Wurm: Journey to the Center of the Earth
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System, 1991
Know a terrible ROM? E-mail me!
Story: See... I think we're looking for a ship -or maybe a person- whose name is a weird string of letters and numbers -or maybe we already found it! Or maybe it's a person named Ziggy, but is he related to the ship? IS he the ship??? And there are two mysterious dudes that help in boss fights? but never appear anywhere else? And here are some ruins and underground aliens I guess??? Christ, I give up. It's like The Core meets The Worst Anime Ever. Go on, think of the implications of that.
Also everyone has names like "Zoldar," "Moby" and "Dan."
Gameplay: Mostly you fly around in a tiny 8-bit drill while savage Rorscharch blots gangrape you. It's more projectile-ly than my vomit when watching a Meg Ryan movie, but you get infinite ammo and your health refills pretty damn fast. The
unfair piece of bullshit CHALLENGE is the "fuel" meter, which I think is determined by which ship you're flying in and an equation only Benoit Mandelbrot could love! See, there's a charmingly unnecessary mechanic where you can switch between three ships, provided you've got your Inbred Programmer Decoder Ring on to figure out how. They're only marginally different in performance, but you have to regulate so that you use the "right" amount of fuel lest you crash and burn, so it might be easier and more fun to just grab a shovel and start digging to China.
You can also be Moby the Pantless Wonder (pants have been illegal for Japanese women since the Tokugawa Shogunate) running around with a gun. Unlike in Ship Mode, you have limited ammo and the vitality of an orphan in a Charles Dickens novel. The game is also about as long as a Dickens novel, which is why I hardly played any of it!!
Graphics: Not bad in the same way popular television program CSI is "not bad." It's inoffensive if you catch it once in awhile, but immerse yourself in enough dialogue like "you say tomato, I say cause of death" and you realize they tried about as hard as a teenager keeping his virginity. The backgrounds often blend together, and most of the enemy designs are a complete "what the fuck am I looking at." The anime cutscenes reuse the same shot and slow pan over and over again, although I deserve what I get for trying to hold a 1991 Japanimation clusterfuck to any sort of standards!
Enemies: Comically surreal, the Pool o'Badguys includes dongs, kitties and fifty-foot slabs of meat. Most, though, are flashing geometric balls of nothing, unless you start reaching and coming up with descriptions like "The Human Immunodeficiency Virus playing raquetball in Jamaica."
What's awesome is that this game has the most hilariously disjointed boss system I have ever seen. Before you can plug a tentacle monstrosity in all 12 of his gonads, you have to get the POSSIBILITY reading to some arbitrary percent. You do this by talking to your four baby-faced comrades repeatedly, who give you such helpful advice as "TALK TO US AND WE'LL GIVE YOU ADVICE." Once you shoot it, it breaks into tiny pieces, which you also get to shoot! But then it reforms and... Fuck, you have to talk to the crew again. And again. And again. Action packed.
Fun: Okay, I have some cute little ideas here, Asmik Corp. Why not have switching ships cost fuel, instead of there being a different formula for fuel consumption for every ship you have? Jesus guys, I don't load up my Famicon so I can fucking tell you what X is. Boss fights in video games are always annoying when you have "allies" scream at you about how to beat it ("MAYBE IT'S AN ARM!! AIM FOR THE ARM!!") but to be physically prevented from shooting until you talk to them all, is as abrasive an experience as wanking with steel wool. As for the on-foot levels? I can't think of anything more fun than having no pants and being bludgeoned to death by a bunch of Halo cosplayers, sweetie. Gold star!
Defining Moment: How can you define the Art of Wurm? How about being trapped inside a giant rectum? I'll go with that.
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).