Team 17 is once again making a Worms game. Though the last few entries have tried to take those lovable Worms in new directions, such as putting the Worms in 3D, instead of merely porting it to another platform with some tweaks. Although it’s been in 3D form before and my phrasing of “merely porting to another platform” may come off as a backhanded compliment, I’ve grown to expect Worms coming to every platform almost to the point of replacing the maxim, “It plays Doom” with “It plays Worms”. I first owned Worms on the PC, then the Dreamcast, then the GBA and finally on Android. Since I’m of the belief that Worms exists on as many platforms as it can that has the same tried and true “Scorched Earth meets Lemmings” formula, I’m glad that Team 17 is branching the series out in different directions. This time around they take Worms on the open green, do they pull it off? Read on to find out.
A large part of the charm in Worms has been the colorfully vibrant worm-lings placed atop thick outlined cartoon-y environments that destruct as if made of marshmallows. While Worms is visually stunning, the cute high pitched sound track as if voiced by culturally charming chipmunks wraps everything up and is what arguably sets the tone for the entire Worms series. So it comes with a little bit of shock that they hide these voice tracks under lock and key to be opened up only after some unknown requirement is met. Not only are they locked, but once they are unlocked you have to use gold you’ve collected to truly, actual factually unlock them for realsies. I’m not sure who made the decision to put two layers of locks for content that cosmetically enhances a game for the better. Literally, Worms Crazy Golf is preventing you from actually enjoying the best audio of the game until you’ve played the entire game. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if I had my Angry Scots voice bank available from the get-go, but the entire audio section was completely bland during my playthrough, when by rights of the Worms series, I should have been enveloped by it’s charms.
Surely, I thought, this was some devilish play by Team 17 to institute some bonkers in-app purchasing nonsense but, thankfully, there was no such nonsense to be found. That’s a plus, I suppose.
Here’s the part that had me scratching my head. Worms Crazy Golf is actually a really decent arcade golf game. There is some really, REALLY, impressive polish in the game. In certain courses, magnets can either attract or repel the golf ball. Sometimes these magnetic powers are alternating or you need to hit a switch with the golf ball to turn them off or both are in effect. One thing that amazed me is you have this dotted line that forecasts your golf ball’s fly pattern in real time including when outside forces are acting on them. See the below two images. The first one shows the flight path with the magnetic repelling effect and the next image is with the repelling effect active.
That is some super impressive attention to detail, and it doesn’t end there. Later on, the ever changing wind patterns that grace the regular game start to make an appearance (but not the same way it does in a normal Worms game) and the wind will affect the flag pole at the end of the hole. There is this overall feeling throughout WCG that this game has been put through the paces and touched every nuance where it would subtly affect the interaction with the player at a subconscious layer. It takes a little bit, but overall WCG does a fantastic job of coaching you along and getting the most from your shots. When putting, you have a helpful indicator of where the flag pole is (though this does completely take the challenge out of it), other times you have the guidance of your dotted line and the ability to put spin on the ball that has diminishing returns with each successive spin visually indicated as such. Mastering these techniques can really make the par requirements of the hole you are on seem less daunting. Thankfully, there is an additional mode called challenges which essentially teaches you how to properly play the game. You have to unlock the challenges, but this I can understand and they also unlock them at proper times when you really need to be taught some new way to address the golf ball at the current situation.
Alright, so far so good, right? Well, yes and no. Worms Crazy Golf is a fun arcade-y golf game, but for the life of me I don’t see why this game needed to involve the Worms brand anywhere near this game. It’s my honest opinion that Team 17 took a huge risk slapping the Worms label on this game. What I was expecting and what I got out of WCG were so completely different that I had to stop for a moment and change gears because the Worms label was forcing my to play the game wrong. That is to say, I was treating all of my clubs like the standard rocket launcher. I was trying to impart massive damage from a distance. Thing is though, in Worms Crazy Golf, you can finesse the ball after you take your shot. When you fire a rocket in Worms, that’s it. You account for wind/gravity and let’er rip. I was getting frustrated with the game because I kept failing holes which would result in just barely annoyingly long reload screens and slow teleports to and fro the ball’s new location. Thankfully, I actually got far enough in the game that it triggered a challenge event and all of a sudden things just clicked. Worms Crazy Golf should just be called Crazy Golf.
Basically what I was waiting for was some new utilities to help me cruise through the hole I was on. I thought of Worms and I thought that I should be able to shoot one of them landing to finish the hole. This doesn’t happen in WCG. You do get utility power ups but they don’t really relate to any of the classic Worms power-ups to be almost completely disconnected from the worms universe. As far as I can tell, the only way Worms ties into WCG is via the animation and (locked) sound packs. Otherwise, it’s about a golf game that requires finesse. The terrain is capable of being destroyed, but only so far as to hinder you. When your golf ball hits a worm, they will pull out the dynamite plunger and self destruct which would cause you to be in the bunker. This is just one of the hazards of the game. Other hazards include sheep that will eat your ball if it lands close to them, old ladies that will bat your ball away with their purse and moles that will take your ball and deposit it someplace far away. Not everything is a hazard on the play field, sometimes you’ll find cannons that will fire your ball an extra time without being counted as another stroke.
There are four goals per hole. Under par, score, collecting a crate and getting all the gold coins. Usually these goals are oriented in such a way that you are forced to play a hole multiple times to achieve them. The nice thing is that you don’t have to go after them all in one go, as that would be quite difficult indeed. Helpfully, the game will make coins transparent if you’ve already collected them, so you can just concern yourself with nabbing the ones that you missed. These are, when distilled, additional challenges hidden within each hole as you’ll need to really understand the control of the game to properly succeed. The only downside with going for score is getting penalized for shooting your ball off course or basically just playing wrong. Overall though, the score goals on the holes are pretty much worthless to complete as it’s quite easy to accomplish. Control is another thing I’d like to touch on because it’s probably one of the few actual gripes I had with the game. Thing is, on the iPad, the only way to move the trajectory of your shot is by actually touching the reticle on the screen. Team 17 offers two ways to charge your shot. One via a traditional golf game and one via a traditional Worms game. That is to say, press one to start – press again to fire and another to press and hold to start and release to fire. However, there doesn’t seem to be anyway to aim without actually touching near the center of the screen, which is rather uncomfortable on the iPad. I’m a gamer. I am quite familiar with the process of disassociating actions I make in one place and have them relate someplace else. Please give me this option, it would make playing WCG on the iPad that much more comfortable.
It needs to be said that if you enter Worms Crazy Golf with a Worms mindset, you’ll be disappointed. I’m not saying the game is bad, actually it’s pretty damn good. The problem is that it is easy to fall into a rut in this game especially when you consider the stringent par requirements for the hole. In a normal golf game, if you go over par, you just continue playing the course. In WCG, you’ll have to keep trying that same hole until you go under par, which if you aren’t playing the game right will quickly become frustrating. The truth of the matter is that Worms Crazy Golf is super polished and the only thing that actually stands out in this area is this weird audio drop out when scrolling through the achievement list. That’s quite remarkable. It’s hard for me to knock this game. I was expecting Holy Golf Ball Grenades, Grappling Hook Golf Balls, Homing Golf Balls, Airstrike Golf Balls… but there isn’t any of that. What I found was a golf game whose core is about being one with the ball. Carefully calculate your surroundings and sift through strokes at a granular level. Choose the right club for the right moment. It’s shit that you would expect in other golf games but I honestly was not expecting them to have such an important presence in Worms Crazy Golf. I could probably sum up the entirety of my point in how crates are treated in this game. I mean, what would you expect to happen when you collected a crate in a Worms game? Possibly knock a few strokes off? Maybe give you a finite quantity of some utility? How ’bout nothing? Maybe nothing is a bit much, you do get the recognition that you collected a crate. But that’s it. If you are playing a Worms game and collecting a crate does nothing to your advantage, something is off.
83/100: A polished golf game that only has a passing semblance to it’s namesake.