Hey, you all remember Worms? The game you and your friends played decades ago where you’d take turns hopping around as a worm and shooting other worms with deadly and explosive weapons? Of course you do. What a fun game that was! I remember spending multiple days on end with a good friend of mine, creating custom match types and playing over and over, toying with all the different weapons and abilities and seeing what hilarious and even intense shenanigans would occur.
I played the latest Worms game a few years ago with some friends and what I found was depressing — the old formula I loved had aged like milk. A 30 to 60 second turn for each person used to be a nail-biting experience wondering what would go wrong or who would explode next, but now it’s a long time to wait for one unit to attack another, or more likely, to miss and hit itself or nothing. What used to be almost nonstop laughter now feels like dragging out a relatively straightforward battle into a tortured process of trying to shoot and then trying to hide, which isn’t helped by the now-awkward control scheme that hasn’t been sufficiently tweaked in its various iterations.
What I’m trying to say is that Worms as a franchise is utterly obsolete. Gaming has come such a long way that the old clown is no longer fun or funny. But the Worms dynamic — the premise of a couch party game appealing via cartoon-violence slapstick comedy with cute little animals shooting each other — is not obsolete at all. In many ways, its legacy lives on in this summer’s Steam hit Duck Game.