Bye bye

When we weren't playing on their SNES, I had the odd game or two of Worms on my cousins' computer, which could well have been my first introduction to the idea that video games can be serious and silly. Serious in that there is strategy and skill required to master this game, and silly in that you're hurling grenades at a bunch of worms with high pitched voices.

Whether it is or isn't a seriously silly game, Worms is the kind of title that you've probably played at some point just because someone else introduced you to it and there was just no reason not to. It's Worms - sit tight and wait for your turn.

Fun Times

Once you've found all the buttons you need, Worms plays quite simply, making the ease of entry into the game a doddle for most gamers. Select your weapon, move your worm, aim and fire, all within a generous enough time limit (try agreeing with that when you're panicing after 40 seconds).

Deal enough damage to the enemy team - through the use of bazookas, grenades, shotguns, air strikes, dragon punches, dynamite, blowtorches and more - so that you are the last worm standing and you take the round. The sooner your foes turn into a tombstone, or fly off the map, or drown, the better, as there will now be fewer opposition worms raining high explosives into your face.


And they do find your face. Often. Regardless of the variable wind.

Enemies can be absolutely stupid, doing more damage to themselves than others, but some teams have such great worms that you'd swear their shots were guided by a supercomputer. Whereas you learn through trial and error how high to aim, how to use the wind to your advantage, how much power to put into a shot and so on, some enemy worms can thread their bazooka missile through a needle, wind assisted, to score a direct hit. It can get absurd, and if you're on the receiving end with only four worms in your team, you're going to feel hard done by.

If one or more enemy teams are controlled by a fellow human being, however...

Further Fun Times

Level the playing field so that you're competing against real people who can't adjust for the wind and you've got yourself a game for all kinds of gamers.

Have a laugh prodding worms off ledges, or trying and failing to dangle from a bungee cord. Get tunnelling with a blow torch in the hopes of hiding out the round until sudden death - but remember to check that you still have the blowtorch equipped before mindlessly pressing the space bar.

When there's no skill at play, the luck of how hard you bounce or where any nearby mines have been dispersed to may well turn the game a bit sour for some players, but when a shot triggers a chain reaction where the scenery explodes and dying worms cause further damage to nearby worms, who could in turn die and blow up and harm other nearby worms, then you've got the makings of a game of laughs - especially if all you have to do is prod someone off a ledge.

Further Frustrations

If you can see them, that is. The two views available (that I found, at least) are 'squint to see' and 'zoomed out'. They do the job - you can see all the explosions - but fine tuning your shots or seeing the animation is something that you'll not be doing a whole lot of.

Final Word

With randomly generated maps and pages of customisation options for both the game itself and the teams you can play with, even down to their accents and gravestone shape, Worms is an obvious choice for a group of players without a care in the world. Set up a tournament, tweak the rules to your liking and be sure to not shoot a bazooka at full power into the nearest pixel of scenery that you failed to notice (good luck with that one).

Subsequent releases and sequels add a load more weapons and a more approachable and cartoony look, but this is the one that got that series started. It's worth playing to see where it all came from, but Worms has improved since Worms, so if I'm in the mood to get violent against a bunch of slugs, I'll go for something more recent.

That said, if it's all you have, you're still going to have a blast, and the more players you have, the bigger that blast you'll have.

Fun Facts

Worms began life as an entry for a programming competition. It didn't win, and the idea had little luck in being sold on to any publishers at all until Team17 bought it on the spot.

Worms, developed by Team17, first released in 1995.
Version played: PC, 1995.