In what is rather a surprise move the Worms first outing on the Playstation 2 is a rather different experience from their famous turn based strategy games, on which their reputation has been built. Worms Blast is a Bust-A-Move, Puzzle Bobble type game that whilst it can be played as a single player game is truly meant to be a multiplayer experience.
Of course it may be a puzzle game but there are enough Worms elements in here to sufficiently give the game a Worms flavour. Power-ups, wacky weapons and bizarre characters all ensure that Worms fans will not feel completely out of sorts. Just to break you in and get you used to the new genre for the Worms has a very helpful, and fully subtitled, tutorial that gives you all the gameplay help that you need to stay afloat.
Worms Blast differs from other puzzle games such as Puzzle Bobble in that it allows you to move about. Your character is always in a boat and has to row back and forth on the water as well as aiming at the overhead blocks. This adds a different perspective to the gameplay in that it adds a more frantic edge. You can also collect crates that contain all manner of goodies such as high power weapons. Stars can also be collected. Stars do different things depending on what type of game you are playing.
Basically the gameplay consists of your character rowing about on the water and firing their weapons at the blocks, and occasionally other targets. Firing and aiming the weapons is done in true Worms style. The longer you hold the fire button down the greater the power of the shot. Just as in the Worms games it's all about getting the power and trajectory of the shot just right. To destroy the blocks you must hit them with colour matching ammo. Your Bazooka, which is the default weapon, fires different colour ammo. The colour of the aiming crosshair changes to show you what colour the next ammo is. If you fire red ammo at the red blocks, for example, it will wipe them out. However if you fire the wrong colour ammo at the blocks then the ammo will simply splat and change the colour of the blocks which they hit. In some level there are anchor blocks, blocks which support other blocks, if these block are hit then all the supporting blocks will fall.
The game consists of various games for both the single player and multiplayer. The game offers Puzzle, Tournament, 1 player against the CPU, and 2 players against each other. In Puzzle mode you are given a multitude of tasks to complete. These range from collecting 15 stars in one minutes to removing the blocks onscreen within a small amount of time. Tournament mode offers five different games. These games range from Target Alley, in which you have to hit the descending targets, to One Line in which you begin with only a few seconds and have to destroy the descending lines of blocks. For each line of blocks you destroy 2 seconds of time are given to you. Super Frogging, Shooting Gallery and Team 17 Fun complete the line up. There are hidden characters that can be unlocked in the single player modes and these can then be used in the multiplayer games.
However where the game really shines is in it's multiplayer games. The modes on offer are Deathmatch, Star Collection and Time Trial (when playing against human oppositions you can also play Don't Drop 'em). Against the CPU or human opposition Worms Blast becomes a frantic, intense and an extremely enjoyable affair. As well as having to wipe out the blocks as well as other objectives, you collect stars in the case of Star Collection, you also get to fire at your opponent as the dividing bar occasionally opens to allow you to do so. This gives the game a competitive edge over other puzzle games of this nature and makes the battles that bit more intense.
Thankfully the high quality text feedback that the other Worms games provide is fully present and correct. The tutorial, game instructions, and objectives are all given in text. The worm taunts aren't subtitled though but this doesn't do anything to affect the gameplay.
Graphically the game is very pleasant. A vibrant, almost cartoon look has been used and is all the better for it. The animation is very smooth and the motion of the water and the characters is superb. The characters, which include Boggy B, Stavros and Ethel to name but a few, all look great. The backgrounds are pre-rendered and look very nice. Of course the game isn't pushing the PS2 in anyway but it is important for the look of the game to suit the game and in this respect Team 17 have got it right.
Overall Game Rating: 8.3/10 Worms Blast offers a substantial single player experience but it is the multiplayer side of the game that gamers will truly appreciate this title for. A multitude of gameplay modes and the chance to fire upon your opponent make Worms Blast a great party game.
Deaf Gamers comment: Worm taunts are not subtitled but all the essential bits are.