Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Thoughts - Sweet, Sweet Worms

Back when they still looked cool, and not just like big-headed chicken fodder

You know what game is awesome? Worms. None of the weird 3D and golf-iterations that came eventually, but the very first one released in 1995. I'm not saying this as someone who just discovered it, but rather someone who rediscovered it. I remember sitting in front of some friends computer, hours on end, playing round after round - in that sense it has a lot incommon with HoMM3, albeit not quite as good.

It was just the other day, I can't even remember what made me think of it really, when I suddenly thought of Worms and how much fun that game is - at least if you have someone to play against. I immediately decided I needed to buy it and play some and found it on Steam for 6 euro and thought they were having a laugh. I bought a Steam code on Ebay for a pound instead and installed it at once. It might be nostalgia, but the first Worms game is definitely the best one if you ask me. It's just something about those simple graphics that the other games never could reproduce. And I think the simplicity of Worms is really what makes it so good. It has that also in common with HoMM3 in that it is stupidly simple to learn the basics but to pull of them neat rope tricks and legendary cluster-mess ups you need to practice, practice, practice. A friend of mine was a pure ninja with the rope, there was rarely a place on the map he could not go and he just laughed at the teleport (admittedly with this friend I played a later version of Worms). I never got that skilled at moving around or do well-aimed punts with the grenades but put my eggs in the "luck favors the bold"- basket, a tactic that worked surprisingly well in Worms.

Guess they were worms because the graphics didn't allow much else -

The real beauty of Worms was that eventhough being skilled at it gave you an upper hand, it was amazingly designed in leveling the playing field (at least between me and my friends). Randomized maps made sure everyone were equal in terms of knowledge of the playing field. Randomized placement on said map made sure everyone could be the lucky or unlucky one of the round. Furthermore, few other games I have played have managed to put the noob and the veteran if not at equal skill-terms, then at least on equal fun-terms. Because you had a team of worms, losing one wasn't a disaster. It often happened that the person who lost almost his entire team in the beginning made a come-back and ended up winning. If you were a handful of people this often happened because you'd direct your fire elsewhere once you deemed someone not to be much of a threat anymore, allowing them to reap the benefits of everyone else taking eachother out. Seeming inconspicuous and harmless was a real and extremely useful tactic in Worms.

For a 10-year old me one of the best things about Worms was the possibility to name the team and its member after whatever I liked, and after the fun of curse word names had run out I'd normally end up with a team of worms that I felt a personal connection to. It made it even more fun when one of my worms managed to pull off some neat trick and I could laugh (and secretly sob) at the horrible demise of the same. Because demise there would be - the amount of hilarious, over-the-top, you-couldn't-even-make-this-shit-up deaths that I've experienced in Worms is just another thing that makes the game such an awesome party-game. When your opponent manages to kill your worm it will almost always be in a fun way, fun enough for you not to be angry about it and just long for your turn and sweet revenge (I'LL GET YOU!). Bazooka shot to the face, roll on to one, two, three mines and plop into the water. Or the amount of times someone went to punch another worm, missed and shot straight into their own death (usually water, those poor worms really can't swim).

The only real drawback to Worms is that you really do need other people to play with, the AI quickly gets boring simply because you don't have anyone to share your laughs with (in this sense HoMM3 wins out since it is also fun in single player). But in terms of core concept, execution and gameplay, Worms is one of the best party games there is.


  1. I played this game when it came out on the Amiga. My kids loved it, my girlfriend loved, it, my wife loved it (not at the same time, pervs!), even the people that called in on my BBS loved it!

    Being the social outcast I was (see: previous comment about running a BBS), I had to make do with the AI, but, being not so bright (see also the comment about running a BBS), it was sufficient to keep me playing.

    A similar game, freeware this time (or maybe shareware with no restrictions, can't remember) was a little game called Blazing Tanks. Like Worms, it was a variation on the venerable Artillery game. Unlike Worms, it was a lot less entertaining. But, again, the AI was sufficient to keep me entertained, and it had the virtue of being playable without disrupting my BBS (loooser!), unlike, oh, anything that Team 17 ever did.

    To this day I still tote around a Worms "Fatality!" sound sample in WoW. I think it's hooked up to the Bugsack addon.

    Good times, good times.

    1. Ah yes, the "Fatality!" from Bugsack, I remember that!
      I recall playing other similar games around this time too, a friend of mine had some sort of 100-in-1 console, with mostly shitty games but one was some sort of tank game. Not as fun as Worms for sure, but a good substitute if the computer was taken.
      But Worms is special in that the concept doesn't really grow old and is fun for anyone of any age, just as you say.