|a game by||Team17 Software Limited|
|Platforms:||PC, Playstation 2|
|User Rating:||9.0/10 - 2 votes|
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|See also:||Puzzle Games, Worms Games|
Let's be brutally honest. The whole Worms thing is little more than a cutesified reworking of a blueprint laid down by Scorched Earth and other artillery combat games over a decade ago, smeared with enough visual gloss and innocuous humour to fool the kids into thinking they’re having fun. Load up on weapons, generate some destroyable terrain and use the science of ballistics to obliterate your opponents. Strength, elevation, wind adjust... fire! Actually, come to think of it, it was kind of fun, despite being almost entirely unoriginal, and funnily enough this seems to have set the precedent for Team 17’s latest outing, Worms Blast.
For those who haven't put two and two together yet, this is not just another Worms game. It’s not turn-based nor is it teambased, there's no Ninja Ropes or Ming Vases, just a few worms/sheep/donkeys, a handful of weapons and loads of, er... bobbles. That’s right, bobbles, or 'cells’ as they’re called here. Why? Because, as vehemently as the publicity tries to deny it, Worms Blast is the inbred love child of Worms and arcade puzzler Puzzle Bobble.
Squeal Like A Worm
But, you persist, does it work? Well, as anyone who has ever looked on their cousin with more than just familial warmth will tell you, inbred children tend to have moments of both toothless, slack-jawed stupidity and sporadic banjo-duelling virtuosity, and Worms Blast is no exception. At a glance, it is Puzzle Bobble, but with worms firing bazookas out of boats instead of a central bubble launcher. Enough familiar elements have been retained for the game to be at once instantly accessible and painfully apish - rows of steadily descending cells, coloured projectiles, and the ability to add to your opponent’s headaches at a stroke.
Where things take a huge turn is with the addition of Worms-style artillery, signalling a shift from sniper-scope accuracy and frantic screen-clearing to a slower, less panicky affair in which the liberation of weapon crates is key. Rather than losing when the orbs hit the ground, you only die if your boat is sunk or the lower cells hit you on the head - often leading to moments of hair-pulling injustice when you die from the merest bump against some danglers. Rising water levels, falling objects and a health bar also jostle for your attention, but the most enlivening feature is a gate which opens up between the two halves of the playing field, allowing players to lob missiles at each other. Of course there’s also a wide selection of extra weapons and power-ups to employ, mostly designed to drop something nasty in your opponent's lap.
While the purity of the bubble popping concept is essentially bastardised by all these elements, most of it meshes surprisingly well and the end result is, in the grand tradition of Worms, a good laugh with a mate, if not particularly original. Then again all this describes only the main head-to-head mode in the game, on top of which exists a huge overabundance of crap variations and singleplayer puzzle modes that no-one will ever play. Not an essential purchase for Worms fans then, but could be a bit of fun when it hits budget -something I’d imagine will happen all too quickly.