For those of you out there who have always dreamed of playing as the worm from Tremors, and have not owned an iOS device at any point in the 2010s, then I am pleased to announce that your long exodus has reached its happy conclusion. Super Mega Worm has arrived on Android devices, and lo, its wrath has descended upon our smartphones like the hellfire of a thousand angry ’80s haircuts. While it’s probably a safe bet to say that Super Mega Worm is the best giant-death-worm sim on the market, it’s also a solid pick-up-and-play option for your morning commute or commode trip.
Super Mega Worm takes place on a single, endlessly side-scrolling screen, and you control the avenging worm Wojira with a virtual d-pad, and two virtual, context-sensitive buttons for actions such as firing acid spit, setting off EMPs, and slamming your massive worm into the ground for a meteor smash. As a fun little intro sequence explains, Wojira is the planet’s last-ditch effort to cleanse the world of humanity before we mess things up for good. The rest of the game, as such, is pretty self explanatory: you are a worm who eats people. You eat everything else too (particularly other animals, which kind of seems counter-productive in this case), and well you should, as health is dictated by a constantly deteriorating stamina bar that is refilled only by eating.
The controls respond well for the most part, with the exception of the occasional accidental activation of the EMP, and there’s an option for simplified two-direction gameplay for those who feel so inclined. A little more control customization would have been nice in terms of sensitivity, but otherwise the controls work well. While the whole 8/16 bit “style” has gotten a bit overdone in recent years, it can still be pulled off well, and Super Mega Worm employs the aesthetic effectively, if not in any groundbreaking or exceptional way. The visual style is helped by the over-the-top pixelated gore that comes with each enemy you consume, usually coupled with horrifying screams and animal noises.* The chiptune soundtrack is well done and filled with the requisite number of bleeps and bloops for the game’s faux-retro stylings, but the continuous overworld theme, while catchy, grows repetitive quickly. You’ll likely find yourself muting the music for longer stretches of play.
Super Mega Worm seems to approach itself as a humorous game — you’re a worm eating people, and all these people are trashy and say dumb things! Also, blood! — but your mileage may vary; for some, the jokes may even land. Personally, the speech bubble gags never really worked for me, but it doesn’t really get in the way. At worst, it’s just kind of in the background, and at least it’s nothing as mind-numbing as the memetic regurgitation that passes for “humor” in all too many games these days.
Thankfully, while the presentation doesn’t always fire on all cylinders, the gameplay is gleefully fun. What starts out as a fairly simple game that lets you get away with just bouncing along in a given direction quickly becomes hectic, and requires some semblance of strategy, especially given the constantly deteriorating stamina bar and the increasingly-hazardous array of on-screen enemies. The game also progresses seamlessly, instantly starting a new level without any interruption to the action, allowing each play session to be a single natural and continuous run.
The action is always over-the-top and fun, as your vastly overpowered worm is kept in check by an increasingly overwhelming hostile human meatbag resistance. There are bonus levels peppered about, and the game is built for high-score runs, with Swarm leaderboard integration for those who are into that kind of thing. The time attack mode provides a nice condensed version of this, and it makes for a bite-sized change of pace from the 24-level campaign.
Super Mega Worm had one of the longer delays I’ve seen in bringing a game over from the app store to Google Play, after seeing its original release on iOS devices sometime in the 1970s. However, there doesn’t seem to be too much new content here, in spite of the wait. While I find it difficult to justify knocking off points for this, it’s still a bit of a bummer — a procedurally generated survival mode would have been a solid addition here, adding on a different kind of high-score challenge from the time attack. I also found that the game was fairly pushy with the whole Swarm-integration thing, often randomly prompting you to log in when you just want to play the game. An option to disable this feature entirely would be nice, as there were more than a few times that I was frustrated by the login screen popping up at inopportune times, seemingly without logic.
All in all, though, while Super Mega Worm is a bit short and sometimes feels like its jokes were written by our titular protagonist, it is a gleefully fun game. Filled with over-the-top action and the most scenery-chewing I’ve seen in a game this side of MGS4, Super Mega Worm makes for some great pick-up-and-play escapism as you bide your pitiful time awaiting the great return and cleansing of Wojira.
*For those who feel awkward playing particularly gory games in public, while playing this on the subway earlier in the week, I got a few disapproving glares from people sitting over my shoulder, but that’s their fault for breaking the social contract of the subway to look at my screen.
As hardcore as Kevin Bacon in cutoffs. Super Mega Worm is a fun and addictive score-muncher that is well worth picking up, throwing into the air, and then swallowing whole.