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    jp's Worms: Open Warfare (PSP)

    [April 3, 2008 08:50:05 PM]
    I feel like I've gotten all the enjoyment I can out of this game. Having only played it single player, that's actually quite a lot, since Worms is, IMO a game that shines when played with friends, rather than alone.

    I can't remember the number of the exact challenge where I decided that enough was enough, but I was facing three teams of 4 worms each at full strength. Not easy, I can tell you!

    I guess one of the things I've enjoyed the most is discovering each of the weapons and their subtle uses in the game. Now that I've gone and looked at the manual, I've realized that a lot of my "discoveries" are explained there, but oh well, it was fun to figure them out by myself, that's for sure. Amongst my personal "highlights" I have to include learning how to use the ninja rope as well as taking out 4 worms with one, well-placed, stick of dynamite. I confess that I did watch that one in replay, just because I think it happens so rarely.

    What has surprised me is how little the game has changed/evolved since the earlier one I am familiar with. I actually miss some of the weapons from the Dreamcast version! In all, except for the 3D version I'm not familiar with, it's sort of like this game is stuck in a "rut" with essentially the same gameplay. Sure, the worms might have more character and funny animations and voices, but apart from that not much else has changed. I wonder what new directions a game like this could take, without going into 3D?

    I guess Gunbound is one direction. Gain experience, improve your "character", decorate with extras. It really works, at least when I was playing Gunbound. On some level I wonder if adding some further "worm development" might make things more interesting? (ie, survivors from battles can earn medals, and bonuses...worms with lots of damage taken might get tougher?)

    Hmm... I guess another direction is to play with the gameworld rules. Worms has always been "curious" because of its selectiveness in applying gravity. Crates drop. Worms drop...but the scenery doesn't. I can understand WHY, but I guess there is design innovation potential in there somewhere? (ie, play with different kinds of gravity, or wind in other directions? worms in space?)

    As a final note, I feel like I do have to comment on the background music. For a game that is so fixated on violence (even if it is cartoonish), I found the music to be surprisingly soothing. Very laid back and relaxing... which was quite nice, and made waiting for enemy worms to decide their moves almost bearable. :-)

    Now, I wish I could play with some friends...hehehe.
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    [March 26, 2008 08:50:34 PM]
    I've hit a brick wall in my progress along the challenge mode of this game. (I'm stuck on challenge 13, which pits my 4 worms against two teams of worms at 80% strength).

    My main challenge comes from the fact that:

    (1) My aim is no where near as good as that of my opponents who seem to be able to pull off the most miraculous shots

    (2) I'm not yet entirely familiarized with the amount of damage that each weapon does.

    There isn't all that much I can do about the first point, which makes the 2nd one all the more critical. However, the nature of the game is changing, which is interesting.

    My assumption is that regardless of the accuracy of my opponents, the game is still "fair" in the sense that I have a chance at winning. However, if I am to have any chance of winning, I have to make sure that each and every one of my moves is executed perfectly. Not only in terms of accuracy, but also in terms of effectiveness. Thus, this game has changed from one of "strategy" to a puzzle game where I have to figure out what my optimal move is in terms of weapon to use, and situation in which to use it. As in most puzzle games, whenever I fail, I can start over from the beginning, but with the same gameworld state. (ie, all the worms are in the same positions). So, I've been testing out different attacks trying to find the one that works best. Should I bazooka the worm next to me so that he lands next to another one so that when it's my turn again I can try to take out two together? And so on... all puzzle, with the twist that I need to aim and execute each attack just right. No easy feat for me.
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    [March 21, 2008 04:03:15 PM]
    The first time I booted this up I was looking for some sort of "campaign" mode, couldn't find anything that seemed to match that, and ended up playing "quick matches" or something like that. These were the ones I lost a few times in a row before eventually winning.

    As soon as I won I realized that there is something like a "campaign mode" which starts with a few tutorial levels (yay!) and then continues with different challenge levels. These are essentially games where you play against really weak (i.e. low health) worm teams which, as you clear the challenges, get better (healthier) and more numerous (play against 2 teams instead of just one). So far I'm almost undefeated (I lost challenge 9 once...) and starting to get at the nuances of this game, some of which are IMO pretty interesting.

    Coordination of gameplay. Having thought and written about some of these issues for a while, I am a tad bit...hmm.. overzealous of certain issues. However, this version of worms (are the others the same?) does something in terms of coordinating gameplay that is quite interesting and non-immediately obvious.

    Worms is a game with turn-taking, which means that you can only act when it's your turn. That's pretty common for a lot of games, most notably those of the board and card type. However, turn-taking can also be focused at different levels. For example, in some games it's the characters in the game that take turns, and thus the players who control them also. In advance wars, when it's your turn, you can perform as many actions as possible given the number of units you have and their abilities. In Worms, however, it's both. The players take turns and the unites ALSO take turns, but subordinated to the player.

    Example 1: (Advance Wars)
    Player 1: Moves all his units
    Player 2: Moves all his units
    Player 1: Moves all his units

    Example 2: (Worms)
    Player 1 (has 2 worms): Moves Worm A
    Player 2 (only has 1 worm left): Moves Worm
    Player 1: Moves Worm B
    Player 2: Moves Worm
    Player 1: Moves Worm A

    So, if you have more Worms left than your opponent, your worms will act less than those of your opponents (ie, individual worms will have more possibilities for action than their peers) even though you, as a player, will have the same number of actions.

    From a temporal point of view, this can be confusing. (ie, if you have one worm left, your opponent has four, is your worm 4 times as fast as your opponents worms? how much time has passed in the worm gameworld?)

    From a player's point of view, it helps keep you interested in the game since there is less downtime (if my opponent has four worms and I have one, I don't have to sit around waiting for him to move all of them!)

    From a design point of view, there are other interesting ramifications:

    1. The less worms you have, the more valuable (strategically useful) the become. In particular because you might be able to use one twice before an opponent worm can retaliate)
    2. The more worms you have, the more vulnerable they are (you'll use them less, and thus have fewer chances to retaliate or protect them)

    Off the top of my head I can't think of any other games that do this. Most of the time you are allowed to move one entity (worm), but you actually get to pick which one...rather than being forced to cycle through them (ie, first Worm A, then B, then C, then A again.)

    Hmm...I'm liking this game!
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    [March 20, 2008 08:48:02 AM]
    As soon as I booted this up for the first time I noticed that although I think that I'm quite familiarized with the Worms series in general, I haven't ever really sat down and played it by myself for an extended period of time. Any of the versions. Upon picking my brain further, I realized that the version I am most familiar with, by virtue of having spent a few afternoons with it goofing of with friends, is the one for Dreamcast. I cannot remember what it was called, but it was definitely for the Dreamcast.

    This curious hole in my single player experience helps explain why I lost the three first games I played... on beginner difficulty! Essentially, I realized that although generally familiar with the rules of the game I was woefully uneducated about a few essential skills, basically:

    1) The effects of more than half of the weapons. (which ones are affected by wind? which ones have variable timers? which ones are thrown vs. placed? etc.)
    2) How to effectively move your worm around. (it took me a while to figure out how to jump, and then, how to perform the crucial backflip)

    So, why didn't I learn this stuff when playing multiplayer? I'm not entirely sure, but I would guess that with more players (4, as opposed to 2), the gameworld is much denser, thus it is less important to know how to move your worm soldiers as effectively and the advantages of certain specialized weapons are lessened, making them less effective. (ie, you can always resort to using the bazooka...)

    I did win things are looking up in that sense. :-)
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    jp's Worms: Open Warfare (PSP)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Something better came along

    GameLog started on: Monday 17 March, 2008

    GameLog closed on: Thursday 3 April, 2008

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    I just read that it's been described as an artillery game. I guess that is about right, except for the fact that your artillery platforms are highly mobile...and invertebrate. :-)

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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