to hide the Windows taskbar, you can do that by right clicking on your taskbar and choosing “Properties”. Then, in the window that appears, find and select “Auto-hide the taskbar” and click “OK”. Unfortunately you will need to do this procedure every time you play the game if you want to play fullscreen.

Troubleshooting and known issues

CD Audio tracks do not loop – While playing, you will notice that the games soundtrack doesn’t loop once finished, leaving you playing the level with just sound effects. Currently there’s no known fix for this (the _inmm.dll tool appears to be incompatible).

Cannot enable in-game sound effects – Make sure you set Windows 95 compatibility mode for “WORM.exe”.

Cannot access full-screen mode – See “Playing fullscreen” above.

Game freezes when in-game sounds effects are enabled – Make sure you installed the updated “WAIL32.dll” into the “ASSETS” folder.

Problems saving games or settings – Earthworm Jim Special Edition stores all its settings in the registry. You will find the settings in the following locations:-

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Activision\Earthworm (on 64 bit versions of Windows)

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Activision\Earthworm (on 32 bit versions of Windows)

With the increased security in Windows Vista, 7 and 8, regular users aren’t normally permitted to write to this part of the registry. If you find your game preferences and settings aren’t getting saved properly, you can fix this problem with a little registry editing. If you’re not familiar with editing the registry, see this tutorial.

To get started fixing the problem, first open up the registry editing tool (regedit) as an administrator (right click and choose “Run as administrator”). Now, browse to the key shown above. Once you have located it, right click on the “Earthworm” key/folder and choose “Permissions…”. A security permissions window will then appear. Click on “Users” under “Group or user names:” and then tick/check the box that says “Full Control” and then click on “Apply”. If you did everything correctly, the window should look like the one shown below:-


Now, try playing the game again and change some settings (e.g redefine some keys). Exit the game and start it again and verify that your settings were saved. Note that there appears to be a bug in the game regarding Joystick controls. Joystick will always be enabled when you first start the game regardless of what the saved settings in the registry say.

Is this the best version of Earthworm Jim?

There’s no easy answer to that question. This version of the game has more content and levels than the other versions, including the PC version of the game you can buy from our friends over at When the game originally came out for Super Nintendo and Sega Megadrive/Genesis, most people agreed that the SNES had the better graphics. The graphics in this version are based on the Sega version, but they have been enhanced and extra animation has been added.

The special edition also came out for the Sega CD console. This version supposedly has slightly poorer graphics, but doesn’t have the problems the PC version has running full-screen. Of course, you need to have access to a Sega Megadrive and MegaCD unit in order to play it (or use an emulator).

Finally, there was a HD remake of the game launched for PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles (sadly, there’s no PC version). This version is more or less faithful to the original, but doesn’t feature all the levels from the special edition and also has a different voice-actor for Jim, amongst other changes.

To find out more about the different versions of the game, check out this page on Hardcore gaming 101.


The first level

The first level

Woodworm Jim

Woodworm Jim


  1. Max Harrison says:

    I know this article is a year old, but is there any way you could fix the link to the WAIL32.dll file?

  2. Tom says:

    Can’t get my controller to work. I have also tried the Xpadder program. Thoughts?

  3. Tom says:

    Ok now I have been able to at least get my PS2 controller to work on it however I have to use the thumbstick. Can’t use the directional pad. It’s going through the game itself. Still can’t figure out how to get Xpadder to work. When I open a Microsoft word and use my controller it types the letters assigned to the buttons so I know Xpadder is working but just not in game. I did have to run it in Windows 7 compatibility mode to get it to work on windows 10. Thoughts?

  4. Tom says:

    Never mind. I figured it out. Running Xpadder as admin fixed it. Now on to getting full screen and I am done. Thank you so much for this BuckoA51

  5. Tom says:

    No I don’t think I am playing it as admin but it works now anyway. Gonna get it running in full screen tonight then it’s onto beating this classic.

    Then I want to get Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure for Windows 95 running as well. Can you recommend any other Windows 95 games?

    Thanks again.

  6. Talhah says:

    Hey, how can i use fullscreenizer because when I go to that link and download that file I don’t see ANY executable file located there.

  7. Talhah says:

    I found out how to get fullscreenizer, open up the file with notepad in the fullscreenizer-master folder and go to the link where it says to download fullscreenizer!

  8. hexaae says:

    Unfortunately also Pitfall – The Mayan Adventure for PC has the non-looping CD music issue :(

  9. hexaae says:

    Since I’m paranoid and I hate to launch apps and games with high privileges (and this is what happens running games in compatibility mode for Win98/95 or XP)…
    FYI these are the strictly necessary MS ACT shims to set to run Earthworm Jim SE or Pitfall the Mayan Adventure by Activision on modern Windows systems, without UAC requests and high privileges:

    Compatibility fixes=VirtualRegistry, EmulateFindHandles
    Compatibility modes=Layer_Win95VersionLie

  10. bushwacker 102 says:

    How can I play it off a usb? I tried but get an error can’t find cd audio/music.

  11. SAMI says:

    Hey, I need to force Vsync in this game to cap it at 60 FPS.

    The game is a stuttery mess at 5000 FPS on my 980 Ti

  12. Kyle Pendergrass says:

    Is there a trick to ripping the audio tracks from the mix-mode cd to the folder where the game can find them? I can’t get passed the error “EarthWorm Jim cannot detect the CDROM Audio Tracks”.

    • Chris Wyatt says:

      I doubt the game would know what to do with audio files, as it was designed to play them off the CD. You want to use something like Daemon Tools, which allows you to mount a CD image virtually.

  13. Thomas Ficeto says:

    I keep getting the same error on my new Windows 10 PC.

    “EarthWorm Jim cannot detect the CDROM Audio Tracks”.

  14. Tom says:

    You need the real CD in your drive to get the audio working properly. It will not work with a burnt disc

    • malk says:

      I tried everything and I found a way to play EWJ Special Edition for Windows 95 without using the original CD! I have the original CD of the game, I tried so many software to create an image file but none worked… the only software that was able to create a functioning image file from the original CD is: CyberLink Power2Go! The format to use to create a functioning image file is “.p2i”. Try using this “Cyberlink Power2Go” SW to create this kind of image file using the original CD, Mount the image file by clicking with the right button on the created “.p2i” image file, select “Mount this image as Cyberlink Virtual Drive” and…. play the game clicking the “Worm.exe” file in your ASSETS directory! Everything will work properly without having the physical CD to be inserted in a real physical CD drive! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Chris Wyatt says:

      Works fine for me with a BIN/CUE file

  15. hexaae says:

    Still no solution to make CD music play in loop? :(

  16. tbone3969 says:

    Not to my knowledge. when I have the real CD in my drive I can get it to re-loop (start again) by clicking outside the window of the game and then going back to play the game. Not sure if that helps. Game has to be in windowed mode obviously.

    • hexaae says:

      on GitHub is even better: will allow not only correct CD play (I use an image through DAEMON Tools Lite) but also looping when the music ends. Other solutions didn’t loop music as the original game, but now we have a final solution.

  17. Pete says:

    There is another issue not mentioned yet. While CD music plays perfectly, it is the sfx that are looping. If I disable and re-enable the sfx, the first activated sfx loops in the background. Tried copying WAIL32 and set compatibility to w95, same difference.

    Using W10.

  18. Muzzy says:

    It’s worked for you? I tried on Win10x64 and music still don’t loop :(

  19. hexaae says:

    In addition to my recommendation above (YELLO-belly/cdaudio-winmm), try these settings with MS Application Compatibility Toolkit (aka Compatibility Administrator tool):
    Compatibility fixes: AdditiveRunAsHighest, ForceDefaultSystemPaletteEntries, IgnoreMessageBox*, KeepWindowOnMonitor, LoadLibraryCWD, VirtualRegistry
    Compatibility mods: Layer_Win95VersionLie

    *use this string as Parameter (Command line): *256 color*,Earthworm Jim;dispdib.dll*,Earthworm Jim
    It will hide annoying error requester because you’re modern screen is not running at 256 or 16bit.

    Compatibility fixes: AdditiveRunAsHighest, EmulateFindHandles, PropagateProcessHistory, VirtualRegistry, Win95VersionLie

    It runs perfectly fine this way on my Win10 and now Win11: CD music loops, no other issues.

  20. Pete says:

    I have no idea how to use the Windows 10 version of the compatibility tool. I run the 32bit version of Compatibility Administrator and I can see the Earthworm Jim entry in the applications. Worm.exe has compatibility fixes Delaywinmmcallback, ignoremessagebox and win95versionlie. Wormload.exe has propagateprocesshistory. But how can I add more fixes from the list below? Copying and pasting does not work and neither draging the fixes to the game entry works.

    This needs a separate guide. Fortunately game works fine on PCEM with equal performance and normal sfx and loops.

  21. hexaae says:

    You have to create a brand new (your own) “Fix”. Ignore those MS pre-defined shims.
    Here are my settings:

  22. Thomas Ficeto says:

    I just gave up and play it on my windows 95, 98, or XP machines. No issues whatsoever on them.

  23. Pete says:

    Ah OK. Now it works. Unfortunately sfx problem still persists. If I use the 2004 wail.dll, sfx option is greyed out and no sfx are heard. While if I use the 1995 wail.dll, effects appear normally on the menu, yet the first effect loops indefinetely.
    Seems some WIndows 10 update, driver or setting broke the sound on this and other games. Hence I’ll stick to the PCEM version that supports VRR too.

  24. Hexaae says:

    Copy all shims in my pic above including AdditiveRunAsHighest which is the same as running the game as Admin, and you should have both cd music and sound.

  25. Muzzy says:

    @Hexaae – Pete is right, this needs a separate guide for MS Application Compatibility Toolkit. I’m can’t make identical “FIX” to that shown in screenshot :( And how to run the Game after that if it need to use all other tricks to work?

    • hexaae says:

      I described in the msg above how to create the fix step by step with MS ACT… Then you have to Save the DB with the fix, and right-mouse-button (RMB) choose Install to install the fix to the system (compatibility fix will be saved in the registry, you don’t need MS ACT to be running in background with the game, it’s just a tool to create the fix).
      There are many guides on how to use MS ACT and I guess some Youtube videos too if you’re clueless about it… Try also this Steam Guide for another old game:

    • hexaae says:

      Ok, here is the .db file with the MS-ACT patch: just load it with MS-ACT and then save it somewhere (e.g. default “C:\Windows\apppatch”) and then Install it (will go under installed apps in your computer, so you can remove it easily).
      Now, insert game CD + YELLO-belly/cdaudio-winmm (see GitHub, to fix music loop) and run the game! You should finally be able to play this very old classic even on your brand new Win11 PC.

  26. Muzzy says:

    @hexaae – thanks for the “fix” file, but the music still not loop. Well it loops once, but on the second time it’s not :( Don’t know where is the problem. Maybe cdaudio-winmm not work correctly on my Win10x64. I tried to run PowerShell script from GitHub but it gives me some error messages – so it’s not work for me.

  27. hexaae says:

    As written you have to use this fork:

  28. Muzzy says:

    Where you can see this Extra note:
    Apparently on some machines the local winmm.dll wrapper is ignored and the real system dll is used instead. This may be because some other program has already loaded the winmm.dll library or some system setting forces the use of the real dll. (For example if the program has an ACT Database entry.) Some possible solutions:

    1.Easiest trick is to rename the game executable in order to disable any Microsoft ACT Fixes (or shims) that might prevent loading the warapper dll.
    2.The wrapper can also be forced to load by renaming it to for example to winm2.dll and hex editing the program executable to point to this renamed winmm.dll instead. There is now also a PowerShell script available in the sources to help alleviate issues where the wrapper is ignored by Windows. See:

    I tried to use this PS script but failed :(

    • hexaae says:

      Yes, you can try it. Open WORM.EXE with an hex-editor and modify winmm.dll (ACC16 hex position) and change it to wincd.dll. Then rename also the winmm.dll (from YELLO-belly/cdaudio-winmm) as wincd.dll

      • Muzzy says:

        I don’t know how to use hex-editor, that’s why I tried to use the option with PowerShell script.
        Looks like all this workaround solutions works in 50% of cases at best anyway. So the only plug n’ play solution is to play EWJ-SE on SEGA-CD :)

        • hexaae says:

          Naah, my solution works 100% when done properly by advanced user, but I understand it can be not so easy for basic users used to just install+run under Windows.

        • hexaae says:

          Good news.
          BTW my MS-ACT patch also fixes a pair of additional minor issues when launching the game: no more warning requester (“You need more than 256 color res to run this game blah blah”) and the initial (wormload.exe) mini video/logo animation gets finally played correctly on modern systems.

  29. hexaae says:

    You can use a simple online hex-editor like which is quite good.
    Load worm.exe, CTRL+F (to Find, on the right) for “winmm.dll”, change it to “wincd.dll” and save it (download modified exe). Done. At this point, just be sure you also renamed winmm.dll (from YELLO-belly/cdaudio-winmm) in the same dir of worm.exe as “wincd.dll”.
    This, plus my MS-ACT profile file in the msg above for worm.exe and wormload.exe compatibility under modern system, and you’ll have a perfectly running EW-Jim SE under your modern Windows 11, including music loop from CD (or CD bin+cue mounted through tools like Daemon Tools, as I do).

    • Muzzy says:

      Well it maybe work on your PC/Win configuration, but it’s maybe not the case for every possible Windows10/11 release.
      I changed “winmm.dll” to “wincd.dll” in hex-editor and renemed winmm.dll file, but now I got this message:”Eartworm Jim cannot detect the CD-ROM audio tracks. Please choose ‘Technical Help’ in the Loader for more information”. I hit “OK” button and game shuts down.

      • Hexaae says:

        No, the fix is universal and consists in applying Windows shims + winmm wrapper, there’s nothing system/cfg specific.
        Mmmh, one important last thing came to my mind: these old Win98 CD games required the CD to be in the first CD-ROM drive on your system. If you have f.e. drive E: (a physical CD-ROM) and F: (virtual drive using Daemon Tools) and you put CD in F: the game won’t detect the CD (original code bug)…
        Other than this last thing I ran out of ideas for your desperate case ;)
        Be assured the fix does work on every computer since it’s generic like saying to use dgVoodoo gfx wrapper or ‘Disable full screen optimization’ trick (MS-ACT actually gives you control over these kind on legacy shims still in Windows) but everything must be done correctly.

      • Hexaae says:

        Be also sure you winmm.ini looks like this:


        # Start cdaudioplr automatically:
        AutoStart = 1

        # Send an exit message to the cdaudio player on dll process detach:
        AutoClose = 1

        # Use alternate MCI device ID:
        MCIDevID = 1

        # Enable debug log output:
        Log = 0

        # Adjust startup delay in seconds (1-9)
        StartDelay = 3

        # Force all tracks to be seen as audio tracks
        AllMusicTracks = 0

        • Muzzy says:

          I guess, I finally find the weak link!
          Usually I start game with “start_game.cmd” file, that recomended in NOTES to YELLO-belly/cdaudio-winmm. But after changes with MS-ACT and “winmm.dll” it gives me error messages.
          NOW when I start directly “WORM.EXE” file – the music is in loop!
          The only thing that not work properly is “helicopter-head” sfx, – sometimes it works, but most time it play just first sound and then just silence.
          THANKS for help, Hexaae!!!

          • hexaae says:

            Good news.
            BTW my MS-ACT patch also fixes a pair of additional minor issues when launching the game: no more warning requester (“You need more than 256 color res to run this game blah blah”) and the initial (wormload.exe) mini video/logo animation gets finally played correctly on modern systems.

  30. Jonathan Scher says:


    I am using the CD rom, I downloaded the zip file wail32.dlll and overwote the one for the game on a new folder, I have it run as windows 95 on my windows 10 pc and the game works, even my modern atari vcs controller but I have a problem with the game. I can’t advance in the game. In level 1 when you go in the toilet, you’re supposed to go as Jim without his suit. Well when I go in the toilet, the game reboots itself, like it sends me back to the menu and the game starts over. Does anyone know how to fix this issue so I can play the entire game proper?

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