Worms isn't exactly new. It originally debuted on the Amiga, and was later ported over to various systems such as the PC, Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation. In fact, Worms 2 is already out for the more popular formats. Therefore, gamers with multiple machines might balk at paying over $70 for the Jaguar version when the sequel of the game can be had for half that price. But for those of you who are staunch supporters of the black cat or otherwise wish for Telegames to continue releasing Jaguar games, you can do worse than getting a hold of Worms. At least it's no dud like World Tour Racing....
The game itself is like nothing else you've played. Lemmings is probably the one title that closely resembles Worms, but even that would be a misleading comparison. Worms is essentially a battle between two four-worm squads of heavily armed worms. Players take turns moving a small worm around a randomly generated fully destructible battlefield to kill one or more similarly armed enemy teams by using a nasty weapon set that includes bazookas, shotguns, and fragmentation grenades (my personal favorite). On your turn you move one of your worms, move it around on the screen and/or jump over obstacles with your directional pad, select a weapon or tool, aim, and determine the amount of power you want to put on the shot. You can pick from a ridiculously large number of weapons (each one has its own handling characteristics) which you can then proceed to unleash upon the opposing teams. The general principle is that you push left and right to rotate your gun through various elevations, and then you hold down a fire button to determine the force of your shot. Once in a while airdrop will fall from the sky, and the contents in the package varies from health, new weaponries, bombs, etc.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, if the term "easy to learn, difficult to master" is ever to be applied to a videogame, Worms is the perfect candidate. More than just a mere turn-based shoot 'em up, the game forces players to develop a delicate touch when choosing the best angle and force to fire weapons. The physics model is well-designed such that players will become more adept with their targeting skills the more they practice. Furthermore, there are other things to do besides trying to blow away your opponents. You can teleport to different locations if you are threatened. You can dig tunnels or bungee to safety. You can build girders to protect your worms. And you can "prod" enemy worms into drowning or going off cliffs. As you learn to utilize these complex strategies with each game, you'll begin to pick up many of the subtleties and nuances which make Worms such a blast to play.
Even though Worms isn't going to win any awards for its graphics and sounds, it's quite serviceable. It uses a 2-D playing area and looks a lot like Lemmings. The way the game plays probably prohibits the graphics from being any better. The playfield is colorful with some impressive parallax scrolling, but there are no polygons to be found (who needs 'em?). Some might complain that the sprites and Worms are a bit on the small side, but that's what makes the game so challenging. Like the graphics, the sound is competently done. The music has a military theme that compliments the action nicely. There are some nice sound samples, and some of the voice-overs are hilarious! Like the graphics, the sound is not the most important part of this game. Worms is fun and that's the way all games ought to be.
Drawbacks in Worms are few. First of all, this is a very limited one player game. The CPU opponents get boring very quickly. Just like with most multiplayer games, what makes this game great is the presence of you and your buddies duking it out. As you'd expect the computer can't come close to simulating the human experience and the AI leaves a lot to be desired. Team 17 has basically created such a killer multiplayer game that the single player mode cannot begin to approach it. Playing solo is a great way to hone your skills but probably won't keep your interest for much more than a month. Finally, the Jaguar version of Worms is missing several options that players of the game on other systems have taken for granted. You cannot save the team entries as in the PC and Playstation versions, and the replays are curiously absent. Other minor omissions in Jag Worms include some of the sound samples and rendered clips, and some minor scaling that existed in the original. Given that none of these elements detract from the gameplay at all, they are minor nits to pick.
In conclusion, Worms is a no-brainer. Although I wouldn't quite rank it alongside of Rampart, Warlords, Bomberman or Poy Poy as one of THE best multiplayer games, it's still a blast to play with three other friends. Rarely has a game offered such a fine combination of action, strategy, carnage and humor that takes minutes to learn and months to perfect. The only question remaining is whether you're enough of a hardcore Jaguar fan to plunk down over $70 for a 2 Meg cartridge version of a game that can be had for far less money on other formats. Regardless of what system you get it for, make sure to grab a copy of Worms today!