Reviewed: February 2, 2003
Released: October 23, 2002
The Worms series of games has been around for quite awhile now, but Worms Blast is my first experience with the franchise. Unfortunately, this particular game strays far from the successful formula of the previous games and takes the series into a new genre.
At first glance, Worms Blast looks to be your typical puzzle game style much like another Ubisoft game, Super Bust-A-Move 2. The premise is simple. You shoot colored blocks with colored ammo. If the color of the ammo matches the block it vanishes along with any adjacent blocks of like color. If not, the block assumes the color the ammo it was hit with. Of course that is oversimplifying the concept, as the various objectives become much more complex than just clearing a playing field within the time limit.
Worms Blast features:
The first place to start is the tutorial that will ease you into the rules and basic strategy of Worms Blast. Almost every level has a new objective that requires a new style of gameplay. You might have to destroy x-many blocks in one mission only to run around and avoid being touched by a giant snake in the next, or you may have to strategically shoot down several giant apples without hitting the tree they are hanging from.
When it comes time to play the game you can choose from the Puzzle mode that has you traveling around a map to 60 scenic locations, each with challenging puzzles that must be conquered before moving to the next location. The Tournament mode is an endurance test that has you playing all sorts of mini-games for as long as you can to get the highest score. The Vs. mode lets you challenge another human or the devious computer AI and there are several variations of gameplay to keep you coming back for more.
While shooting colored blocks is the general theme of the various levels this is usually just the means to a more complicated objective. You may need to collect x-many falling stars or collect new weapons by shooting down crates. Just when you think you have the game “figured out” they up and change the gameplay or objectives. It may confuse many gamers, but I found it a refreshing change from the more predictable puzzle games like Tetris that become all too repetitive.
The multiplayer aspect of Worms Blast is wonderfully executed and even if you don’t have somebody to play against you can challenge the computer and experience the challenging head-to-head modes. Some of these are as simple as a race to clear your field of blocks while others let you shoot at your opponent, drop water mines, or even change their water level.
Of course any game is only as good as its controls and Worms Blast suffers from some rather poor controls, at least when you play with the keyboard. Even when I hooked up my Gravis gamepad the control only improved marginally. The problem likes in the fact that you move your character back and forth using the left and right arrows and aim your weapons with the up and down. The timing often becomes so fast that you simply cannot change directions, move, aim, and fire fast enough. You end up trying to settle for a working angle and strafe the bottom of the screen.
The graphics are simple yet quite pleasing. The background art is wonderful and looks like those painted backgrounds from old-style Sierra adventure games. The character art is clever and often humorous although most of the characters looked just too weird for me. I settled on the bird, which was about the only thing I could identify. It’s my understanding that many of the characters from previous Worms games are back, but if you haven’t played those then that won’t mean much.
The rest of the graphics rely on colorful foreground objects like brightly colored blocks, stars, boxes, and weapons of interesting design. Animation is nice with my bird pedaling his inflatable raft back and forth and firing his bazooka. The colorful bursts of paint splash on the blocks or remove those of like color and lasers tear through everything in their path or ricochet off the bouncy blocks.
The music in Worms Blast is nice but there really isn’t enough of it, which means it will get repetitive long before you are finished playing this game. The rest of the sound presentation is pretty standard stuff you would expect from a puzzle game. Blips, pops, splashes, and a few interesting weapon sounds make up the bulk of the game’s audio library. It’s nothing new and nothing noteworthy, but it works.
The 60 missions in the puzzle mode will keep you busy for 15-20 hours depending on your skill with these types of games. Many missions will take you several attempts to figure out the solution while others require practice, patience, and a good dose of luck. There are even a few hidden characters and game modes you can unlock.
The tournament and multiplayer games will keep you entertained much longer, and I really couldn’t give a fixed number of hours. This is one of those games you will play as long as you continue to enjoy it.
Worms Blast may fall victim to its own design, which fails to settle on a given premise or set of rules. By mixing up the gameplay and missions objectives with almost every mission you never quite know what to expect next. This may turn off traditional puzzle gamers even though I found the eclectic mix of modes refreshing.
And a final note for Worms fans – this game is nothing like the other games in the series, so make sure you know what you are in for before you tackle this latest installment. This game may have a limited audience, but I thought it was a ‘blast”.