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Worms 2008: A Space Oddity

For: Mobile

These invertebrates have got a bone to pick with you

Product: Worms 2008: A Space Oddity | Developer: Mnemonic Studios | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Action, Retro | Players: 1 | Networking: on one device | Format: J2ME | File size: 567KB | Reviewed on: N81 8GB other handsets | Version: Europe
Worms 2008: A Space Oddity Mobile, thumbnail 1
At its heart, Worms has always been a simple game: two teams of worms, armed to the teeth with weapons of varying degrees of silliness, blowing the bejaysus out of one another.

The formula is tried and tested on PC, console, handheld and on mobile phones. In fact, THQ Wireless hasn't been tentative about bringing the Worms brand to mobile

We've had the original Worms, Worms Forts 3D, Worms 2007 AND Worms Crazy Golf so far, plus Worms World Party on the original N-Gage (with a second coming planned for the new N-Gage platform).

Oh, and a multiplayer version of Worms was announced last year too, although we confess to being unsure about whether it ever actually went on sale.

And now we've got Worms 2008: A Space Oddity. It keeps the same basic formula as its forebears, but beefs up the visuals, nabs the space theme of the recently-released Wii game of the same name, and throws in some mini-games that cheekily spoof classic video games.

If you're playing alone, you can fire up a Quick Game to get straight into the action, create a Custom Game to tweak the options, or cut your teeth (or whatever worms have – gums?) in the Campaign mode.

This sees you working through a succession of scenarios, which start easy to introduce you to the game and its controls, but quickly progress to more challenging levels that'll truly stretch your strategic skills.

You get to choose a path through a selection of planets, encountering the mini-games along the way to break up the basic action. More of those in a minute.

The graphics are the best yet in a mobile Worms game, being bold, colourful and packed with character, with lovely cartoon touches as you turn your foes into toast.

Better still, on some phones you can play in landscape mode, which suits the action better than portrait mode. The levels themselves look better than ever, thanks to some nifty visual stuff happening in the background, so it's worth switching the view.

The controls have been kept nicely stripped down too. You move around by pressing '4' and '6' to go left and right, while pressing '7' to jump and '9' to backflip. Aiming weapons is done by pressing '2' and '8'.

Meanwhile, a tap on the left soft-key brings up your weapons list, while '1' lets you look around the level to pick your next target.

The choice of weapons has been cut down, so you're not overwhelmed with a vast selection that you don't know how to use. Diehard Worms fans from other gaming platforms might be disappointed at this, but it makes for a more accessible mobile game.

And besides, you can still let loose a robo-sheep. Which is nice.

Finally, there's the AI. THQ Wireless has been keen to talk this up for Worms 2008, and it's true that the enemy worms seem smarter than those in previous versions. They're certainly crafty enough to pinpoint your weak spots and leave you swearing, but not to a frustrating degree.

All in all, it's the best mobile version of Worms yet. And then you've got mini-games thrown in for good measure too.

There are four: Invasion, Frag Command, Astro Arrival, and Rescue. Each is a fairly transparent spoof of a classic videogame, except with Worms replacing the main characters.

So Invasion is Space Invaders, Frag Command is Missile Command, Astro Arrival is Lunar Lander, and Rescue is a bit like Defender, albeit with the tweak that the aliens are trying to snatch your worm mates from the ground.

The mini-games are pretty fun in their own right, but as part of the overall package they're an excellent inclusion. Meanwhile, the pass-the-phone mode lets you enjoy multiplayer Worms as it should be played (i.e. with people taunting each other in a confined space). It's excellent too.

In fact, Worms 2008 is an all-round excellent game. If the aim was to please longtime Worms fans while also introducing the series to a new mobile audience, then THQ Wireless have succeeded beautifully. Worms 2008 is a treat.
Worms 2008: A Space Oddity
Reviewer photo
Stuart Dredge | 20 May 2008
Marvellous update to the classic turn-based blast'em up, with mini-games providing welcome variety
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