Q: What do you get if you cross B-movie homage Tremors, 8 bit games and new technology?
A: Super Mega Worm for the iPhone
In this game, though, it’s you that’s the giant worm, burrowing through the ground to leap up and eat unsuspecting animals and people. Clearly taking its inspiration from the 8 bit world, it’s a game whose look and feel will instantly appeal to retro gamers.
Graphics are blocky, basic and limited in both size and colour, looking like they could have been drawn by a reasonably talented 10 year old. Yet, from the moment the title screen appears explaining the game’s plot, they are full of that charm that characterised the great 8 bit games. If you remember the 80s, this modern game will give you a fuzzy feeling of nostalgia.
The graphics are full of lots of humorous little touches. From the cute, bubble-style police cars that patrol above ground to the funny speech bubbles that appear over your victims’ heads (“I promise I’ll be good” “Why me?” etc.); everything adds to the game’s charm and it’s clear that the developers have taken a great deal of care when designing the look and feel of this title. Even the violence (complete with a good old splash of red pixels for blood) somehow seems charming when rendered in 8 bit clothing.
The basic tunes and sound effects similarly add to the charm. The noise of your worm tunnelling through the ground is atmospheric, whilst the cries of the little people as you chase them, and their squeals and screams as their sad little lives end in a squelch of blood are great. All topped off by a suitably beepy SNES-style tune will bring back fond memories for anyone who remembers the halcyon days of gaming.
This unashamedly retro approach is without doubt that game’s strongest suit, so it’s a real shame that the developers couldn’t quite come up with a game to match. Super Mega Worm is initially great fun (and remains so in short bursts), but soon becomes rather repetitive. Each level boils down to little more than eating stuff to stay alive and eating enough people to progress to the next level.
It’s also lacks the level of challenge you’d expect from an 8-bit inspired game and definitely panders to the “Here’s a Trophy Because You’ve Managed To Switch Your Machine On” breed of modern, casual gamer. Although new enemies come along with each level, they don’t usually pose much of a threat, so it’s pretty easy to rack up some high scores.
There’s no real sense of risk and reward to the game. In Hungry Shark (a very similar game), you can take strategic decisions that affect both the way you play the game and your score. You can hang around at the top of the ocean and eat easy and plentiful (but low-scoring) victims or you can dive to the depths where food is more limited and worth a lot more points, but also more dangerous. Unfortunately, unless your goal is simply to rack up a massive high score, Super Mega Worm soon becomes rather repetitive.
At least controls have been reasonably well implemented, although they are not without issues. Direction arrows are in the bottom left corner of the screen, with a button (for speed boost) in the bottom right. This configuration mostly works, but there were times the buttons felt a little bit close together and I found myself accidentally pressing the wrong one and heading off in completely the wrong direction. Whilst Super Mega Worm offers both a D-PAD and tilt controls as an alternative, I didn’t find these terribly responsive.
But hey, it’s relatively cheap (£1.49) and fun in short bursts, so I’m more than happy to overlook these deficiencies for a game that transports me back in time so perfectly.