Earnest Evans is a 1991 platform sidescroller made by Wolf Team, with music composed by Motoi Sakuraba for the Sega MegaCD (in Japan only), with a watered down Genesis/MegaDrive port released overseas. It is chronologically the first chapter of the "Earnest Evans trilogy", ironically being the only game in which you play as Earnest.
The game takes place in 1926. U.S. treasure hunter Earnest Evans is sent on a special requested assignment by President Calvin Coolidge to obtain the Necronomicon. Despite not usually taking jobs or requests, curiosity gets the better of Earnest and he accepts the job...and along the way, finds himself entangled in a sinister plot hatched by mafia bigwig Al Capone and cult leader Ulrich to resurrect the dark god Hastur. During his adventure, Earnest is joined by Annet Myer, the heroine of El Viento, whom he finds in an old temple, offered as a sacrifice to Hastur, and the enigmatic Zigfried Munchaunsen, a(n eventually) former colleague of Capone who also seeks to stop the return of Hastur.
The Mega Drive/Genesis version goes a different route, set in the 1980s, thus attempting to make it a sequel to El Viento, wherein you are Earnest Evans' grandson, also called Earnest Evans, as you attempt to collect three special idols before they are used by a never-appearing villain named Brady Tresidder, to summon another dark god called Mavur. Or, at least, that's what the manual says.
The titular hero is made up of multiple sprites put together to create the illusion of more fluid movement, a sprite technique that would later be used to better effect by Capcom for X-Men: Children of the Atom on the Sentinel and Cyberbots, and Konami's Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
Up until April 2018, plot details were scarce due to a lack of interest in translating the game's dialogue up until a collaboration between shmuplations and RageQuitter87 helped shed light onto the game's story for westerners. You can read the translation of this game (as well as a general guide) in the Earnest/Annet trilogy shrine by RageQuitter87 here, where he also has a look at El Viento and distant sequel Annet Futatabi.
This game provides examples of:
- Alliterative Name: Earnest Evans.
- All There in the Manual: The plot is completely relegated to this for the Genesis port due to space limitations. No cutscenes at all.
- Anachronism Stew: Though it's set in 1926, at one point we see a newspaper advertising Iron Maiden's World Slavery tour◊ as well as a random headline about British rock group The Adicts. Who knew they could time travel? These references would have made much more sense in the American version, which had its setting moved up to the 1980s...too bad the cutscene that featured those papers was completely removed.
- Bullet Hell: One of the bosses in the final level.
- Catching Some Z's: When getting the sleeping potion.
- Deranged Animation: Earnest, who moves like a deranged marionette and flails a whip around like he's insane.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The game's Final Boss is a piece of Hastur unleashed by the villains. Earnest is still able to whip it into submission allowing Annet to seal it back up. And deal with him again many years later.
- Drives Like Crazy: Annet in level 6 is likely to accidentally hit Earnest and ends up ramming into a wall.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Giant bugs, moai statues, giant knife-throwing scorpions, earthworms, giant floating worms, coal monster, bouncing ribcages, windworms, death traps, giant spiders, floating skulls and so on.
- Expy: The game itself could be considered one big Indiana Jones ripoff, with Earnest wielding a whip, outrunning a boulder (When the game works right), the game itself being set in the 1920s similar to the Indy movies generally being set around World War II and at one point you can get a powerup which has Earnest don a hat. Which also gives him a flame whip, leading to comparisons with Castlevania, including to do with the platforming elements and Earnest using a whip.
- Fake Difficulty: One of the worst examples. To quote slowbeef, who says the line several times during his riff on the game:[seeing attacks that covers the entire screen or leave no space to dodge them]slowbeef: HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DODGE THAT?
- Flash of Pain: Enemies flash when hit.
- Giant Spider: One of the enemies encountered.
- Heel–Face Turn: When Zigfried first appears to Earnest and Annet, he is not on their side, giving a good dose of Evil Laughter and hostility as well as holding the Necronomicon that Earnest is looking for. Unfortunately he also has issues with Al Capone siding with Ulrich's cult in a plot to destroy humanity, so Capone imprisoned him. Zigfried ultimately joins Earnest as thanks for rescuing him offscreen. Ironically, Zigfried (or rather, Nyarlathotep) had evil plans of his own in Annet Futatabi.
- Human Sacrifice: Annet is about to become one when Earnest rescues her.
- Hyperactive Metabolism: Earnest can eat apples and roast chickens found in old caves and temples with no fear of food poisoning. Logically the roast meat in Level 1 would be dust by now.
- Indy Escape: In the first level once the boss has been beaten...although due to bad coding you can jump over the boulder and end up with the paradoxical sight of the boulder outrunning you. Follow that boulder, Indy!. Albeit several smaller rocks will try to get you too, but still.
- Played far more straight in the credits which features a repeating animation of Earnest outrunning a boulder...which squashes him at last when the credits finish.
- Ludicrous Mêlée Accuracy: In the introduction FMV, he whips the cigarette in the companion's mouth.
- Lovecraft Lite: Despite the presence of cults dedicated to the return of their Lovecraftian dark gods, the series doesn't exactly convey a sense of existential cosmic dread.
- Made of Explodium: A lot of the enemies explode gloriously in this game.
- Mercy Invincibility: Horridly averted. Nothing can stop Earnest from taking damage rapidly before getting killed.
- Naked on Arrival/Naked First Impression: Annet first appears to both Earnest and the audience nude on a sacrificial altar. Earnest gives her his jacket.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Al Capone appears in the cutscene preceding level 6, looking quite unlike his real self. Sega CD only, though. Its arguable whether Brady was meant to be this for him in the Genesis port.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Earnest is able to reclaim the Necronomicon back from Zigfried, rescue Zigfried from Capone's clutches, get captured himself and escape and even get Capone arrested...and all these are merely told to us by Earnest in cutscene form.
- Our Presidents Are Different: President Coolidge of the somewhat Personable type. He hires Earnest to search for the Necronomicon which Earnest, despite not usually taking requests, agrees to out of insatiable curiosity towards the book. After all is said and done though, in the ending, Coolidge decides that even with the immense power it holds, America has no need of it, not with the wars to come.
- Pointless Band-Aid: Earnest's cheek bandage. Assumed to be pointless since it disappears in cutscenes at times.
- Poison Mushroom: The sleeping potion. Get this and Earnest will just fall asleep, leaving him vulnerable to enemy attacks.
- Ragdoll Physics: Earnest. Combining this with a somewhat slippery engine and his somewhat Off-Model sprite tends to leave him flailing around like a loose marionette.
- Raiders of the Lost Parody: The game is pretty much this, all the way to the "rolling boulder scene" in the closing credits that squashes Earnest in the end. The titular hero is a whip-wielding archaeologist, chasing after a macguffin that would summon the dark god Hastur and end the world. The first level is very much like the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark, rolling boulder and all (though a bug allows you to get behind the boulder) and subsequent levels have Earnest travel the world shown with a red line along a map. About the only element absent is the Nazis, replaced by both the cult of Hastur, and the Capone Mafia.
- Shout-Out: An anachronism-tastic shout out to Iron Maiden at one point, as well as the recurring appearance of the Necronomicon as well as all the Cthulthu shout outs. The mooks in level 6 also have a stunning resemblance to Guile.
- Spikes of Doom: This game has quite a lot of them.
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: In the few bits where there's water, and level 11, which is entirely underwater in a boss fight with a mutant fish, Earnest sees no need to surface for air or find air bubbles.
- Weapon Specialization: Evans' default weapon is a whip.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Ulrich the cult leader, who speaks with Al Capone in level 6's cutscene never appears again afterward, though its likely he was the penultimate boss in level 12 since in El Viento the cult is now led by Henry.
- Wrap Around: A strange example in level 11's boss fight. It wraps vertically and is quite noticeable, considering the room has no floor. So you can let yourself fall and watch yourself pass by the boss repeatedly.