It’s been many years since Total Wormage lost out in a programming competition in Amiga Format.
Andy Davidson’s original game peaked Team 17’s interest at the old European Computer Trade Show (formerly the PC Show), and they signed the game up for development for Andy’s favourite machine. The original Worms debuted on the Amiga in 1995, and then got ported to every viable machine on the planet.
Andy’s direct sequel was Worms: Director’s Cut, which was an AGA only release (for the Amiga 1200, 4000 and variants thereof) which was also supposed to arrive on the CD32 but poor sales destroyed that chance with the CD32 enhancements being made available on an Amiga Format CD-ROM later on. Director’s Cut has always been the definitive version of the game, for me, as the PC sequel, predictably called Worms 2, started the kiddfying of the franchise, losing the darker tones and elements from the Amiga originals, along with some of it’s charm.
As a result every Worms game since Director’s Cut has seemed a little devoid of soul, to the point where I have barely noticed the last decade’s worth of releases. In fact that break and lack of exposure to the release of Worms Revolution on the Xbox 360 and PS3 perhaps gives me a fresh outlook to the conversion to the Vita, as fortunately, it isn’t just a straight port.
The game includes quite a bit of content with 47 standard and a further 25 puzzle missions, which is, apparently everything from the PS3 version plus it’s DLC packs (hence the “Extreme” tag) following the increasing trend forming of PS3 games being ported to the Vita with all the DLC once it’s all done. The weapon selection has grown an awful lot, and with this latest iteration flowing water has arrived which can be used as an obstacle as well as produced by new water weaponry. Other objects can be moved in the level (using the telekinesis “weapon”) as well as blown to smithereens to open up pathways.
The missions are spread over several themes – Sewer, Farmyard, Spooky and Beach form the initial game with the DLC packs giving the Mars, Funfair and Medievil missions. There is online multiplayer, as you may expect, local multiplayer (using ad-hoc network) is missing, so hopefully that is but an update away. Having said that there is the “other” local multiplayer option of passing the machine around using the deathmatch, forts or classic game styles in versus mode, which, of course, suits a handheld down to the ground, and makes me wonder if pass the machine multiplayer turn based strategy games like Civilization might be viable with the umph of the Vita, but I digress.
Matt Berry (IT Crowd) is on hand to lend a voice to wormographer Don Keystone and is, of course, instantly recognisable, lending a little more comedy to the game, though the repeated commentary can soon get tiresome.
The customisation options are routed back directly to Worms Director’s Cut where a separate Worms Prefs program on Workbench allowed you to change names, change voices, and so on. This, the first Vita Worms game, offers the ability to change the names of your worms, set up formations, add accessories (such as a ‘tache), trinkets, gravestone design, your worms victory dance, what their fort will look like, and even the sound bank of vocal exclamations from “classic” (which isn’t what I remember from the miggy games) to things like drill instructor, movie trailer or society girl! It’s a shame the old graffiti mode isn’t present as that would have been a laugh with the touch screen allowing you to (finger) paint your own level layouts – a missed opportunity.
Fortunately if you do have Worms Revolution on the PS3 cross save is supported so you can play both at home and on the move with the same save file (and in case it’s not been clear in the past you don’t need PS Plus for it… though you really ought to have PS Plus you know!) There is also a treasure hunt/treasure chest feature to link to the PS3 version to allow the unlocking of extras, but I have not had the ability to check that out.
The game mechanic is instantly familiar (move worms, get weapons, use weapons to kill other teams of worms) and as noted above remains turn based in the main, though this is masked somewhat in the missions themselves. The addition of touch screen controls does make controls a little more intuitive (front screen touch to activate things and scroll map, rear to use reticules for weaponry, although the rear control is deactivated as default.) Fortunately the touch controls do not hinder the traditional button controls, so theoretically the game should be fully functional on the UK version of the PS Vita TV when it arrives (I’m looking at you SCEE!)
The presentation of the game is up to the standards you would expect but with the development path starting with Worms 2 (1997) to reach this release it’s unsurprising that the worms are this bubbly bouncy kiddy almost super-deformed cartoon variation of their darker annelid predecessors on the 1995 original and the 1997 Director’s Cut. Similarly the music is rather generic as opposed to the quirksome Bjørn Lynne original soundtrack and frankly this homogenisation is guilty of feeling a bit charmless compared with the early titles, and even with the vocal talent some of the Britishness seems to have seeped away from the humour, making it allegedly more pallet-able for other markets, but in essence removing part of it’s hook.
However when you drill, or blow torch down to it, it is worms, and the classic worms gameplay is there in spades, even if the sprawlling weapons menu seems to slow you down as you desperately try to find what you are after. It is an awful lot of fun, and I do mean a lot as there is a chunk to get through in this extended edition of Worms Revolution, and it maintains it’s longevity through online multiplayer and local pass-the-Vita play. If you have never played Worms before, or you were exposed to it the noughties, you should absolutely adore it. It really does suit this platform in a lot of ways, but I can’t help thinking that looking at the use of the camera and creative interactions of say, Little Big Planet, that perhaps a future Worms Vita game should allow play in the real world a la Reality Fighters. Alternatively a future game could allow the building of levels on top of photos, downloaded pictures or even video footage (something you could do with Worms on the CD32 if you had an FMV module, with the Video CD footage replacing the background colour on-screen) and maybe even create functional widgets and moveable on screen objects.
To be honest when I first saw the price point it sounded a little high at £11.99, but once you get a look at the amount of stuff in here and the customisation options it does seem decent value for money (and frankly a physical copy at £19.99 would be fair play, if a waste of the storage space of a Vita card – but this is Team 17 Digital now.). I do feel however that a re-positioning at the more magical £9.99 may well result in a jump in sales an order of magnitude high enough to more than offset the £2 margin loss?
I have to highly recommend the game, it’s just I long for a Director’s Cut retro mode/re-skin a la Alien Breed!
At A Glance
- Title: Worms Revolution Extreme
- Publisher: Team 17 Digital
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: Yes
- Local Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 418Mb
- PS Vita TV compatibility: yes (unconfirmed – touch controls not required for gameplay)