If there was ever an example of how successful Game Maker games can be, JTR’s “Death Worm” would probably be it. It took the indie gaming scene by storm when it was released nearly three years ago, and has been featured in pretty much every PC gaming magazine in existence (I’m a regular reader of UK magazine PCGamer, which has had a copy of Death Worm on nearly every cover disc this year). It’s a good example of gameplay carrying the graphics – Death Worm doesn’t look particularly pretty, but it’s very good fun.
The gameplay, for anyone that doesn’t know, is like a gory, better version of Snake, that game on most mobile phones without a colour screen and many with where you eat little dots by moving in four directions, but must not pass over your own ever-increasing-in-length body. Deathworm eliminates the ability to eat yourself, throws in 360 degree movement and a gravity system, and turns the dots into fodder. Fodder begins with harmless things like wildlife, and quickly changes to gun-toting men, helicopters and tanks. You have to eat these threats without being killed.
That’s where the gravity comes in, both cleverly and originally. The bottom half of the screen is just sand. Most fodder won’t appear in this area, they’ll either be standing on top of it or flying – which makes the other half the sky. Here, gravity takes control, so you have to launch yourself at an angle where you can quickly eat some people then get back underground. You have minimal control over your worm in mid-air – the skilled players will be able to get huge combos from single jumps. That’s pretty much everything the game has to offer, yet it’s incredibly fun to play, and extremely addictive.
As previously mentioned, Death Worm’s graphics aren’t great. They’re functional, but they don’t go particularly well together. The HUD is simpler than it could be too – it just shows the most necessary information in single-colour text. None of this detracts from the fantastic gameplay, though it is weird for a game without graphical near-perfection to get this popular.
Death Worm’s sound effects are functional at best. There’s a wide range of them for the range of happenings – explosions, consumption of humans, men firing etc, though a couple seem a little out of place. There’s only one music track in the game, which fits pretty well and is catchy too. If you don’t like it, though, there’s a button on the menu to turn it off.
So, is the popularity of Death Worm well deserved? Many of its aspects aren’t great, but the gameplay truly does shine, so for that, it is. Its popularity has spawned many similar inspired games, including some from high-profile developers like Jesse Venbrux (JTR uploaded the current version of Death Worm to YoYo Games fairly late, to which a hoard of Venbrux fanboys mass-commented on how it was a rip-off of his version). The original, to me, is the best though. It may not be pretty but it’s damn good fun.
If you know of a game you would like to see reviewed (that isn’t yours, and preferrably isn’t your friend’s either), feel free to suggest it to me. You can do it in a number of ways: a PM on YoYo Games (my account), a PM on Game Maker Community (link), an email (notalotgames(a)hotmail.co.uk), or if you’re commenting on this blog entry, add the suggestion to your post. Please include a link to the game, on YYG if possible, as well. Thanks!