Worms is based on that old gaming gem Tanks. Basically you and an opponent lob bombs at each other, which inflict damage dependent on how close they land to your character. But in this game you have worms instead of tanks and there are 15 weapons to choose from along with six other items of inventory which are designed to make life easier and more interesting. These include a teleporter, a bungy rope and a pneumatic drill. You have a team of four worms and you can name this team whatever you like (up to eight characters in length). You can also name each worm. Then simply select how many human and computer players you want to play against, tweak some game options and start.
Worms is a turn based game, with each player having the opportunity to move one worm at a time, select a weapon and try to kill or damage another player's worm (or worms, the more the merrier). There a user definable time limit on each turn of 10, 20, 30 or 60 seconds. And that's it. Simple, effective and damned good fun. It's addictive too, with the sort of gameplay that made Lemmings and Cannon Fodder what they were.
Life is never predictable, as life insurance companies never tire of telling us. One minute you're enjoying a full and varied existence, with friends, loved ones, milk and honey all around and the next minute some plonker swings down on a bungee and knocks you over a cliff. Sounds pessimistic? Well just be glad you're not a worm
Worms is a game we actually previewed twice Once way back in February when Team 17 were still going it alone, had just discovered Worms (then under the working title of Total Wormage) and it was a raw, but exciting game to play. Then, two months ago, we were presented with an almost finished version. A lot happened in the interim months. Team 17 had signed a distribution deal with Ocean that not only opened up new international territories for them, it also paved the way for what was now simply called Worms to be converted onto every conceivable computer and console format there is. This caused big delays though, considering that, under original plans. Worms was due out around Easter '95.
Has Worms benefited from this delay? Almost certainly. Despite what we normally say about other games machines the very fact that it's been developed across so many platforms has led to a number of enhancements which have made the Amiga version more playable. A good example would be the menu tool bar. In the original Amiga version you accessed all weapons and aids using the F keys. Fair enough if you have a good memory. But because it had to work on consoles, which don't have F keys, the tool bar was invented. When you become an experienced Worms player you will no doubt return to the F keys and rarely use this feature, but as a beginner it is invaluable in helping you to get to know the various options at your disposal.
The graphics have been tweaked too, though in fairness to its inventor and programmer. Andy Davidson, they haven't changed much in basic detail. Various levels like Hell (which has apparently been banned on the Playstation version 'cos Sony didn't want burning crucifixes in the game). Desert. Forest. Mars and Snow serve up massive variety. There are allegedly 4 billion possible game scenarios. There are also some hidden scenarios which, with some experimentation, will appear.
Landscapes like Snow and Mars have specific characteristics which suit the terrain: Snow is slippery, so worms will slide all over the place when hit; Mars has low gravity so they can jump much further than normal. The scrolling and parallax are as smooth as snails slime too (I mean this in a complimentary sense) - the extra time on development really does show.
The dark side
As strategy games go Worms can be as simple or as complicated as you like. It's not just a matter of lobbing bombs at the enemy, it's all about how you use hiding places, create safe tunnels, use the bungy, the teleporter and the girders. Team 17 have put 1000s of man hours into playtesting Worms and they reckon there's two ways of approaching the game: Good and Evil. If you're playing on the side of good you don't play dirty: you don't hide and you don't dig tunnels or teleport your Worms into difficult to reach places. Doing this is lazy, they reckon, and it's called 'The Dark Side'. Other Dark Side tactics include hiding a worm until the end of the game and then polishing off the opposition by emerging and pneumatic drilling them to death.
All of this mayhem is accompanied by ridiculously cute and funny sound samples. The A500/600 version is a bit short of these, but the A1200 is positively brimming with fun noises and statements. Worms shout 'oy nutter!', 'revenge' and 'I'll get you' regularly and when dynamite is dropped they giggle maniacally. Air strikes and weapons drops are accompanied by jet aircraft noises and thunder and lightning strikes every now and then.
If you want a change from the English samples you could always load up German or French versions, where threats are made and fun is had in another language. This does not effect gameplay because instructions, weapons, etc don't change language but it adds to the mirth. OK. it's not Linguaphone, but you might just pick up some useful phrases. One thing to be wary of though is that while these sounds are good fun for those playing Worms they can get very, very annoying if you're in the background listening. If the volume is turned up you can expect a thick ear before long.
Some years ago Lemmings took the world by storm with its relatively simple but engaging gameplay It was often frustrating, but always funny and the big bonus was that it appealed to all ages and to both sexes. The Lemmings sprites were cute too. Worms is made from the same mould, and given that it is being distributed worldwide by Ocean it could be as successful.
It appeals equally to hardened games players and computer virgins because of its easy to use interface and immediately involving gameplay. If I was to make a must have-recommendation for a game this Christmas. Worms is it ...
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