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Worms World Party

The franchise Worms is getting a bit like Tetris in that whatever medium of videogame gadgetry you own, it’s more than likely to be available to buy or download. Megadrive, PC, Dreamcast, Playstation, Playstation 2 and now the N-Gage are home to Team 17’s epic creation, which evolves around leading a team of worms onto some wacky landscapes and blowing the **** out of each other. Nothing could be cooler.

I’d already downloaded the demo of Worms World Party the day I bought my N-Gage, and although you were limited to around 4 turns, it was enough to tempt you into buying the game for more insane action. The graphics here are tight- sure it’s only 2-D and the environments are as bright and colourful and clearly detailed like the countless other versions. The worms are brilliantly animated and can be seen making funny faces and gestures to the camera when out of turn, which appeals to persons of any age.

Sound-wise, Worms World Party is an absolute blast. Perhaps the only problem I encountered here was the volume, which ranges from near silent to loud and then onto the level that I refer to as ‘the entire world can hear me.’ But, when sitting on the bus and one of your worms hollers out “a donkey, a donkey, I’ll give my kingdom for a donkey” in a posh English accent, and the entire bus load of people all burst out laughing, you know you’re onto a winner. The voices are much clearer than I would have expected, with far more variety than the Dreamcast version which sounded like children’s high-pitched voices, and music is more “tally-ho” than Kelly’s Heroes.

So the classic look and vibe of Worms is still here, but how does the game play? Bleedin’ marvellous to be honest. The controls are so easy to pick up, with the central 5 key firing weapons, 1 and 2 controlling bounce and fuse time on grenades, 4 to select weapons with 7 and 8 used to jump, the latter being a forward jump. Double tapping 7, the straight jump up button, makes the worm perform an acrobatic back-flip complete with ‘ta-da’ style arms out wide at the end. Lastly, holding number 3 lets you browse the battlefield with the d-pad, so you can find out where everyone is holed up.

Most of the weapons have made it over to the N-Gage, with the exception of my favourite the Holy Grenade. The sheep, air strike, cluster grenade and ninja rope are all here and the phone style interface is almost perfect to deploy the vast array or arsenal at your disposal. I’ve used every single piece of kit in the game and must say that I’ve had no problems what-so-ever in using them, which is the key to Worms games in that the gameplay is so simple to pick up and play. This is evident in the quick game mode, which throws you straight in with a team of 4 worms at the start of a battle. For a short car or bus journey, it’s this mode that you’ll be using most and is the finest example of pick up and play gaming.

There’s also a custom game so you can fiddle about with all manners of wacky rules, options and handicaps, but the real meat of the game is online in the N-Gage Arena, where Worms World Party fans cans battle it out against one another. There’s nothing new in terms of online experiences, the bog standard logging on and finding a room to join is all familiar, but playing against people you’ll never see, on a handset this tiny, is unbelievable. It’s like the poor man’s Xbox Live seeing as you can chat to other players and even store them on a friends list. Where exactly did the N-Gage go wrong?

Perhaps my least-favourite mode, which is by no means a flaw, is the mission section. It kind of reminds me of the sandbox mode in The Sims console versions in that it took away everything that the game was about, and the same is here. Worms is meant to be wired and wacky bomb-blasting, gun-totting comedy slapstick action, instead you have to advance along a side-scrolling landscape completing objectives and trying to stay alive, which goes against everything Worms stands for. It’s a nice ‘side feature’ nonetheless, thank god Team 17 didn’t base the game around it otherwise we could have be looking at another dire N-Gage title.

Last but by no means least, the amount of customising available in Worms World Party is sensational. Players can make their own teams, re-name individual worms, choose accents and assign team-specific weapons, although sadly you can’t choose a headstone. The game options are like this too, where you can edit different ‘profiles’ to limit how much ammo to each weapons there is, what weapons are available plus time limits and sudden death. Saving this makes it selectable in the custom games, meaning you don’t have trawl through the menu’s editing everything when you just want a quick blast.

This is classic Worms action, is everything and has everything it needs to stand out amongst the crowd. Such is the nature with the franchise though, that Worms World Party is a game you should only buy if you already own an N-Gage, and isn’t particularly something you should buy an N-Gage for, unlike titles such as Pathway to Glory, which warrant you to drop everything and run to the nearest videogame store. The reason for this is I find that Worms is one of those games that is fantastic fun in short bursts such as car and bus journeys. And for that, Worms World Party is perfect.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2002.

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