Mention the word worms to any pc/console owner you bump into, and the chances are he or she would have a nostalgic tear in their eye to the phenomenon known as worms. We have all spent considerable time taking our little termites to war, and I for one have burnt many a midnight oil just to pass that final level. There's no doubt about it, the Worms formula was one of the most ingenious and successful games, simple and fun. After generations of worms and slight addons/variations to this worn-out genre, the delightful people at Team17 decided to give us yet another taste of worms, the latest incarnation known as Worms Blast. Generally speaking, the game is an unashamed mix between Worms and the Bust-A-Move games, taking more from the latter and less than the former. In fact, the worms label was probably kept to generate more sales rather than to influence the game. Battle Bust-A-Move might have been more appropriate! (for those that are not familiar with Bust-A-Move, the game involved puzzle solving in the form of shooting bubbles onto others of the same colour, to make them disappear) The idea of making a hybrid game between two very different genres is crazy to say the least, and unfortunately not as good as it might have been.
The game sticks to its oh-so-cute origins, adding a very slight cell-shading on the main characters (details to follow). Other than that it looks like a well made children's art book. The game does nothing whatsoever to challenge your dazzling new Geforce 4, and would look at home 5 years ago. Despite that, it serves the purpose of the game very well, although the odd mayhem moments might be confusing. There are no fancy FMVs or Cut scenes around. The in-game interface is plain and simple, with an indicator for the weapon you're using and it's colour (see below), and for your health and number of victories.
Sound / Music
The music in this game is disappointing indeed, and does not enhance your experience. The developers have opted to go back to a style of music similar to Worms 2, a. k. a. the sleazy jazz-like music that would have felt good in a Leisure Suit Larry game. This music might appeal to some, but during a death match game with all the bells and whistles, it feels right out of place. The sound effects are the standard you might expect, with of course the familiar cries of victory/loss/pain that we are so used to.
It's a difficult task to talk about Worms Blast without quoting some other review or being very unoriginal. The game is bust-a-move with the word worms slapped on it. I will try to explain it as easily as possible without prejudicing either of the original games. Worms Blast has 3 modes of play:
1- Puzzle: this is the part that borrows the most from bust-a-move. Basically, you chose your character (a range of worms, old ladies, and animals) and you're off to solve screen after screen of increasingly difficult puzzles. Navigation of the screen is left and right only, as you paddle your way around the screen (yes, you're playing in a boat! a clever way to keep the water of the original worms in the game). The up/down arrows aim your bazooka, and the fire button shoots the coloured missiles (as always, the longer you hold fire the stronger the shot). Your task in the majority of puzzles is to clear the screen from the various coloured tiles that hang above you, or to shoot certain targets. This can be achieved by shooting the tiles according to their colour, e.g. a yellow coloured tile with a yellow missile. Of course as any puzzle enthusiast will tell you, various chain reactions can result from a simple shot, and these prove to be essential in the later stages. Some original variations to this rather tedious theme do exist, one of which is frantically paddling your way to safety from an invading snake made out of tiles, that seems determined that you're it's next meal. Some crates hang about the levels, which are reminiscent of the original Worms. They of course carry some goodies, in the form of super strong lasers, health increases and so on.
2- Tournament: this mode consists of various types of target shooting games.
I personally enjoyed none of them, and will spare the kind reader (and myself) the trouble of explaining them. To put it short, hit as many targets as possible as fast as possible. This can be applied in a million ways, five of which are in Worms Blast. I leave the enjoyment of discovering them to the player!
3- Versus: these are the only multiplayer games in the game, and are for a maximum of 2 players only! You can choose between playing against the PC or a friend on the same computer. This mode, also, has a number of variations:1- Deathmatch: here, you and your enemy share the screen, with a wooden barrier in between. Each player has his own set of tiles/crates and cannot enter the other player's territory. The main objective is to "kill" your enemy, at the same time ensuring that you clear your own tiles as they are at a constant decline towards the bottom (and your doom).
Inflicting damage on your neighbour can be done in various ways, as collecting super-weapons from the crates (a bizarre collection of attacking Piranha's, homing sub missiles and even fireball rain!). It is worthwhile to mention that crates fall down as you clear the tiles beneath them. The wooden barrier in between the areas randomly develops a gap and opens for a limited period of time, also allowing you to shoot your opponent, or shoot his blocks (if you shoot his blocks with a different coloured missile, they turn into "dead" blocks that require two shots of the same colour to disappear, thus hindering his progress. He can, of course, do the same to you!). This feature adds a nice random panic to an otherwise standard game. 2- Star Collection: as the name implies, collect as many stars as possible to win. The same features of the above game, but with random stars between the tiles that you should try to drop and collect. They do tend to explode (and sink)!
3- Tide Trial: in essence the same as star collection, but the water you are floating on is rising constantly, and the more you collect stars the slower it rises.
Overall, many variations that are good for a quick game while you wait for that download to finish. It's like having a box full of 15 different chocolates, which in reality are all chocolates.
The only multiplayer option in Worms Blast is a vs. game, for 2 players only.
The major winning factor for the Worms games is that they are extra fun to play against your mates after the pub, or over the net. The multiplayer factor was awesome, and even granny can play on a Sunday afternoon after a 5 minute run through of the simple controls. Team17 have totally thrown this simplicity out of the window, and opted for a more frantic, 1 vs. 1 game.
This game is disappointing in more than one aspect. It plays no justice to both excellent games that it is a mixture of, and has no appeal to anybody. You can't buy it for your kids as it has complex puzzles and deathmatches, you won't sit and play it yourself as single player, and you won't bother teaching your half-drunk mate how to shoot a missile through a wooden hole! If you're a die-hard bust-a-move fan this game is for you. If you're a die-hard worms fan then I advise stay away, your favourite worms were used as a "face" for a puzzle game that Team17 felt like making in their lunch break.