The iPhone has a lot of strengths as a gaming platform and while maybe it’s been a slow start, there are some stellar examples of top notch modern day gaming on this still new platform.
The thing that has held the iPhone back as a platform has been titles that fall back on old gaming principles that were left behind on platforms like the NES and older. Death Worm is, unfortunately, a prime example of this syndrome that plagues the iDevices.
The game has no premise. You’re dropped in the roll of a creature much like the sand worm in Dune. You swim through the dirt leaping at the surface trying to kill everything that moves from animals to helicopters to UFO’s. Yes, you’re causing such a problem for the surface dwellers even the aliens have come to help kill you. Your sand worm has a vast underground sea of dirt to swim through, presumably because you’re going to grow much longer a la Snake on my 1998 Nokia phone.
As you progress from level to level the scenery stays the same but the enemies increase in difficulty and fire power. It’s very easy to pick up and initially, aside from not being able to understand why you’re essentially playing the bad guy, it’s fun…for about ten minutes.
You receive upgrades to your sand worm making him faster, stronger, and longer, as well as momentary power-ups that will allow you to jump REAL high or spit fire. I played it as far as I could without losing my mind from boredom and was able to unlock the next stage which places the exact same gameplay on a new backdrop. It’s very 1988.
Aside from the first stage, there are two unlock-able stages with a graphical promise of more to come. There is one mini-game which is a sort of dash level where you keep your sand worm from running into underground obstacles. Here, there is also a promise of more mini-games to come.
I could go on and on about my objections to this game but I won’t. Here’s the bottom line.
Old School Gaming: There’s a time and place for old school gaming and while I’m not in the slightest bit a fan of this particular throw back game, I’m happy to admit they do a faithful job capturing the arcade style of play that kept people pumping quarters into those machines in the first arcades.
Smooth Gameplay: This game runs well. It controls well and does so intuitively. It’s extremely pickup-and-go with no learning curve whatsoever.
Game Center: I love Game Center and while I can’t imagine playing this game any longer, I’ve got to salute anyone that’s jumping on Apple’s system and not +Plus, OpenFeint, or Crystal.
Lack of innovation: There is nothing new about Death Worm. We’ve seen it all before and I just don’t feel it does anything but hold the iPhone back and give iPhone naysayers an opportunity to wave their PSP’s at me and say my iPhone doesn’t do games.
I’m the Bad Guy!?: I don’t need a lot of story. I love games like Angry Birds and they give us little premise at all, but they give us a premise nonetheless. All I need is someone to tell me why the hell I want to kill everything on the surface and I’ll do so with reckless abandon, but until they do, I’m going to put it down after two seconds of uncomfortably killing soldiers who seem to just want to kill the thing that’s killing them. In this, even the old games of the 80’s are beating Death Worm.
Death Worm is clearly lacking in innovation, and personally, I’m having trouble playing the game for long periods of time. With a lack of story, lack of creativity, and an overall lack of fun, I say avoid this worm-hole of a mess until further notice.