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Worms iPhone Review

05/10/2009 Specialist Touch Gamer Review
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Worms iPhone




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Cute, smack-talking invertebrates and weapon loaded, turn-based warfare has arrived on the iPhone/Pod in the shape of one of the all-time classics - Worms. Sadly, however, despite having the pedigree of a true champion, in my opinion this port delivers nowhere near the best that either the franchise or the platform has to offer.

In my mind there is a select group of games, most of which I encountered between the ages of 8 and 15, whose status is basically beyond reproach. For various reasons, mostly to do with their quality, but in some cases because of more biographical factors, this select, elite squadron of games represents in my mind the zenith of gaming. Whilst probably being some way off the top, Worms (as you may by now have guessed) is on that list.

Over the fortnight following the day my best friend at the time got Worms for his Amiga 600, I must have spent more time at his house than I did at mine. I began saving immediately and got my hands on the PC port as soon as I could, and between us, my peer group and I played our way through all of the first two generations of Worms games with unbridled relish.

Instead of back-flipping into place, your worm throws himself forwards off the edge of a cliff.

As you can imagine, therefore, I was more than a little interested when I heard that Team 17ís most famous offspring was about to arrive in the App Store. The trouble is, the control scheme that has been grafted onto this latest incarnation of my old friend makes it a real disappointment. Now donít get me wrong, there are no really serious issues, but then, one of the reasons the Worms series is so good is that it relies on such a simple principle and, therefore, it doesnít take much of a problem to throw things off course.

There are questions to be asked about how smoothly Worms runs and about the implementation of the zoom and look around mechanics, but the most serious problems manifest in relation to the movement controls. You touch the bottom of the screen in the direction you wish your worms to creep and hold until theyíre into position.

The trouble is, I find this simple scheme to be almost impractically imprecise. Itís fine if your approach involves minimal movement and/or you happened to have easily accessible opponents all around. Unfortunately, I like to be quite adventurous with my movement and imaginative with my attacks. Why the opportunity to integrate an accurate tilt scheme - something similar to the one in the Toy Bot Diaries series springs to mind - was passed up, I have no idea, but the more generic alternativeís lack of precision contradicts its simplicity.

A more serious frustration, however, is the jump mechanic. Tapping once on your worm of choice is supposed to make it hop forwards in their familiar style, while a double tap performs a backwards leap. The supremely annoying part is the fact that the game only seems to be able to distinguish between the two about two thirds of the time. There is only so many times you can watch as, instead of back-flipping into place, your worm throws himself forwards off the edge of a cliff, before you want to throw your iPod into the sea after it.

The familiar arsenal of creative weaponry is available, replete with the humorous but powerful favourites such as the sheep, the Holy Hand Grenade and the concrete donkey.

The familiar arsenal of creative weaponry is available, replete with the humorous but powerful favourites such as the sheep, the Holy Hand Grenade and the concrete donkey. Alas, when it comes to directing some of the weapons, equally poor controls present themselves. Fine-tuning the exact impact point of a homing missile, for example, is a really fiddly business and one that has most often resulted in my frustratedly deciding, against my natural inclinations, to settle for a less-than-ideal result.

Other peculiarities, such as some curious impact mechanics which prevent, for example, Dragon Punching one worm into another, and over-awkward controls for the ninja rope and jetpack, lurk in the recesses and just add to an overall sense of an unpolished port. The curious decision not to include an online mode (let alone a Bluetooth multiplayer option for 3.0 and above), but only to promise that such modes will come down with future updates, feels like further evidence this game might have been somewhat rushed to release.

If youíre new to Worms then you might well find the eccentricities of the controls perfectly manageable, but Iím afraid I bring too much experience of previous versions with me to this release to settle quietly for something that just doesnít deliver the experience that I know Worms can offer. Should, must, do better.

Written by Nathan Morgan

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Nathan Morgan writes the Touch Gamer column.

"I review a mixture of established iPhone titles and new releases from across various genres. My reviews place particular emphasis on how each game makes use of the unique potential that the interface of the iPod Touch offers."

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