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GameCube Review - 'Worms Blast'

by The Cookie Snatcher on Feb. 21, 2003 @ 12:18 a.m. PST

The aim of the game is to survive, either longer than your opponent or until one player has reached a set objective. Worms Blast gives us our fifth trip to the Worms universe. You control a team of worms, you square off against opposing worm team(s) - either AI or human-controlled - in a kill-them-before-they-kill-you fight . As always in the series, Worms Blast tests the players thinking, skill, reflexes, forward planning and nerve. Read more for the final verdict!

Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Ubi Soft
Developer: Team 17
Release Date: 10/24/2002

Developer Team 17 gained mass notoriety when they released the original Worms game almost 10 years ago, and since then they have consistently churned out many titles based around the original foundation that made the franchise so popular: two players slugging it out in destructible terrain with a multitude of weapons and devices at their disposal. Basically Worms was a logical evolution from the age-old PC game Scorched Earth, its straightforward nature was easy to pick up while leaving plenty of room for creative strategy. So it comes as no surprise that the popular Worms franchise is branching out in new directions, first with a pinball game and now with this strategy oriented puzzle game. Though fans of the traditional Worms games may be somewhat disappointed with the comparably limited game play found in Worms Blast.

While Worms Blast borrows heavily from the standard Worms games in terms of graphics style and personality, the game play has changed to a more puzzle-type experience along the lines of Super Bust-A-Move. You’ll begin the game choosing from one of the off-the-wall Worms characters, that character will then be placed into a floating rowboat; your new method of movement. The screen is then littered with various colored orbs and your goal is to destroy them all with like-colored ammo. Getting the hang of maneuvering around in the water on your rowboat takes some getting used to since waves will often fluctuate around you make precision aiming difficult, whenever you fire a misplaced shot and your missile returns into the water you must be sure to be out of the way or your health will go down, obviously, once your health is depleted it’s game over.

The main single-player mode of the game includes over 60 different puzzles, and the developers really did a great job of mixing things up by diversifying the puzzle layout from stage to stage and introducing new objectives on top of the normal destroy-the-orbs-before-you-die method of progression. You’ll need to dodge falling orbs, collect falling items that lower the water level (giving you more headroom and time to complete the level), some stages require that you hit specific hard-to-reach targets within a set amount of time, and other like-minded puzzles make every stage something of a new experience. Luckily you’ll have the use of lots of weapons like dynamite, laser beams, rifles, grenade launchers, and more, just as you did in the standard Worms games, that will help you to successfully complete these multifaceted stages. Each weapon has its own unique function. For instance, the laser beam can be ricocheted off walls to reach normally out-of-reach areas. The mix of interesting levels, objectives, and weapons helps to keep things feeling interesting but the awkward controls do take some getting used to and may be too much for those looking for a similar game play layout as that found in the past Worms games.

While the single player experience is quite rewarding and entertaining, if only for a few hours, the competitive two-player experience is where it’s at in Worms Blast. There is no support for four-player action unfortunately, but the two-player modes include eight unique styles ranging from standard deathmatch and competitive item collection to more Worms-style play where you and your opponent lob dangerous weapons at each other with catapults over a dividing wall.

Fans of the Worms franchise may be disappointed to discover that the comical yet visceral feel of the past Worms games are slightly diminished due to the fact that the action is more puzzle oriented and the game play occasionally unwieldy. The inclusion of various weapons and objectives may serve to spice things up a bit but they also forfeit any straight-on appeal that games like Super Bust-A-Move bring to the table. And while the single player experience may be loaded with unique challenges it pales in comparison to the two-player VS modes. So unless you’re planning on playing with a friend you may want to think twice before buying Worms Blast.

Visually, Worms Blast looks remarkably similar to that of recent Worms games in that the backgrounds are very colorful and cartoon-oriented while the worm you controls is capable of a multitude of humorous animations and spunky quips. If anything Worms Blast may look a little better than its predecessors thanks to the subtle cel-shading that is utilized here and there that effectively enhances the game’s visual appeal. Not much can be said about the game’s focal point of multi-colored orbs however, which coincidentally take center stage in the game’s graphics presentation, but that can’t be helped in a puzzle game of this nature. The water looks great and the way it reacts to fallen ammo or your boat as you paddle hither and thither is actually quite impressive, the physics in this regard are one of the things that makes Worms Blast such a treat to look at. Also, those with television sets capable of progressive scan will be glad to know that Worms Blast fully supports this function.

The aural arrangement in this game is perfectly suited to its cartoony motif with lighthearted orchestrations to accompany the on-screen action. But it is the sound effects that really make their mark in this game, everything from the sound of the various weapon emissions to the character’s various wisecracks are entirely trademark Worms style.

Overall, if you are looking for a decent puzzle game on the GameCube then Worms Blast is certainly worth checking out. The obvious lack of puzzle games on the platform make this game even more attractive. Though when you consider that the foundational game play is fraught with unresponsive controls and the single-player experience just isn’t that fun, you’re left with a game that is practically only worth playing when it’s in the two-player mode. To sum things up; if you are a puzzle fan then rent before you buy.

Score: 7.2/10

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