Game Review - by James Allen
One of the oldest computer games out there is the variation on the snake game. Basically, you move a snake around, eating specific objects and gradually growing in size, hoping not to run into yourself or a wall. The next in this long line is Plasmaworm, published by Cheapass Games, known for their inexpensive line of card games. There isn't much that you can do to improve upon this specific kind of game, but what will Plasmaworm do to distinguish itself from the pack? Will Plasmaworm devour all of the objects in the known universe, or double back on itself in a testament to ineptitude?
The full version of Plasmaworm comes with twenty different levels to test your worm driving skills. In addition, we have a full-fledged level editor, which which you cannot only edit the levels themselves, but also the background and the music. This is a really neat idea, and is something that puts Plasmaworm ahead of the pack. The background is comprised of several different shapes and colors, and the music is made up of beat, ambient, loop, and hit noises, all of which can be tuned to your liking. It's a great idea, surpassing so many games that have a fixed soundtrack or background with a set order of presentation. The games themselves can be played with one or two players on the same machine, and you can also adjust the difficulty, which alters the speed at which the worm moves around the levels. In a blast from the past, completed levels are "saved" by means of passwords; this ancient idea is somewhat cutely rustic, but it would have been better if the game would have saved your progress automatically, instead of requiring you to jot down the passwords on a scrap of paper. Nevertheless, the level editor is a powerful and easy to use tool which makes the features in Plasmaworm top-notch. And the game is $10.
Like I stated in the features section, the music in Plasmaworm is a techno mixture of four different settings that can be changed to your liking. This kind of flexibility is not seen very much in games these days, and it's a refreshing addition. The music itself accompanies the game greatly, adding to the psychedelic nature of Plasmaworm. I think the greatly adjustable music option is really neat, and makes the sound notable.
Plasmaworm adds a couple of new ideas to the classic snake game. First, each of the objects is different point values, dependent on the difficulty of their location. Secondly, there are areas on some of the levels that can speed up or slow down your worm. There are also power-ups that can give your worm the ability to shoot, or gain an extra life. Lives are pretty easy to come by, as you can gain them by snatching up the specific object, or completing a level; however, there is a maximum amount you can possess. To mix up the action, there are several levels in which the targets are moving around the arena; this requires skill and timing that other snake games do not test. That's basically it; Plasmaworm makes a couple of innovations to the theme, which makes the game stand out from the rest of the bunch.
The graphics are wacky. The plasma background is really cool looking, and it's probably the aspect of Plasmaworm which identifies this game among its competition the best. The patterns are truly trippy, and distract you from the task at hand on several occasions. It makes you wonder what the inspiration for such an odd background was (well, not really). The rest of the objects in the game are a random collection of everyday items, like cats, eight balls, masks, and the like. The worm itself even looks good, gyrating around the level in search for meaty goodness. The graphics in Plasmaworm are definitely a treat, and original to say the least.
Plasmaworm is an interesting game. It takes the classic approach to snake games, and adds innovating graphics, customizable sound, moving objects, and several other innovations to make an original idea that differentiates itself from other offerings. If you like this kind of game, then Plasmaworm is a title that you should check out. And at only $10, it won't make a severe hit to your checking account. Sure, Plasmaworm is a one trick pony, but that pony comes close to winning the Kentucky Derby.