The concept behind Worms is not a new one. The game originally came to the PC in 1995. Since that release, we've seen a few different versions of the game on several different platforms. While Worms World Party may have a slightly updated look to it, it sticks to the same Worms gameplay, fashioned after the old Apple II game, Artillery, where stationary enemy targets are destroyed by proper estimation of and compensation for variables such as distance, wind strength, and shot power. Like the other Worms games, World Party appears simplistic at first, but it actually packs a level of deep strategic value that other games in the genre could only hope to achieve. The game picks up from where the last game, Worms Armageddon, left off, and it adds a couple of new features and a conveniently simple way to get your Dreamcast set up on Wormnet for competitive online play.
Worms World Party by no means attempts to change the formula that has worked so well in the past. The graphics take a very minimalist approach, which is then betrayed by the humorous and cleverly orchestrated animation and explosion effects. The worms themselves are once again composed of small animated 2D sprites who wage war against one another on destructible background terrain. The terrain looks nice, and the levels are well designed. The skies behind the worms are often lit by animated and unusually colorful stars that shift and sway with the direction of the wind. While the overall graphical portion of the game looks a bit plain, when combined with the game's great sound, it puts on a pretty good show. Explosions boom satisfactorily, weapon sounds are authentically re-created and exceedingly visceral, and humorous effects like the "plink" of a worm being cast to do his doom in the water can't help but put a smile on your face. The more eccentric weapons bring laughably wonderful sound effects with them, such as the grumble of the combustible old woman, the braying of the deadly donkey, and the crashing cymbals of death that signal the attack of the holy rolling sally army. PC players will be disappointed to find that all the teams in a single game share the same sound bank, and thus utter the same quips, which is only mildly made up for by the rich diversity of speech types available. The high, shrieking voice of the Hispanic worms as they yell "Traitor!" and "I will kill you now!" in Spanish is just as entertaining as the standby secret agent and drill instructor voices, which admittedly become repetitive and annoying after a while. The music accompanying your battles is competent and enjoyable, never overpowering the first-class sound effects.
One of the most captivating aspects of Worms is the diverse array of options available for each game, effectively making it possible that no two games of Worms are alike. The terrain is randomly generated or can be chosen from a diverse collection of premade levels, and it can consist of either islands or a series of caverns. While both of these areas feature watery depths that spell worm doom, a change in strategy is required for both. Island-based combat tends to focus on propelling your enemies into the water through effective use of distancing weapons such as the baseball bat, fire punch, and dynamite. Subterranean warfare requires direct fire or clever use of the heavier explosives, such as the holy hand grenade, as well as mastering of the tricky ninja rope. Individual games of Worms World Party can be set up to run for any number of rounds with nearly any set of weapons. These options allow players to capitalize on what sets Worms apart from the competition: its rock-solid gameplay. The weapon sets are a joy to use, and nothing is quite as satisfying as parachuting down a sheer cliff, ninja-roping to a convenient ledge, and dropping a stick of dynamite on an unsuspecting worm's little head. Cheap tactics, dirty tricks, and embarrassing maneuvers like prodding a worm over an edge with a deft poke satisfy intensely.
Players put off from purchasing yet another Worms game, especially those who own Armageddon, should take a look at what Worms World Party's online capabilities offer, particularly in terms of longevity and sheer excitement. The CPU is notorious for pulling off last-second feats of ungodly accuracy, or sheer stupidity, but these moments are ever so much more rewarding when performed by a human opponent. The Wormnet matching system is painless to use, and it creates lobbies based on the game setup desired by the players. Beginners and expert players can find each other easily and set up four-way free-for-alls or even two-on-two team-based worm warfare.
Worms World Party offers a new set of single-player games to perfectly complement the multiplayer features. Players can engage in a deathmatch mode against the CPU, where your performances are ranked and evaluated, while the opposition's difficulty setting and strength is scaled accordingly. There are a wealth of training missions, ranging from the simple to the nearly impossible, and they're challenging enough to convey full mastery of a particular weapon or technique while never quite reaching the line of frustration. Playing through the complete set of training and solo missions will thoroughly prepare anyone for the online game, which should undoubtedly be sharing the spotlight with the classic offline multiplayer game. Thankfully, the offline multiplayer game now supports the use of more than one controller.
As a value-based title, Worms World Party is an excellent investment, as it holds its own against just about any full-priced strategy games currently available for the Dreamcast. While the DC's days are numbered, it's nice to know that you can still find excellent software at an excellent price.