Outsourcing is nothing new; almost all big companies do it. Many different industries outsource whether it be for assembly, manufacturing, or acquisition of raw materials. Outsourcing is fairly common in the videogame industry as well; games like Aliens Colonial Marines were famously outsourced to smaller less capable developers much to the chagrin of the consuming populace. Fox is no different, when first breaching into the new burgeoning videogame industry they licensed the initial lineup of games from developer Sirius, and continued using them to develop many of their subsequent games, instead of developing them in-house. If you had ever wondered why games like Fast Eddie and Deadly Duck were under the Fox label well there’s your answer, Fox bought them from Sirius, and later outsourced the labor of making new games to them as well. I really hope I got all that right. Since Fox’s first batch of games weren’t their own and were original they tended to be a bit weird, just look at Beany Bopper, what the hell is it? So, today we’re going to look at the only other Sirius game I haven’t named yet Worm War I or WWI for short (oh I see what they did there).
This game is weird; I can’t decide if the graphics are great or just okay, I keep fluctuating. There is no doubt that this is a very colorful game, this shit is built outta rainbows, but then you see that the colorful exterior is hiding a rather bland interior. Much of the game is composed from large chunky blocks, rectangles everywhere, the only thing that really stands out is the fluid worm animation (those suckers are flopping everywhere). The tank you control is fairly small and low-res, and those Pagoda Gas Stations look like mushrooms. So, it has a flashy exterior plastered in rainbows and some damn good worm animation, coupled with smooth movement and no discernible flicker paired against bland rectangular graphics and gas stations that look like mushrooms. At a glance it looks boring but in action it’s quite nice, I’m torn on this, voice your opinion in the comment section, but I for the life of me can’t decide.
I’m also torn on the sounds, but I’m leaning towards ‘good’ as my opinion. Much of the game’s audio is taken up by a rather high pitched noise when you’re travelling at the slowest speed, speed up and the sound lowers (the opposite of what it should do). The engine noise isn’t the only thing to listen to though, you have the wonderful chunky sound effects of the worms appearing and being exploded, coupled with the unique gloopy sound that the gun makes, makes for a unique audio experience that I rather enjoy. It just sounds so different from the standard shooter on the Atari, and I like it.
This game is a vertically scrolling shooter, with (you guessed it) a twist! In this game you don’t rely on lives, instead you have a fuel counter that slowly goes down, once it reaches zero its game over. You can replenish your fuel counter by driving into the Pagoda Gas Stations; you will burn up fuel more quickly when you crank up the accelerator, so use it sparingly. As with any shooter you are faced with enemies to shoot away, WWI is no different, the worms will appear in groups, as you blast away one group another will appear hot on their heels (do worms have heels?) usually in higher numbers. Once you get past what I have dubbed level one large blocks will begin to descend, you should blast these away because contact with one of these is as bad as hitting a worm. The blocks get more and more dense with each level, eventually it just gets silly. This is just a fun mindless game to zone out to, what I do is accelerate to the maximum speed and just try to get as many worms as possible before I run out of fuel.
Despite being simple and rather mindless WWI is quite fun to play, in my opinion it’s one of the better vertical shooters on the system despite its ridiculous premise, I mean who would name their town Teriyaki that’s just silly. Sadly, much like Alien, finding boxed copies for a sane price is a near impossibility. On Ebay boxed copies of Worm War I are being peddled at 140$ for a copy that isn’t cut in half, I was lucky and found a decent boxed copy on Amazon for 21$, which is what I think the game SHOULD be valued at. Loose copies range from 9$ to 20$, I would recommend against trying to find one of these boxed, in fact I would say to avoid any boxed TCF games until the scalpers move on to something else. So, for loose copies buy away, but boxed copies go to the Collector’s Zone, for now at least, we have to wait and see where the market goes.