Review by clarkisdark

"Blasted fun! Blasted game..."

Worms has had a strong following in its quirky turn-based world. But Team 17 hasn't been content to leave the Worms franchise at that. Their last attempt to deviate from the formula resulted in Worms Pinball. Now, they're at it again with Worms Blast, a puzzle game in the league of Bust-A-Move.

The console version of this game tried to incorporate 3D graphics, and it looked really bad. For PC users, rest assure that Worms Blast retains the same look as the other Worms games we grew up on: strictly 2D. The visuals are rather clean and clear, too. Because this is a puzzle game relying on the distinction of color, though, you'll sometimes have a hard time deciphering yellow from orange. But load times are quick. Framerate appears constant, except on some slower computers, the fog powerup will kill it.

Great sound effects. Voices are cute, and some like Calvin the sheep are quite enjoyable. Others are barely audible and easily forgettable. In fact, each character has a limited amount of lines that they say over and over, and this can get annoying. Luckily, there's an option to tone down the voices, to change them from many to few. I'm glad that option exists. Also, the music is excellent. There are about four different tunes that play randomly with each level. The songs have four different parts to them, which you'll hear change as the level becomes more and more intense. Very nice.

Think Bust-A-Move. But now you're not just pointing and shooting. You have to take into consideration the power and horizontal position of your shot (sound familiar to you Worms buffs?). In other words, you can move side to side and lob shots. The objective is to clear the screen by firing like colors at groups of balls. You start with a default bazooka, but can collect other weapons to help you (or hinder the enemy). Depending on where you are in the game, you'll face different challenges. In the single-player puzzle mode, the majority of levels just have you clear the screen within the allowed time. Sometimes you have to do this with a limited amount of ammo, not being able to let excess balls fall into the water, or not hitting a certain color at all. Others are more like a shooting range, or a "guess what color is next" game. The amount of puzzles is refreshing, and they get increasingly harder as you progress. There is also a nice battle mode consisting of many sub-modes, but the most basic just has you trying to survive longer than your opponent. Here's the catch: you can not only use devastating weapons on them, but also fire your bazooka into their area to screw up their puzzle. It actually works really well, since you have to balance several things and not just concentrate strictly on what you are doing. While the actual puzzles may take some head-scratching and hit-and-miss routines, the battle mode is just pure, intense fun.

This is the part where I start complaining. Aiming and shooting are easy and responsive. Okay, no problem. But moving is not. I guess in order to create the illusion of "water drag," they made your character difficult to gain momentum, thus creating chaos whenever you try to hurry and move out of the way of a projectile. Heh. There is no hurrying in this game. And it's this awful sideways control that really throws the game. Even the faster characters have a hard time with this. I also have a problem with how the weapon system is set up. All weapons and items you collect are put into a stack, meaning the last one in is the first one out. You can't cycle through them.

Player movement is frustrating because, as noted above, by the time you realize you need to move out of the way, it's too late. Some of the later puzzles can be quite a headache, also, demanding what seems like an impossible feat. It is possible, but sometimes you'll play the same puzzle over twenty times before beating it.

Lasting Appeal:
The one-player puzzle mode can be beat in a weekend, granted you don't get so frustrated you break the game. Of course, beating this opens up new characters, one of which is the super-cool Superfrog. There are some mini-games left afterwards to try and beat your high score on, but they're really not that exciting. What saves Worms Blast is the two-player support. Matches can be quite long and vigorous. The added Worms carnage makes this a treat, and a far better two-player outing than previous puzzle efforts.

This isn't Worms like we know it. In fact, the Worms appeal doesn't have a whole lot to do with this game. It's just a puzzler with guns. But I enjoy a good puzzle game, and while I have to admit that I've played better, I was happy with my purchase. The single-player mode won't carry the game far, but playing with a friend is -- and I hate to say this -- a blast. Worms Blast was a game that went straight to the bargain bin. This is probably where it belongs, but as a bargain bin game, it's actually worth the money. Don't make the mistake of assuming the PC version translates over well into the console versions, though, because it doesn't.

+ Familiar puzzle action
+ With added carnage
+ Intense 2-player mode
-- Short-lived 1-player
-- Sluggish, unresponsive movement

Score: 7/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 04/20/04, Updated 11/07/04

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