Worms (1995 video game)

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Publisher(s)Ocean Software
Designer(s)Andy Davidson
Composer(s)Bjørn Lynne
Platform(s)Amiga, Amiga CD32, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Atari Jaguar, Mac OS, IBM PC compatible (MS-DOS), PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Super NES
ReleaseAmiga, CD32, Game Boy & Mac
Mega Drive
  • EU: June 1, 1995
  • NA: October 31, 1995 (Retail)
  • EU: 1995
  • NA: October 19, 2011 (Steam)
  • NA: 1996
  • EU: November, 1995[3]
  • JP: February 28, 1997
  • EU: September 29, 1996
  • NA: 1996
  • EU: 1995
  • JP: March 14, 1997
  • NA: May 15, 1998
Genre(s)Artillery, Strategy
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Worms is a 2D artillery tactical video game developed by Team17 and released in 1995. It is the first game in the Worms series of video games.

Worms is a turn based game where a player controls a team of worms against other teams of worms that are controlled by a computer or human opponent. The aim is to use various weapons to kill the worms on the other teams and have the last surviving worm(s).


From the Amiga version: A scrapyard themed level, with the player using the blowtorch tool.

Worms is a turn based artillery game, similar to other early games in the genre such as Scorched Earth. Each player controls a team of several worms. During the course of the game, players take turns selecting one of their worms. They then use whatever tools and weapons are available to attack and kill the opponents' worms, thereby winning the game. Worms may move around the terrain in a variety of ways, normally by walking and jumping but also by using particular tools such as the "Bungee" and "Ninja Rope", to move to otherwise inaccessible areas. Each turn is time-limited to ensure that players do not hold up the game with excessive thinking or moving. The time limit can be modified in some of the games in the Worms series.

Over fifty weapons and tools may be available each time a game is played, and differing selections of weapons and tools can be saved into a "scheme" for easy selection in future games. Other scheme settings allow options such as deployment of reinforcement crates, from which additional weapons can be obtained, and sudden death where the game is rushed to a conclusion after a time limit expires. Some settings provide for the inclusion of objects such as land mines and explosive barrels.

When most weapons are used, they cause explosions that deform the terrain, creating circular cavities. The types of playable terrains include "island" (terrain floating on a body of water), or "cave" (cave with water at the bottom and terrain at both top and bottom of the screen that certain weapons such as "Air Strike" cannot go through; this type is not available in 3-D versions due to camera restrictions). If a worm is hit with a weapon, the amount of damage dealt to the worm will be removed from the worm's initial amount of health. The damage dealt to the attacked worm or worms after any player's turn is shown when all movement on the battlefield has ceased.

Worms die when one of the following situations occurs:

  • When a worm enters water (either by falling off the island, through a hole in the bottom of it, or by the waterline's being raised above the worm during sudden death)
  • When a worm is thrown off either side of the arena
  • When a worm's health is reduced to zero


The game was originally created by Andy Davidson as an entry for a Blitz BASIC programming competition run by the Amiga Format magazine, a cut-down version of the programming language having been covermounted previously. The game at this stage was called Total Wormage (possibly in reference to Total Carnage) and it did not win the competition. Davidson sent the game to several publishers with no success. He then took the game to the European Computer Trade Show, where he met with Mark Foreman – Head Games Buyer at GEM Distribution. Mark suggested to Andy that he should speak to Ocean/Team17 as they would be an ideal partner – they also had a stand at the show. Team17 made an offer on-the-spot to develop and publish the game.[4][5]

During the development of Worms 2, Andy Davidson wrote Worms – The Director's Cut, a special edition produced exclusively for the AGA chipset Amiga. Only 5000 copies were ever sold. It was also the last version released for the Commodore Amiga platform from which the game originated.

The references to the developers' home county, Yorkshire, is visible, with a soundbank named "Tykes", which is a Yorkshire accent, and in the "Hell" level found in the single player mission mode, a sign with "Welcome to Ossett! Ha! ha! ha!" written on it.

The North American release of the PlayStation version was the subject of considerable negotiation, as Sony Computer Entertainment of America had a policy against 2D games being published for the console.[6] The Sega Saturn version of the game was a straight port of the PlayStation version.[7]

In 1995, Team17 began development on a port of Worms to Nintendo's Virtual Boy. The game was to be published by Ocean, but was canceled only weeks into development as a result of Nintendo's discontinuation of the console.[8]

An Atari Jaguar version was also developed by Team17 and published by Telegames in May 15, 1998.[9][10] Telegames announced the release of this version after becoming the last remaining software publisher for the Jaguar and like other games published following the system's discontinuation,[11] Worms could be purchased either through direct order from Telegames' US and UK websites or select retailers such as Electronics Boutique.[12][13] It also served as the final title released for the console to be officially licensed with the Atari name, as the rights to said name and other intellectual property rights of Atari Corporation were sold to Hasbro Interactive before JT Storage's bankruptcy in 1999.[14]

Character, level and sound design[edit]

The game's graphics and sound design is primarily 'cartoon-like' (though less so than the later games in the series). Levels designs are randomly generated by the use of alpha-numeric strings as their seeds. The object and landscape sets used to generate the field are arranged into 'themes' including forests, martian landscapes, beaches and 'hell'.


Worms is the first in the Worms series of games. A remake, also called Worms, for the Xbox 360 was released in 2007. It has since been released to the PS3, in April 2009, and on the iPhone on July 11, 2009.

Worms Reinforcements[edit]

Worms Reinforcements (1996) is an expansion pack for Worms, which was later amalgamated with the original game to create Worms and Reinforcements United (a.k.a. Worms United or Worms Utd.) the same year. Released only for the PC, it added a single player campaign and the ability to add custom levels and soundpacks (which was already available for the Amiga version). It also included an introductory FMV.

Worms: The Director's Cut[edit]

Worms: The Director's Cut (1997) is a sequel to Worms, available only on the Amiga. It is largely built upon the original Amiga game engine with various gameplay enhancement and additions, as well as graphical improvements and fixes.


Review scores
AllGame4.5/5 stars (PS1)[15]
EGM8.625/10 (SAT)[16]
GameSpot7.6/10 (PC)[17]
Next Generation4/5 stars (SAT, PS1)[21][6]
Amiga Power60% (Amiga)[18]
Maximum3/5 stars (PC, SAT)[19][20]
Sega Saturn Magazine90% (SAT)[7]

Worms was a commercial success. By March 1996, its sales had reached almost 250,000 copies, following its release in November 1995.[22] Across all its ports, the game ultimately sold above 5 million units by 2006.[23]

Worms sharply divided critics. Reviewing the Saturn version, Sega Saturn Magazine especially praised Worms's unexpected complexity and the fun of multiplayer mode, and called it "Quite simply the most playable game to hit the Saturn so far."[7] Maximum commented that "Basically, Worms is Lemmings, but it's without the puzzles and with weapons instead." While firmly stating that they found the game dull and unappealing, they acknowledged that it was clearly well-liked by gamers.[19][20] A Next Generation critic argued while the game resembles Lemmings on a cursory examination, in actuality it is much more similar to Cannon Fodder. Praising the need for both strategy and skill, the multiplayer design, and the randomly generated landscapes, he described Worms as "the kind of game that makes no excuses for its lack of texture-mapped polygons or its minimalist gameplay. Worms is a fun game with an infectious spirit and near endless replay value."[21][6] Coach Kyle of GamePro summarized that "A humorous concept never really pays off in Worms." He criticized that the tiny size of the characters and their weapons makes them unappealing and even hard to make out. While allowing that the use of the different weapons is interesting at first, he found the action too slow-paced and repetitive to maintain interest.[24] The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly commented that "Some games have great graphics and control, but Worms doesn't need either because the fun factor is a 10+. With multiplayer ability of up to four people, Worms is one of those games that is so unique, it doesn't fit into any category - except innovative and incredibly addictive."[16] They later named it one of their "Top 5 Most Original Games of 1996".[25]

GameSpot criticized the slowness of large multiplayer sessions and the imprecision of the keyboard controls, but, like Sega Saturn Magazine, they lauded the combination of surface simplicity and underlying complexity, summarizing that "Like the board game Othello, Worms takes only a few minutes to learn, but may take a lifetime to master."[17]

Conversely, the Amiga Power review, written in the style of a magazine personality quiz, whilst praising the detail of the animation, described frustrating imbalances especially in relation to the vaunted 16-player multi-player mode and was critical of the puerility of the game's humour.[18]

Electronic Gaming Monthly named Worms a runner-up for Strategy Game of the Year (behind Dragon Force).[26]


  1. ^ Worms at MobyGames
  2. ^ Worms review from CU Amiga Magazine (Dec 1995) – Amiga Magazine Rack Archived 2012-02-20 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Christmas Games Guide". Computer Trade Weekly. No. 565. United Kingdom. 27 November 1995. p. 43.
  4. ^ IGN [ Worms Blast Preview]
  5. ^ GameSpy [ Worms: Open Warfare Developer Diary]
  6. ^ a b c "Worms". Next Generation. No. 19. Imagine Media. July 1996. p. 76.
  7. ^ a b c Merrett, Steve (January 1996). "Review: Worms". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 3. Emap International Limited. pp. 86–87.
  8. ^ VR32.de Archived 2009-03-22 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Charlton, Frank (August 1996). "STF News... - Worms wriggles in". ST Format. No. 85. Future plc. p. 10.
  10. ^ Smith, Jason. "Atari Jaguar Timeline". jaguarsector.com. Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 2018-09-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ "Tidbits..." Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 94. Ziff Davis. May 1997. p. 24.
  12. ^ "News Bits". GamePro. No. 105. IDG. June 1997. p. 20.
  13. ^ "Recent Sightings of an Endangered Species". GameFan. Vol. 5 no. 10. Shinno Media. October 1997. p. 36.
  14. ^ "Hasbro Interactive Acquires Legendary Atari Game Property Assets". Nine Lives. March 16, 1998. Archived from the original on 7 November 2005. Retrieved 2018-12-02. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  15. ^ Worms (Playstation) Review
  16. ^ a b "Worms Review". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 82. Sendai Publishing. May 1996. p. 32.
  17. ^ a b Ward, Trent (May 1, 1996). "Worms Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on March 20, 2014. Retrieved July 20, 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  18. ^ a b "Amiga Power Issue 57". Internet Archive. Future plc. January 1996. pp. 30–32. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  19. ^ a b "Maximum Reviews: Worms". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. No. 3. Emap International Limited. January 1996. p. 158.
  20. ^ a b "Maximum Reviews: Worms". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. No. 3. Emap International Limited. January 1996. p. 144.
  21. ^ a b "Hooked". Next Generation. No. 18. Imagine Media. June 1996. p. 118.
  22. ^ Staff (March 1996). "Sales of Worms skyrockets". Computer Game Review. Archived from the original on October 18, 1996. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  23. ^ Day, Ashley (April 2006). "The Making of... Worms". Retro Gamer (23): 26–29.
  24. ^ "ProReview: Worms". GamePro. No. 93. IDG. June 1996. p. 64.
  25. ^ "Top 5 Most Original Games of 1996". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 91. Ziff Davis. February 1997. p. 152.
  26. ^ "The Best of '96". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 92. Ziff Davis. March 1997. p. 88.

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