Worms WMD Mobilize is reviewed on Google Android (Google Pixel 6 Pro), developed and published by Team17. Also available on Apple iPhone, both for £4.99/$5.99/€5.99. This game is also available for Nintendo Switch, all Xbox platforms, all Playstation platforms and Stadia.
Worms WMD on mobile
Worms has been the most successful franchise for Team17 ever since it’s Amiga original, back in 1995. The developer went under the radar for a while but reemerged to the scene back in 2015. It had reinvented itself as an Indie developer with hits like Overcooked and The Escapists 1 and 2. More importantly, it reinvented itself as a prominent indie publisher with a slew of publicly acclaimed and successful indie games. Games like Blasphemous, Golf with Friends, Narita Boy and the Yooka-Laylee series for example. Between its 90s success and reinvention as publisher it kind off survived on Worms sequels and reinterpretations only. In some ways, Worms WMD (2016) has been the bridge between the old and the new Team17.
Good Worms pedigree
Worms’ gameplay concept is so rudimentary that none of its iterations have ever truly failed, but Worms WMD was a significant leap in quality and reception, scoring an 86 on Metacritic overall. It’s not surprising that Team17 wants to keep the gravy train running. Since its inception in 2016, the game has been released on everything from Linux to Stadia. Now, after seven years, it has finally made its way to the mobile market with the slightly altered Worms WMD: Mobilize.
When you keep Worms’ general gameplay in mind, pairing it with mobile-specific features seems like a natural fit. Zooming in and out of the battleground with pinch gestures on the screen works perfectly, and switching between weapons is a breeze too. However, the overlay d-pad used for moving your worms and aiming can feel a little awkward. Although the button layout can be changed to your own liking. The fire and jump features are overlaid as buttons as well, and as with all button overlays, precision can be off. Flying a helicopter is a challenge. Charging your weapon and releasing to fire can be a bit inaccurate as well. It might have been better to use a virtual thumbstick or create game-specific mobile gesture moves. Angry Birds more or less took its core gameplay principles from Worms, so it wouldn’t be that bad if the developer “borrowed” a bit of Angry Birds’ UX innovations back.
The almost 30-year-old gameplay mechanics are as solid as a rock. The number of available weapons is enormous, and the artillery, mechs, drill boats and tanks spread throughout the maps are extremely fun to use. Blasting a worm through a solid mountain feels kind of visceral to a certain extent.
The intended and unintended slapstick through misfires and triggering an unexpected chain of chaos is even more prominent than before. Thanks primarily to the level design, mine placement, and the addition of tools, tanks and artillery. The worms spew out a lot of snarky one-liners before and after a turn, and before their untimely demise. Most of the time, they are pretty funny and hit obvious pop-culture references more often than not.
The single player content is split up between 20 training missions and the same amount of campaign missions. The campaign objectives can be a tad tedious which are a bit on the long side. They take somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes which is just a bit long for a bus stop wait or a toilet visit (if you still want to have feeling in your legs, that is), but fit a bus ride just fine. The game takes quite a bit of time to switch turns.
After you make your move or take you shot and the outcome has played out, the game takes another couple of seconds before it switches turn. This slows the game down significantly and although it doesn’t break the game. It just could fit your gaming time on your phone better if you could force the game to proceed to the next phase by tapping the screen.
Lonely in the lobby
The game features multiplayer options as well, as you would expect from a Worms game. Local multiplayer requires you to pass the phone around to let your opponents have their turn. Which works fine. I personally used this mode a lot to get comfortable with controlling most of the weapons. More than I used the fairly rigid training missions, actually. Online multiplayer is possible by inviting a friend or by using the quick play option. In the week that I’ve been playing the game, I haven’t found any players in the player search. This is a bit disappointing because having access to actual people to battle sounds like a really appealing proposition. It’s not uncommon for mobile games to have a slow start in sales compared to console games, though. At least it gives me hope that online matchmaking come to live in due time.
The tried and tested Worms gameplay is still as enjoyable as ever. With a vast array of weapons and machinery providing plenty of hilarious confrontations on the battlefield. Failing your attacks can be just as entertaining as succeeding, and there's plenty of content to keep you occupied. However, it's unfortunate that the online multiplayer options aren't being utilized by the player base, rendering these features largely unused. It's easy to imagine how much fun it would be to play against random opponents and have a seemingly endless supply of cannon fodder at your disposal.