Worms Blast Review

Worms Blast is a puzzle game that shares some similarities with other puzzle games, most notably Super Bust-A-Move, but it has enough originality and challenge to make it appealing to fans of the genre.  The game features several modes of play: single player puzzle and tournament modes, and two player competitions versus the CPU or another human.  All of the modes feature the same basic play mechanics - you control a worm, or one of a few other creatures, in a small boat that floats on a bed of water across the bottom of the screen.  Your other piece of equipment is a bazooka that fires paint-filled shells into the air at blocks that hang above the water.  If the shell hits a block of the same color, the block falls .  If it hits one of a different color, it changes the block's color to that of the shell.  To make things a little more challenging, the falling blocks can cause ripples in the water which makes aiming a little tougher.  They can also hit your character, injuring him or her.  Take too many hits and you'll lose the level.  To further discourage you from picking a sweet spot and sticking with it, safes, anvils, and other cartoon inspired character-flattening objects periodically drop down from the top of the screen.

In the puzzle mode, you select a character and are taken to a map of a group of islands.  Each character is supposed to handle differently, but in reality there is not much noticeable difference between them other than their sound bites.  Various locations and the possible paths between them are marked on the map.  To move from one location to another, you must clear a series of puzzles.  Doing so opens the path, moves you to the new location, and makes new paths reachable.  The map does not have an effect on gameplay, and it does not really matter which order you make your way around the map.  The puzzles' colorful background pictures do change to reflect each island's theme - desert, jungle, etc. - but that's about it.

The puzzles present a variety of objectives.  Some put limits on your time or number of shots that you are allowed to take.  Others require you to avoid hitting certain block colors or add moving targets.  While the puzzle design is a bit uneven with some definitely better than others, the common thread among all the puzzles is that they are truly puzzle-based, i.e. each puzzle has its own pattern or solution.  Once you've figured out a puzzle's solution, the challenge is in aligning your bazooka to make the necessary shots.  As such, there's not a lot of replay value in the puzzle mode once you've completed all of the puzzles.  However, with 60 or so puzzles this mode will keep you occupied for a while.

Tournament mode is a not a tournament as the name implies.  In tournament mode you select a puzzle from a set of eight, and try to get the high score for the puzzle.  The problem with this mode is that the game's control is not tight enough to allow you to continually improve your scores.  You'll hit an upper limit before too long and trying to score even higher will only lead to frustration.

The game's head to head mode is a fast-paced and fun diversion.  You play against another player or the computer on a screen split down the middle, and race to clear the blocks which slowly make their way down the screen.  To make things more challenging, the partition between the players occasionally opens allowing you to lob paint shells through to the other side.  You can hit the other player's blocks and change their colors, or hit the other player's boat to screw up his or her shot.  There are also bonus items hidden among the blocks.  If you free one of these and catch it before it sinks below the waves, you can unleash it on your competition.  These bonus items include floating mines and piranha schools.  Play continues until one player is crushed by the encroaching blocks or takes enough damage to lose all of his or her lives.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 74%.  Overall, the game has its fun and addicting moments, although it is hampered by uneven level design, loose control, and a confusing menu scheme.  Players who enjoy games like Super Bust-A-Move will enjoy this one, but those who prefer puzzles that reward thought without relying on reflexes as well might find it a bit frustrating.

System Requirements:  Pentium III 450;  64 MB RAM;  8 MB Video RAM; 8x CD-ROM;  110MB Hard Drive Space;  Mouse.


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