I’m talking about Snake, the classic game where move your snake around the board and eat and eat and eat until your tail grows so long that you eventually run into yourself. According to your friend, and mine, Wikipedia, Snake originated in the 70’s with Blockade by a company named Gremlin Industries (not to be confused with Gremlin Graphics that eventually became Gremlin Interactive). Snake has had a long career and today’s game adds to that distinguished career. Atomic Worm by Charlie Dog Games is more than just your average snake clone. Although the developer might rap me in the mouth for this, I believe it’s a combination of snake and a match-3 game. That’s right, a match-3. I didn’t intentionally start out to review another one of these games, but it appears i have. Of course it’s not a traditional click 3 items, or falling block match-3, it’s a snake variant. It’s also another freeware title. I guess I just seem to be getting a lot of freeware stuff.
There’s something like twenty levels, where each level has a particular shape and color scheme. Essentially you guide your snake or worm since the game is called Atomic Worm. Hmm yes, from now on we’ll call it a worm and not a snake. I’ve just decided. Seems logical don’t you think? Anyways as I was saying, essentially you guide your worm around the playing field, eating up, umm, icons, or items, or heck lucky charms if you wish. It makes me think of lucky charms cereal. Anyways you collect the items and it adds to your tail. Now this tail trails behind you like other snake games, however you’re not eating to grow, you’re collecting.
Now the way to get to the next level is that you must fill up your meter on the left side of the screen. You do this, and here’s where the match-3 comes in, by collecting three or more of the same kind if item in a row, well in succession I guess, it’s not technically a row. Anyhoo, you have five seconds to collect anymore of that same type of item before it disappears. When it does you get points, and also your meter filled. When your meter is filled an exit opens up and you need to guide your worm there. I need to back-pedal a little bit, I guess you’re eating flowers, which seems appropriate for a creature that spends most of his time in the dirt, wouldn’t you think? The more of that same flower you have on your tail, and as long as there’s at least three-in-a-row, all the flowers of that type will disappear and add to your meter. You must take care not to run into your own tail, or else you lose lives.
The graphics are strangely their own. They’re a bit abstract, and glowy, yep another word I just made up, if you’ve been reading my reviews you’ll notice I like to make up words, because made up words best express what I’m trying to, uhh, express. It’s kind of neat looking in a 80’s vector graphics, sort-of way, although it’s not using vector-graphics from the 80’s. Also the playfield tends to rotate, which although this doesn’t belong in the graphics portion of this review, I put here because firstly, it does it graphically, and secondly, I didn’t want to add to many extra lines to the other paragraphs. The music is pretty weirdy, technoey, yep two more made up words, and suits the game perfectly. The sound effects aren’t annoying at all and have this kind of weird electronicy (made up word) sound to them.
Okay so that was the good side (no really it was, sorry if I made it sound weird, but you should try it and you’ll probably agree with me but still enjoy playing it), now here’s the bad side. The only drawback with this game is it’s control scheme. Yep, it always goes back to the controls, doesn’t it? Well that’s ok I guess. Any game that tries to be even slightly original has problem with user-interface. Basically your worm has to move over this grid, not just anywhere it wants, and to make it go a direction you have to move your mouse cursor over the gridline you want it to move to. Makes it difficult some times to get it to go where you want, because it’s so itchy you end up selecting the wrong line. It works based on direction from the pivot point (a point where grid lines intersect), so if you are just slightly in the wrong direction it goes where you don’t want it to. This is really the only bad part, and for the most part you can get used to it. It does, however, get a little frustrating when you’re just off. I would have preferred if you had to actually click on an adjoining line segment to actually move there, would have made it much easier. I also tried switching from mouse to keyboard, but for some reason the worm would not respond to me in keyboard mode. Don’t know what that was all about, maybe I was using it wrong
At any rate control issues aside, the game is pretty solid, and interesting. It adds interesting things. Someone once said that the way they would keep people playing is by having the levels change all the time. I think this game does a good job. In fact that’s sort of a lesson in life, “change-it-up” it keeps you from getting bored. Say your workout routine, or programming, or anything for that matter. Gets too boring if it’s the same thing all the time.
Name: Atomic Worm
Developer: Charlie Dog Games
Price: Free (the most fabulous word in the world next to fun)
Final Analysis: A fun, interesting, yet odd game, with some mechanics you know and love.