From the obscurity of Sure Shot to one of the best known franchises in existence. Sure, the Worms games have run their course and then some by now. The dead horse has been flogged so venomously and repeatedly that it’s now just a horrific meaty/boney mess. But they’ve been fantastically popular, which is an achievement indeed for such a lunatic concept.
It all starts reasonably enough. We’re presented with a turn-based strategy game. You have a chance to move a member of your team around the map. Selecting the appropriate weapon from your arsenal, you point your death-stick at the delicate squishy bits of a member of the opposing squad. You then hope that the target in question is sufficiently murderized that they’re in no condition to pay you back in kind. So far, so logical. At one point in the development process, though, someone appears to have voiced the suggestion, “Let’s make the squads out of worms.”
You may expect the reply to have been, “What are you talking about, you big bloody fool? Worms indeed. Consider yourself fired.”
But not so. Instead of shuffling pitifully out of the office, cardboard box in hand, he stayed.
It’s now thanks to this utterly fabricated scenario/completely imaginary dude that we’ve enjoyed a couple of decades of wormy goodness (A good few years too many, in my opinion, but they used to be enjoyable).
My issue with the whole idea is, why worms? If you must insist on engaging in animal-based warfare, surely there are better candidates? I’m fairly confident that monkeys could be trained to operate simple firearms, throw sticks of dynamite and suchlike. They might be flummoxed by the more complex manoeuvres the game demands, I’ll admit. Aiming the bazooka long-distance may prove problematic for our hairy cousins, for instance (but hell, when playing I’m hopeless at that myself, so who am I to judge?).
Just for logic’s sake, though, any member of the animal kingdom with limbs of its own would be a step up.
It’s not a major bugbear, as it all serves to enhance the wackiness and slapstick humour of Worms. Any title that arms you with the high-explosive Super Sheep and Old Woman is clearly far, far beyond the reach of petty reality. The games have outstayed their welcome now, like the friend who drinks all your beer then passes out on the sofa for a day or two. Probably awakening from his alcoholic death-stupor only to vomit in your bathroom (I’m getting a little uncomfortable with the familiarity of this analogy now, so I’ll leave it there. My point, I think, has been made). This only served to thrust the oddness of the idea into popular culture, where it’s now been accepted. Hints of the question remain though, hanging in the air like a musty smell (of beer-vom perhaps): why are they worms?
I’m still waiting for the announcement of that monkey-fighting game. You know that would sell like a bastard.
For those who like their insanity worm-flavoured, here’s a trailer from the days when the games weren’t balls:
Article by Chris Littlechild