|Publisher: Feral Interactive Genre: Arcade|
|Min OS X: Any Version CPU: G3 @ 233 MHz RAM: 64 MB Hard Disk: 300 MB|
The Worms franchise first appeared on the Mac in its initial form as a side-scrolling action/strategy game in which worms attempt to destroy other worms with military (and other) hardware, usually explosive in nature. Widely avaiable on other platforms since its initial release in 1995, the Worms series has been mostly absent from the Mac until this latest title, Worms Blast, originally published by Team 17 and brought to the Mac by MacPlay. Worms Blast combines two powerful gaming addictions - the cult appeal of annelids with heavy ordnance and the more universal drive to play with colored blocks.
GameplayOnce again, the Worms franchise commits some serious genre-bending. Worms Blast looks like a puzzle game and is structured like a puzzle game, but its emphasis is clearly still on the heavy artillery so it carries with it some serious shoot-'em-up and action elements. The basic premise is that your character, who could be a worm or another member of the animal kingdom chosen for their hardiness and proficiency with firearms (never let it be said that Team 17 are species snobs) such as sheep, skunks, roosters and frogs, race to complete various goals as outlined by the nature of the challenge by blasting at blocks or targets with any number of firearms or other explosives. This might sound simple enough, but the characters are all doing this on the open water, with a rising and dropping tide on a number of different types of watercraft. Consider that canoes don't have hand brakes or a reliable turning radius, and things get a lot harder.
The game has several modes available. One is the puzzle mode, where you guide your character along various paths of a single-screen maps, completing challenges (which are usually variations on the tournament challenges) along the way in order to advance (this is also where additional characters are unlocked). Tournament mode has a number of discrete single-screen single-round time or survival challenges available, and these results are what makes up the game's high scores. There are some tournament modes and puzzle screens that involve fast and accurate shooting exclusively; and this is a far cry from the usually somewhat relaxing and progressively more difficult play of classic puzzle games. The puzzle mode of Worms Blast itself is phenomenally difficult. The first few screens are a gift but very quickly it's clear that the puzzles are set up so one false move will cost you the match, and there is no way to adjust the difficulty setting so this situation can't be helped. There are also two-player challenges which are more relaxed than those available in the puzzle and tournament modes, which can be played versus the CPU or another player.
The AI in Worms Blast can only be described by one word: bipolar. In some modes the CPU will quite cheerfully crush you like a bug by unrepentantly hucking bazooka shells at your hapless player until very, very dead at every opportunity; and in other modes the CPU will amble about its business ineffectively while periodically hucking bazooka shells at your player and very occasionally exhibiting signs of profound, aching frustration. Watching the CPU-controlled player throw a hissy fit is somewhat entertaining, but it doesn't make for a heck of a lot of fun. The good news about Worms Blast is that the player versus player matches are where the game delivers. The types of challenges range from the painfully strategic (such as Don't Drop 'Em, in which each player can drop no more than one block into the water during the round) to the shut-up-and-smoke-'im-already (aka Deathmatch). With an emotionally stable opponent the game's appeal started to become obvious: systematically blowing stuff up is actually quite fun. So is hucking bazooka shells at others.