reviews\ Mar 23, 2008 at 8:00 pm

Worms: A Space Oddity - WII - Review

As a franchise, Worms has had its ups and downs. After a couple attempts to alter formula, developer Team17 has returned Worms to its roots as a 2D strategy title in Worms: A Space Oddity. And while the shift brings back the franchise’s fun and simplicity, it doesn’t do much to enhance or expand the formula.

For those unfamiliar, in Worms you assume command of a team of worms in a quest to destroy an opposing team of worms. Teams alternate time-based turns to reach strategic positions and use all manner of ridiculous weaponry to eliminate the opposing side.

For fans of the series, A Space Oddity provides the Worms franchise as you know it and love it. You have the enjoyable turn-based strategy, the wacky weapons, and the cheesy (but fun) worm voices. And while this may be enough for some Worms fanatics, it doesn’t add anything new to the package. In other words, Worms plays well, but it also plays exactly the same as it did before.

The only noticeable differences are the Wii motion and pointer controls. And while these don’t necessarily enhance how you play the game, they are well implemented and accurate, providing a certain sense of immersion. In fact the only real Wii-specific oversight is the menu, which employs icons far too small for easy pointer use.

Other additions, including story mode and mini-games, are decent additions, but don’t add all that much. Worms is at its best as a multiplayer game. And even though the series has been around for 13 years, it’s still a lot of fun to clash worms with a friend or three. There are even some welcomed, if limited, customization options for creating stages and gameplay modes. Unfortunately, the planned online play was abandoned in development. It is sorely missed.

Much like the rest of the game, the visuals don’t strive to be anything more than the same old-same old. There is really no excuse for a 2D game to not look great in this day and age, but A Space Oddity falls well short of the mark. Compare it to the vibrant colors and sharpness of something like Super Paper Mario and Worms looks outdated. Colors are dull, backgrounds are blurry, and the visual effects are underwhelming at best. Worms may not look terrible, but it should look much, much better.

The sound, on the other hand, fares quite a bit better. The voice acting may be incredibly repetitive, but it is, admittedly, really funny. The game also has some surprisingly decent music.

Worms: A Space Oddity is really a casualty of its own limited vision. The game is an enjoyable incarnation of the franchise, but doesn’t add anything new to the series. It plays and looks almost identical to its previous versions. Perhaps the game could have been recommended at the $20-$30 range, but for a full $50, I want more than a rehash.

Review Scoring Details for Worms: A Space Oddity

Gameplay: 7.0
Worms is still a lot of fun. Then again, it’s basically the same game it was years ago. While the return to 2D certainly restores some of the enjoyment that was lost in the 3D versions, the formula is basically unchanged. A story mode and mini-games don’t add a whole lot to the experience. The motion controls are well done.

Graphics: 5.5 
Worms isn’t horrible looking, but a 2D game should look a lot better. Environments are fairly bland, without much vibrancy or flare.  Especially given the cartoon art direction, it looks particularly underwhelming.

Sound: 7.0
Sure the voices are repetitive, but they are still pretty funny. The music is also pretty good.

Difficulty: Medium
CPU difficulty and strategy is customizable.

Concept: 6.5 
Even though the game still holds up fairly well, it isn’t doing anything new in the gameplay department. The game does deserve credit for using motion controls in an accurate and sensible way. It also has some nice customization options for characters, game modes, and environments. The lack of an online mode, as was promised originally, is regrettable.

Multiplayer: 7.0
Worms has always been best as a multiplayer experience and A Space Oddity is no different. Gather around a few friends and you will have a fun time. Online has not been included, however.

Overall: 6.5
Worms: A Space Oddity is a decent Worms game, but nothing more. The game lacks polish in many areas and doesn’t distinguish itself from previous versions. That said, the game is still fun, especially in multiplayer. But for a full $50, it’s very hard to recommend.

Above Average

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