Worms infest your Dreamcast one last time. - Review By Tren
Worms World Party is the latest Worms title from UK based software developer Team17. For those not in the know, Worms started off as a small game for MS-DOS and the Commodore Amiga. The original inspiration for the title was from an old turn-based battle game called Tanks. In Tanks, players controlled tanks and took turns firing missiles at one another. This was achieved through the entering of two numeric values per turn: one for the missile's velocity and another for the missile's projection angle. For each turn you'd see a visual display of the missile's path, allowing the adjusting of the projection and velocity values each go until a direct hit could be made. The first player to judge the angle and velocity correctly enough to score a hit on their opponent's tank was the winner.
Worms took this simple premise and turned it into a massive turn based strategy warfare title. As in Tanks, the players took turns to attempt to inflict damage on their opponents by judging the game's physics engine. However, thanks to an increased arsenal of varied weapons, each with their own strengths and weakness in particular situations, the simple Tanks idea was taken much further. Each player's turn was limited by a timer, in which the player could move his or her worm about the 2D landscape as much as possible before taking their shot in time. "Shots" weren't just limited to weaponry through, defensive items were also selectable meaning Worms matches could be lengthy, strategic affairs very comparable to long games of chess. The original Worms was a massive success across many platforms, and a few years ago spawned an excellent PC sequel made several additions to the game's weapons, totally overhauled the blocky DOS graphics to a modern 2-D cartoon feel and also added on-line play.
Worms 2 was excellent as a multiplayer game, but was very weak in the the single player department. On the subsequent upgrade, Worms Armageddon, Team17 concentrated on designing custom single player levels with real challenges on special custom maps. While the single player game was really improved, several clumsy additions to the standard weaponry made the game unbalanced and thus the Internet popularity of the title never really took off. Early on, near the Dreamcast's launch, we got a conversion of the ill-conceived title, however the game was stripped of its Internet features due to the Sega network not being quite ready.
The worms just go bang bang bang over anything, even this rooster.
Having learned from their mistakes, Team17 has set about creating the ultimate version of Worms, under the name Worms World Party. With the promise of a well balanced arsenal of weapons (replete with several hidden comedy weapons) and more of the great single player missions from Worms Armageddon, Worms World Party should correct all the mistakes of Worms Armageddon before it. Sure, the addition of on-line play is a good thing for Dreamcast owners, but has Team17 really fixed the balance this time? Read on to find out.
Worms is remarkably easy to control with the Dreamcast pad. The D-pad is used for moving your worm around the landscape, the analog pad is used to look around the landscape, the X and B buttons are used for making your worm jump, and the triggers and remaining buttons allow the selection and firing of the different weapons.
The graphics are great in a cutesy 2D fashion, and the animation in particular is very good. Each of the different landscape types, ranging from snow levels to desert levels is very well drawn. While the graphics are hardly pushing the Dreamcast, the soundtrack is superb. Fantastic tense music and effects really compliment the gameplay and certainly turn the competition and intensity of gameplay up a notch. The general weapon sound effects are solid, too, but what really makes the game are the hilarious worm sound effects. During the game the worms taunt one another, shout ridiculous insults, and make funny noises when shot or destroyed.
Not all levels look cute. Nothing cute about this level. Nothing at all.
Suffice to say all of this would be of little consequence if Team17 hadn't rectified the weapon balance from the last game and toned down the inclusion of the over-powerful comedy weapons a little. Thankfully, this game more than lives up to Team17's claims and is definitely the best incarnation of Worms we've had yet. The weapons are very well designed, with several hilarious comedy weapons available to collect. Each weapon has had a lot of thought put into it, and there are no unnecessary inclusions or worthless weapons at all. A good worms player will be able to spot which situation each weapon is best for, and try and save the finite weapons til they're really needed (the basic bazookas, grenades, bullet weapons. and fire punches are all available in infinite supply). Having to know when to conserve and utilize each weapon makes for a great strategy game, both on-line and off.
Worms World Party certainly harks back to the days of the original, where skill is an essential requirement to get the good shots in and position your worms well at the end of each go. Every time you play you can generate completely new levels, and those you take particular fancy to can be saved on the VMU. The single player game is just as good as Worms Armageddon, although still not totally perfect, it can still provide a good few hours of fun and is a great experience to practise with before playing the large multiplayer games (if you're new to Worms you'll pick up a lot of the better weapon techniques from these missions).
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