Review: Dunnnn Dunnn DUN DUN
Ahh... the Worms series, how far you have come. From your humbled beginnings on the Amiga in 1995 to 2008's Wii release of Worms: A Space Oddity, the core game has remained largely the same. But this is not particularly a bad
thing. Over its 13 year career, the series maintained an uncanny ability to recycle the same turn-based annelidian action on a backdrop of quirky humor into a well-respected franchise. Only small details have changed over the years. For one thing we are in the age of high-definition or in the case of Nintendo, waggle support. Team17 decided that the Worms series was suited more of the latter, giving Worms: A Space Oddity the Wii treatment. This gives us two things, waggle support (a new meaning to "doing the worm") and naturally, Worms IN SPAAAAACE.
In this episode of the Worms saga, we find our favorite dirt eaters traversing the vastness of space, only to crash land on some random planet. Naturally, the planets inhabitants aren't happy with the wanton destruction and attack your forces. Due to the vastly different control setup than fans may be used to, Team17 created a quick and dirty tutorial on the basics. A smart move. Thankfully, for those anxious or experienced gamers, the tutorial is not required and therefore one could jump straight into the standard single-player story mode or multiplayer if they so chose. The story-mode is short, sweet and with diverse challenges, allowing one to get a firm grasp on all the gameplay basics and weapons before jumping into the multiplayer, but sadly the game offers little replayability beyond that. There are some short mini-games which you can unlock for play at anytime upon beating them in the story. But, most Wii owners have had enough mini-games/party games by now. To top it off, Team17 dropped multiplayer and downloadable content support in favor of more in-depth "in the flesh" segmentation.
Team17 really talked up the waggle support for this title so I feel obligated to cover it a little more. It was splashed a few times over the packaging, front and back, and in all of their press releases. While the in-battle controls are generally intuitive and easy to handle, they often don't make anything easier, but in the case of the Astro Punch, it is a hell of a lot more fun than simply hitting A. My biggest complaint with the waggle support would not be during gameplay at all, but actually in the User Interface. Although not a deal breaker by any means, the menu system was incredibly annoying to me. Everything is pointing-based, not that big of deal. But it became an issue when your method of input is hitting the A button, which causes one to drop the controller a bit lower, therefore moving the cursor down. The active areas of the menus are so small that this small drop will more often than not, cause you to missclick and go no where. It just pissed me off that something so simple distracted me from the game itself.
The UI had numerous issues though, another example is the first time I sat down with the game I played through the first world in its entirety. Upon completion of the stage I backed out of the selection screen and shutdown the Wii, at no point did I see a save option so I assumed it was automatic. It wasn't, I had lost all my progress...Now saving is
automatic, but I still have no idea when it actually occurs. There is no dialog or anything of that nature, I simply back out of the menu until the intro movie plays, then I know it is safe to power down. I even checked the flimsy booklet quickly but didn't see any mention of the saving mechanics. Another annoying task, but at least I don't waste my time, well not as much anyways.
In fairness, most of my issues were not with the game itself, but with technology wrapped around it. Team17 needs to spend more time with their Wii development kit to works out the title's menu kinks and add some saving dialog or a save button. As for the gameplay itself, Worms: A Space Oddity is neither ground-breaking nor a bore. It is simply a Worms title for the Wii; fun to play, best in multiplayer and always a good laugh. Worms fans should feel free to grab it for their turn-based destruction fix, the rest may want to ponder that $49.99 price tag, though.