And the award for the worst name for a game ever goes to… Tape Worm by Spectravision. Did they actually know what a tapeworm was? Awful name aside the concept for this game also doesn’t really make sense, especially when you compare it with the title. In this game you play as Slinky, a ‘Spectraworm’, who loves fruit but is unable to acquire it so he eats a bunch beans and then acquires the fruit with excessive flatulence, wha-? We all know this is a ‘snake game’ but this whole package so far is somewhat off-putting even the box is somewhat disturbing; the box-art is drawn in a very juvenile fashion, depicting a creepy worm with glasses eating an apple while a weird bird and a creepy six legged spider wearing a plaid hat watch on in immeasurable pleasure. I also just noticed while examining the box-art that in the bottom right hand corner of the box there is a tiny worm emerging from one of the apples, could it be that Slinky is actually exterminating a species of peaceful fruit dwelling worms? How many has he killed? How many more will be destroyed before we can finally stop this monster!?! Alright, enough with the hypothetical’s and let’s review this slimy worm of a game.
This game barely has any graphics; in fact it almost looks like a carbon clone of ‘Surround’, one of the 2600 launch titles. Most of the interesting stuff shows up on the intro screen, where a roster of the characters is shown choppily jumping towards the screen, and each have their own name, the worm is Slinky as we’ve already seen, the bird’s name is Beeky (a bit cliché but okay), the spider’s name is Spanky (okay what the hell), and the beetle’s name is Beetle (the king of originality). The interactive portion of the game is sparse to say the least, the only really interesting thing is the beetle making its merry way over to some fruit at the far right of the screen otherwise it’s just a line of squares with a different color square as the head moving towards a flickering square, and occasionally Beeky or Spanky will show up. The sprites for Beeky and Spanky are actually quite good, they are small but multicolored and still resemble what they are trying to represent. Unfortunately the game is still dominated by squares, which by 1982 was just about unacceptable; Surround came out five years before this game and still looks, on the surface level, the same. Pitfall! Came out the same year as Tape Worm, and I know which game I’d rather look at (hint it’s actually Amidar, no wait that’s a lie).
This game has some of the worst sound effect I’ve ever heard in a video game, they are seriously earbleeding. Every time you move you hear a sound similar to the sound a cat makes in Mouse Trap when you catch them as the dog, except on repeat forever and MORE annoying. The sounds that are made when either Spanky or Beeky arrive on-screen or the worst by far, all you can hear are rapidly repeating high pitched beeps that just destroy your ears, I would very much recommend you press the mute button for this one.
Tape Worm is your basic game of snake with a few twists; first off you have a time limit to reach the next bean in the form of the beetle at the bottom of the screen, if it reaches the fruit before you reach the bean you have to collect two more beans that appear on the playfield. The second twist is the introduction of avoidable enemies in the form of Beeky and Spanky, Beeky will only appear from the right side of the screen while Spanky will only emerge from the top, unfortunately they are very hard to avoid if they get close to you, and their erratic movement leads to them covering a large amount of space leading to many deaths. And finally there is actual variation between the different levels, the first level is just an open playfield but the second level has a wall running horizontally through the center, and the third level takes place during night and you will be blinded, only being able to see your head and you can only see if you eat a bean or press the button to use one of your own. There are four game types, game one is one player slow speed, game two is two player slow speed, game three is one player fast speed (the only one worth playing), and game four is two players fast speed.
Overall this is a rather fun game to play, as long as you mute the sound and temper your graphical expectations. Strangely enough this is one of those games that people on Ebay think are worth more than they actually are, I got my copy boxed from Amazon for less than 15 bucks, but the cheapest boxed copy I can find on Ebay is 48.60$ from the UK (I’m including shipping) but people are asking 50-100 dollars for this game boxed, and the loose carts aren’t too much better. I’d consider this to be one of those cheapo bargain bucket games that people usually hand out for a few bucks each but the cheapest loose cart I can find on Ebay is ten bucks plus three bucks shipping. I know I usually quote the Ebay prices but what about Amazon? Well it’s about the same, the cheapest one is ten bucks total. Until this game gets cheaper I’d recommend waiting, so for the moment this game goes to the Collector’s Zone for being too expensive for the overall experience.