Earthworm Jim 2003 or the Earthworm Jim 2003 reboot was the tentative name of an ultimately cancelled development project by Interplay Entertainment in early 2003.
Very little official information has been ever released on the short-lived project, although it is known that the the goal of which would have been to make a new installment in the Earthworm Jim video game series. It was not, however, the long awaited (and to-date announced but still stuck in development) Earthworm Jim 4, but was said to be a game in addition to it, and set in the same fictional universe. It would have been a 3D fixed position side-scrolling adventure for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
Before it was cancelled, concept artwork and even a prototype game engine had been developed, although it has never been stated which game developer was a actually involved. Interplay canned the project when it was decided that it was, financially, too risky a venture. The poor reception of Interplay's earlier Earthworm Jim 3D, and the handheld game Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy, may have been a factor in this decision.
In 2009, a former Interplay staffer who was involved in Earthworm Jim 2003 gave an interview about the history of the project, stating:
"These were concepts for a possible reboot of the Earthworm Jim series back when I was working at Interplay Entertainment in 2003. Unfortunately it never got beyond the pre-production stage. We had kicked around some ideas, with the thinking that the basic structure of the game would be somewhat like Klonoa (or in more current terms, the side-scroll Sonic sections of the newer games), in that it would be a 3D environment, but viewed along a track with a fixed camera. Jim's head would be used to not only swing and attack, but also as a grappling appendage that could hoist heavy objects. Aside from a few tests and the concepts you see, it never really got beyond what you see. I worked on it for a while, and once we nailed the look we (the team) all liked, things started to fall into place visually. Of all the things we talked about doing - and lots of crazy ideas get tossed around during the early stages of development - the thing I was looking forward to most was a musical sequence. I had planned out a part where Jim went to Heck (hell) and had to do a boat ride through the river Styx. Jim was all mopey because he was dead, and the Grim Reaper turns to him (in the small boat) and says "Cheer up Jim...it's not that bad." [in a terribly over the top British accent] and whips off his robe to reveal the Zuit Suit (you'll see it in my concepts). At this point, it was going to be a whacky musical boat ride into Heck, to the tune of the Squirrel Nut Zippers song Afterlife/Hell. There would have been dancing skeletons, and demons and stuff as they travel down the river."
When asked about the Cyclops monster in a coliseum he said:
"He was a boss, for a level made entirely of cheese. Imagine Rome, constructed of cheese, with the citizens all being mice, wearing togas. He was the "Gorgon Zola". Made of cheese, with a pimento olive for a head (the red pimento being his eye). There would have been a showdown/boss-battle within the Fondue Coliseum, with cheering/jeering mice in the crowd."
A gallery of the concept art for Earthworm Jim 2003.