Well then, Worms is back. Back again.
I feel like with every single Switch review I’ve done this year I’ve started and ended it the same way. Namely, ‘this is a franchise that’s found its home on the Switch’. It’s true for a variety of different games that feel very natural when you have the ability to take them anywhere you like. Games such as Mantis Burn Racing, Rocket League and puzzlers like Binaries have that magic that in portable mode, they belong.
Is Worms W.M.D. one of those games? Yes, yes it is.
I haven’t played Worms for a long time. I tend to think back to a different time way back on the Nintendo 64 where I played a hefty amount of Worms Armageddon after Dad hid my copy of GoldenEye because apparently I ‘played it too much’. I remember falling for the charms of Worms pretty quickly, for me it was a classic example of ‘easy to pick up, difficult to master’ and it still rings true today. Last year Worms W.M.D. landed on PS4, Xbox One and PC and for whatever reason it completely passed me by, so I was excited when the Switch version arrived, to land once again back into the world of Worms and pull it out on the train during commutes to see if Worms is still a mainstay of the industry, 22(!) years after its initial release.
What do you need to know about Worms? Well, if you’re jumping in for the first time ever with W.M.D.. Essentially you play a band of Worms and your objective is to explodey the other team on the other side of the 2D map. There are four Worms per team, and each battle is turn-based. W.M.D. introduces vehicular warfare, along with emplacements for weaponry, the former can be hilarious, the latter is handy – they can lock into your worms abilities and as such, create unique weaponry but offer zero protection to your worm buddies.
With the primary new addition being vehicles, it’s interested to note that the core gameplay hasn’t really changed all that much. You would think that it would make battles particularly uneven and yet it feels very natural being included, and surprised me they haven’t been there all along.
Being able to craft weaponry is a welcome touch to the game and means you’re pretty much always going to have a weapon by your side that can do some real damage. Being able to dismantle items can give you materials which you can use to make new weapons, or upgraded versions of what you already have. You have to give up a turn to craft them, mind.
These features work across single player and multiplayer, with a little campaign to power through with some odd-job ‘sidequests’ through the challenge stages which can be found through discovering posters with wanted worms placed centre stage. There’s also a comprehensive training stage which is handy for beginners.
One thing about Worms that hasn’t changed is the terrific visual style, which seems unique to the series and hasn’t really changed all that much over the years. Naturally, a shiny spit and polish for the new systems has done the series a world of good but the basic aesthetic remains the same, colourful 2D warfare is the order of the day here and it pops beautifully on the Switch screen, especially if you have your brightness pushed all the way up. Visually I didn’t notice any framerate drops of performance issues, nothing that’s worth knocking the game down for anyway. There are some loading time issues that absolutely need a look at in a future patch, there are issues that’ll make you concerned the game isn’t ever going to load until it finally kicks in. Worms is not particularly visually intensive, and you have to imagine it’s not working the Switch particularly hard. Still, once the game finally returns it can runs like clockwork, you just have to wait an age for the hands to move.
I’ve tried to avoid complaining too much about loading times in videogames as it’s just part and parcel with the experience it would seem nowadays, but a cartridge based system there’s no reason to me why they should be taking this long. Still, you can’t really argue when the experience of Worms is as solid as it’s ever been. The single player is fun if not hugely varied, though Worms shines in multiplayer and it’s no different here. I’ve had a bunch of fun playing this with friends this week, all of us trying to prove we can out-do each other because we were Worms masters back in the day.
It brings back that feeling of huddling round an N64 (or my mates PlayStations) and blasting each other to bits just for the hell of it, and that’s what the game does so well. Worms has a special advantage over a few games that are still trying to cling on to the bygone era (hi there Bubsy), for me and my friends to still be able to jump back in and play a few matches like nothing has changed speaks volumes on just how good Worms has been over the years and how important it is to the education of many an adult gamer growing up.
There’s little else on the Switch that can match the chaos that Worms W.M.D. creates, making this new edition a game worth picking up as soon as possible.
Worms W.M.D. is available now for Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One and PC
Developer/Publisher: Team 17
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review we were provided with a review code from the publisher.