Some games enjoy a special place in your heart for more than just being good games. There’s no doubt that, as far as I’m concerned, Worms is an excellent game. I personally think it has aged very well, and it’s still a lot of fun to play. However, what makes Worms stick in my memories perhaps more than other games of the same time period is that it was one of the very first games I played on the PC and actually enjoyed.
I honestly think younger people are going to guffaw when I type this, but back in the mid ’90s we had a PC with Windows 95 that had, wait for it, 8MB of RAM. Yes, 8 WHOLE MB! That was bang average around that time, and pretty worthless for gaming. I remember we eventually upgraded it to 16MB, a COLOSSAL upgrade, I think you’ll all agree, and I could finally actually start playing games on it. Actua Soccer was the first, but that was a painfully average game aside from Barry Davies’ epic commentary, but eventually my dad acquired a disc with Worms in it and my eyes were opened.
Worms was a game you had to boot up through MS DOS (you might want to Google that one, kids) and I loved it instantly. You control a team of four worms as they do battle with up to three other teams over a randomly generated battle arena. You have bazookas, uzis, and shotguns at your disposal in order to inflict worm shattering pain, but there are also a collection of much more unique and enjoyable weapons that you can use.
For example, there is the “Dragon Punch”, which causes your selected worm to put on a suspiciously familiar red bandana and smash your hapless opponent upside the head with a vicious upper cut. There is the famed “Banana Bomb” which is a grenade that releases scores of exploding bananas that annihilate not just opposing worms but also half the stage. And then there is the pièce de résistance, the king of all weapons, and one of the genuinely most hilarious things I’ve ever seen in a video game known only as “The Exploding Sheep”, which does EXACTLY what it says on the tin!
As those who have been keen readers of my content for a while will already know, I’m not a particularly big fan of turn-based combat. As a general rule, I prefer games that do away with it as I find it a frustrating and staggered way of playing a game. Worms is one of the few exceptions where I’ve actually enjoyed the genre. It was also the first case of me playing a PC game that actually performed as it should have. Having such an underpowered PC meant that the medium was just something that there was no point getting more involved with back in the day. However, Worms worked just fine and was also a fun gaming experience to boot. Had I not had that positive experience with it, I probably would have sworn off gaming on PCs entirely due to previous bad experiences. I still remember the horrific Christmas Day of 1996 where I desperately tried to get my new copy of Euro 96 to work. However, Worms was the first occasion I can think of where I put the disc in the PC and it booted up as it should have done and played as it should have played.
These days, the only reason I don’t PC game is because I don’t have the money or space in my house to accommodate it. I do pretty much everything computer related, including writing this very article, on my Samsung RV511 Laptop, which is great for word processing and watching videos on YouTube but not especially useful for playing games outside of third and fourth generation emulators (Boo, bad Mike!). It does, however, have the benefit of being cheaper than a gaming PC while also being small enough that I can easily stick it behind a sofa or under a bed so it’s not in the way.
So, Worms played a very important role in giving me a fondness for the PC gaming medium while also being one of my favourite games of the fifth generation. I eventually ended up getting it for the PlayStation and it was still a lot of fun. It also included a number of very funny and well shot cut scenes that would play before a match started. I still believe the PC version to be superior, if only because there was an option to change the voices of the worms, and I think it works better with a mouse. There were also later versions on the PC that included the cut scenes. The version I played allowed you to change the game to have Simpsons quotes in place of the usual worm banter, which was frankly hilarious. Killing seven worms with an air strike and hearing Sideshow Bob quip that “Even murder has its ugly side” was a fine way to spend a cold winter’s evening.
One criticism I would have for the game is that some of the weaponry, such as the aforementioned air strikes, were ridiculously overpowered. You could always tinker with the menus, at least, in order to limit the usage of certain weapon types. Aid packs will fall from the sky during the battle, which contain the rarer weapons, but you start out with the bazooka and a couple of grenades as standard. When playing with friends on the PlayStation, we’d often have a gentlemen’s agreement that no one would use an air strike with their first go, especially if the stage had a bridge because that would normally mean six dead worms straight out of the block. This agreement would normally take all of five seconds to be broken by someone, and I’m sure I was guilty of doing such a thing once or twice.
I would strongly recommend giving Worms a go if you’ve never played it. It’s funny, has tight gameplay, and is lots of fun when you play with friends. You might struggle getting a version of the original PC edition of the game, but bids for a copy of the PlayStation version on eBay start at 99 pence, so you can probably acquire it for a mere bargain, should you so desire.
As always, I’ll post some footage of the game below.
Thanks for reading
Nil Satis, Nisi Optimum
You can take a look at YouTube footage of the game courtesy of Squakenet by clicking right HERE
Looking for other great content here on the site? Well, why not take a goosey gander at the following?
Kane takes a look at his favourite gaming MEMEs and you can read all about them right HERE
Fellow Retro Writer Steve takes a look at Sam’s Journey right HERE
And Will takes a look at Code of Princess right HERE