In the early 90s, bedroom coder and Amiga fan Andy Davidson decided to make an Artillery-style Turn-Based Strategy game with a large arsenal of outlandish comedy weapons and - for reasons known only to himself - warring annelids. Showing his game idea - Total Wormage - at a games fair, he caught the eye and imagination of games company Team17, who offered to develop the game. The result was Worms. With weapons ranging from the relatively sane Bazooka, Grenade and Shotgun to the bizarre Sheep, Banana Bomb, and the devastating Holy Hand Grenade.The warring annelids were originally set to be Lemmings, for the first several years of the game's existence. Only when he started trying to sell the game to games companies did he change it from "LemArtillery" to something less copyright-infringing. Some versions of the game still mention "***Artillery" in the credits or title screen.Worms games throughout the years have included:
Worms: Reinforcements/Worms: United (expansion pack)
Worms 2: Armageddon, a sequel to the above game (which is not directly related to the similarly titled Second Generation game Worms: Armageddon) for XBLA (and eventually PSN) that's also been released for the PC as Worms: Reloaded
Worms Open Warfare (handhelds)
Worms Open Warfare 2 (handhelds)
Worms: A Space Oddity
Fourth Generation (2.5D graphics and new gameplay features)
Worms Blast (puzzle game with similarities to Puzzle Bobble)
Worms Forts: Under Siege (3D title with more of a focus on constructing buildings than worm-on-worm warfare)
Worms Crazy Golf (golf from an Artillery game perspective, with Worms weaponry)
The most popular version is probably Worms Armageddon, which is still being patched and modded today to keep compatibility with modern machines despite its age, and has now been made available via the Steam service.
Worms provides examples of:
Abnormal Ammo: Sheep and Pigeons can be shot at opposing Worms, and you can call in airstrikes for more sheep, carpets, explosive mail, and who knows what else.
We know what else... a freakin' CONCRETE DONKEY! Awww yeah.
Accidental Aiming Skills: The AI tends to make some of the most spectacularly improbable shots purely by accident, as the A.I. Roulette decides that they'll pick this turn to miss their intended target. Human players frequently do these too.
What makes this "worse" is that the Artificial Stupidity, at least in the first few games, "misses" by aiming perfectly at spot slightly offset from their true target, rather than fouling their aim by a few degrees or power by a little. When using weapons like Molotov Cocktails or Cluster Grenades, this can work out better for them.
Artillery Game: A comedic take on the genre, with ballistic-toting cartoon worms in place of tanks.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Armageddon weapon's meteors take out almost the whole map. It's down to luck as to whether any of your Worms will survive.
It helps if you burrow one or more of your worms deep into the ground first.
Alternatively, place the electromagnet when you what the Armageddon to hit. Because the game (well, Reloaded, at least) count Armageddon as a metal item, so you basically can aim the most devastating weapon in the game wherever you want.
Artificial Stupidity: It's easy to make an AI that can hit the target every time. It's hard to make one that can convincingly miss.
The AI will also occasionally make some very strange choices in the usage of their weapons (e.g. Bazooka tunneling instead of hitting the obvious target nearby, or using a bazooka to shoot someone right next to them). In some installments, they cannot use the variety of weapons.
Sometimes they'll skip a turn for no apparent reason.
The Stupid AI in Reloaded deliberately invokes this trope. The improved smarter AIs will sometimes do stupid things as well like getting caught in their own explosions, or maybe they're making a sacrifice for some higher strategic value. It's hard to tell.
Now as of Revolution, the AI will often fail to account for the game's newest features - physics objects and water physics. The AI will sometimes destroy physics objects next to them during their turns, even if it results in water bursting out from a water bottle and washing them into the sea. And the AI will sometimes leave the water if they're submerged... Only to go back in before their turn ends. And they don't account for indestructible terrain, either.note This has resulted in, on occasion, the enemy AI switching to a submerged worm and then having him try to shotgun tunnel through indestructible terrain to try and get to an enemy half the map away. This specific example can be found in the "Brawn-Mower" mission, and this is after said submerged worm proceeds to shotgun the water vial that got him submerged in the first place. He'll die long before your worms even reach him, with absolutely no attempt to get out of the water. It might not happen every time, but it's hilarious when it does happen.
Baa Bomb: Sheep exploding. Flying sheep with capes exploding. Flying, swimming sheep with capes and snorkels exploding. Sheep that have been launched from cannons exploding. Sheep spawning from destroyed weapon crates, then exploding. Cloned sheep exploding in herds. Sheep dropping from a plane and exploding. Sheep that have been set on fire dropping from a plane and exploding while La Marseillaise blares in the background. And, in Director's Cut, sheep using Ninja Ropes and exploding.
Bag of Sharing: All worms on the same team have access to a pool of weapons and items.
Zig Zagged with World Party's wormpot setting "specialist worm" that gives each worm on the team specific weapons, but once that worm died, the respective arsenal was transferred to another worm.
Bag of Spilling: In a multi-round versus match, the Regular arsenal setting gives each player a fresh arsenal of weapons and items each round, ignoring what they had remaining in the previous round. Averted with the other settings; the Plunder setting allows teams to keep what they had in the previous round as well as giving them a new arsenal each round, and the Survival setting gives each team only one arsenal at the very beginning that carries over but is never replenished.
British Accents: Several voicebanks in Armageddon and World Party: Scouser, Yorkshire Tykes, Cockney Wideboy, Geezer (also Cockney), Brummie (Birmingham), Stiff Upper Lip, Cad (both upper class accents), Geordie, Angry Scots, Jock (also Scottish)... Worms 3D then brought Welsh and Madchester to the party.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Because of how turns work, when a team of worms starts to dwindle down, they "move faster" than they did before. The game always ensures that players alternate turns, and because there's fewer worms on the team to cycle through, they get to act more frequently. At the extreme end of 1 vs 8, the 1 worm is basically moving eight times as fast as all the other worms. This helps narrow the advantage the 8 might have in such a situation, making spectacular (and usually hilarious) comebacks more likely.
Debatable, the original game's version of the theme is hardly less dark, it was on the disc but for whatever reason not featured in-game:
It was there he saw his friend Spadge, stood upon a bridge. But another worm had also seen him, and aimed to have him dead. Boggy called to Spadge, but Spadge didn't hear! He never knew what hit him, as he flew into the air. It was all too much for Boggy, as he watched his best friend die. His heart filled with rage, and he gripped his rifle tight.
The game itself is much darker in its premise than any of its earlier and later incarnations. The notable detail is an ambient style soundtrack ranged from dark and atmospheric tracks to an arguably nightmarish ones.
Death from Above: Air Strikes, Napalm Strikes, Mail Strikes, Flaming Sheep Strikes, Carpet Bombs, Concrete Donkeys. There are plenty.
Death Is Cheap: Fallen worms are back for the next battle as if nothing had happened. Even in campaign mode, the whole team is back for any following cutscene and the next battle in the story, even if only one worm survived.
Disaster Dominoes: Some of the most spectacular and memorable shots set off chain reactions of exploding barrels, crates, mines, etc., killing worms which then explode, setting off more barrels...
The "Bow 'n' Arrow" scheme is this personified. Played on maps that resemble giant pachinko boards with mines on all the dots not occupied by worms, players shoot at the mines with bows and arrows to send them flying. Maybe the mine will take out the worm you want. Maybe it'll miss everything. But most likely the chain reaction will take out half of the worms on the map, including several from your own team.
Disc One Nuke: Players will often use the Ninja Rope item to grab crates and boxes with powerful weapons early in the game, though the AI can do this as well.
The "reckless" AI in Reloaded will make careless and often suicidal decisions if it means doing damage.
There's also the Sheep Launcher in Armageddon.
Exploding Barrels: Full of napalm in the second generation games, full of poison in Worms 4: Mayhem, just generically explosive in other games.
Exploited Immunity: Some games have Armageddon; an indiscriminate meteor storm that targets the whole map. It can be used to invoke this trope if you've prepared a lot of girders and/or dug your team deeply into the ground.
Enough to Go Around: Many of the superweapons are like this, where uses are 'in' crates that anyone can grab.
Face Palm: In Worms Reloaded, worms will smack themselves in the face when they hurt themselves.
Improbable Aiming Skills: AI driven worms throwing Grenades down a shaft so that it bounces off of an object, rolls up a crater and gets lodged inbetween your worm and a wall half a second before exploding is not uncommon. The improved AI in Worms Reloaded plus the fact that grenades stop dead when they roll into a worm makes this more common.
The "Cocky" AI in Worms Reloaded does this on purpose. It chooses to do the most difficult (but still viable) shots possible in order to show off.
Not Dragon Ball (which resembles a Kamehameha ki wave), at least not in the way you expect. Dragon Ball was basically unknown in the United Kingdom until around the release of Worms Armageddon. As stated in Shout-Out below, it's named after the Fireball and Dragon Punch moves in Street Fighter (there's another unarmed combat move called Fire Punch which supports this).
Many voice bank settings have the worms shout "Hadoken" and "Shoryuken" when using said attacks. However some of the non-street fighting referring ones tend to be funnier, due to accents.
Large Ham: The Thespian voice set, which is basically worms trained in classical acting. Has gems such as "FEEL THE POINT OF MY RAPIER, YOU SCOUNDREL!" for damaging an enemy worm, "'ZOUNDS! I AM UNDONE!" as a death quote and the randomly said "A DONKEY, A DONKEY, MY KINGDOM FOR A DONKEY!" , a Richard III quote rendered in-context.
The donkey quote above is used when picking up non-health crates, even when said crates contain an actual concrete donkey.
Lock and Load Montage: A trailer, released way-back-when, displayed a Worm spending a good thirty seconds grabbing weapons from the wall and loading up, before turning to menace the camera... only to tremble then collapse under the weight of all the weaponry.
It was also the intro of the first game on PlayStation.
Magic Bullet: Available as a weapon. Much more reliable than the homing missile and the homing pigeon.
Magikarp Power: Everything you consider useless as a weapon - because in worms, there is actually no such thing as a useless weapon.
Major Injury Underreaction: At least in WA, worms have two different animations that play some random time after receiving damage - one being waving their fist angrily, and the other being an annoyed side glance. The first animation plays when the worms receives enough damage, while the second plays when the worms receives very little damage or just under the arbitrary limit. Since each shotgun shot deals maximally 25 points of damage, and the minimum for the first animation seems to be either 26 or 30, worms usually react to being shot with a shotgun with an annoyed side glance. It gets even more ridiculous if you shoot them twice, resulting in them losing 50 points of damage - the first animation will play if you shoot them fast enough not to let them play the second animation, but otherwise, they'll just make the second animation after each shot. Considering that worms usually have 100 points of health, it comes out as "Oh, I just lost half of my health. Annoying."
Making a Splash: Revolution has a few weapons that create "dynamic water," which acts much differently than the water at the bottom of each map. Dynamic water can also be randomly generated in a map.
Mission Pack Sequel: Worms World Party. In all fairness it added a few new modes and restored a number of Worms 2 features that had been left out from Worms Armageddon, but a lot of buyers felt cheated afterwards.
My Brain Is Big: Scientist worms in Worms Revolution have enlarged craniums.
Nerf Arm: As a rule of thumb, the more unlikely a weapon sounds, the more powerful it will be.
Nice Hat: In some games you can slap on helmets, beanies, paper bags and cement mixers on your worms.
Non Sequitur: The 'Cricket' soundbank adds completely unrelated comments to the end of its cricket phrases, such as commenting on a lovely flock of birds or informing the player the worm likes wine before blowing themselves up.
Not the Fall That Kills You: Worms will take damage if they strike the landscape at a fast enough speed, and if this happens to the active worm, the turn will end... except with some transport tools.
Oh Crap: Worms will respond to timed explosives that are a second from going off.
In Reloaded, they actually scream whenever they see it coming.
Plot What Plot: Worms are trying to kill each other with nasty weapons. Why? Who knows? More to the point, who cares?
Power-Up: Many, such as Double Damage, extra superweapons and health.
Preorder Bonus: Worms Reloaded comes with extra maps, bonus hats, a discounted price and early access for preorders. There was also an exclusive hat for the Soldier in Team Fortress 2, the Lumbricus Lid that replaced his usual grenades with Holy Hand Grenades. It even plays the same Halelujah sound clip should you perform the suicide taunt with The Equalizer.
Those who preorder Worms Revolution on Steam get Worms Armageddon. Oh yeah, and hats, gravestones and such.
Priceless Ming Vase: Like everything else, the vase explodes. More specifically, it is a mine-like weapon which yields a very large explosion after 5 seconds and sends shrapnel everywhere. Then the shrapnel explodes too.
Randomly Drops: All sorts of weapons, items and even health pickups can be randomly dropped in crates scattered around the map.
Raymanian Limbs: Worms' hands ever since the third generation and onward. Furthermore, they disappear when not in use. Worms 3D in particular played with this in the cut-scenes where worms would be knocked away by something but their limbs would stay, moving around as if still attached.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: To quote the song Wormsong '95 - "It was all too much for Boggy as he watched his best friend die. His heart filled with rage, and he gripped his rifle tight. Charging down the hill, he had to have revenge. What had Spadge done to come to such an end?"
The beta demo of the game made it even more blatant as it just called them 'Dragon Punch' and 'Fireball' before they were swapped around for the actual release.
One of the voice packs even says "Saiyouken!" when the Dragon Punch is used.
The Priceless Ming Vase references an ancient comedy trope, French and Indian Nuclear Tests, Mad Cows, and most of the Strike weapons (particularly the French Sheep Strike, with its burning lorry...) also shout out to other events, things and tropes.
The two main playstyles of "Lightsiding" and "Darksiding" reference, of course, Star Wars. (The styles seem inverted: in Star Wars, Light Side fighting is mainly defensive while in Worms, Lightsiding is offensive; with the Dark Side seeming vice versa. However, what the two Dark Sides have in common is that they engage in tactics that can be seen as sneaky/cowardly. So in Worms, Light vs Dark is more of a case of overt versus covert.)
There are Shout Outs just about everywhere in the Worms series, right down to the voice sets: "Formula 1" is the Worms doing the best impersonation their squeaky voices can handle of legendary British motor racing commentator Murray Walker. "There was definitely contact there!"
In the story of Worms 4, one of the levels includes a clock tower with a wire running down to two lamp posts, with a very familiar DeLorean beneath it. Through unknown circumstances, it's possible for the DeLorean to explode, leaving a pair of fire trails behind. The icing on the cake is that after completing the level, as part of the story you and your team travel back in time.
Stealth Pun: Homing pigeon. It's of course a type of a pigeon, but here it's also "homing" in a way a homing missile is.
Stuff Blowing Up: See Made of Explodium above. There's stuff you'd reasonably expect to explode, like grenades and bazooka rockets. Then there are sheep, bananas, pigeons, carpets, concrete donkeys, more sheep, cows, envelopes, and grannies. Shoot a supply crate and it explodes. Kill a Worm and it explodes, leaving behind a small gravestone which given enough provocation also explodes.
This is also the only reason why an entire team can get wiped out with one prod. That and really lucky placement.
of course, if you're being skipped over water, odds are you're flying off the side of the level...
This becomes incredibly annoying because your worm could still be half-submerged and still alive after an attack, and then immediately dies when you make any sort of move because they're pinned on a slippery cliff, thus wasting a turn.
Revolution has both the above and an aversion: dynamic water merely acts like poison, chipping away the health of worms in it at the end of a turn.
Spotlight-Stealing Title: The spin-off Worms Pinball was originally named Addiction Pinball on its PC release before being renamed for the PlayStation port.
Take That: The Nuclear Bomb in Worms 2 plays La Marseillaise before causing the level to sink. The French nuclear test becomes an Indian Nuclear Test in later games.
The classic Teleport lets worms move almost anywhere on the map, but immediately ends their turn when used.
Reloaded's Emergency Teleport warps every worm on a team to a random spot on the map.
Revolution introduced the Teleswap, which lets worms switch places without using up a turn.
Clan Wars introduced the Teleport Gun, which allows worms to shoot a spot on the map and immediately warp there without wasting a turn.
Theme Tune: Wormsong, written by Bjorn Lynne. Three versions of it - Wormsong '95 from the original, Wormsong '98 from Worms Armageddon and Wormsong '03 from Worms 3D - have lyrics and little stories to go with them.
This Banana Is Armed: Every version starting with Armageddon has had a number of silly weapons, the sillier the more dangerous. Including a literal Banana Bomb (a Banana as a Cluster Bomb but stronger).
This Is Gonna Suck: When a worm is about to get royally fucked by a weapon, they'll nervously say something like, "Oh dear!"
Title Drop: The Armageddon weapon in Worms: Armageddon.
Too Dumb to Live: The worms have no sense of fighting back or fleeing when they're attacked.
Trash Talk: If you screw up a shot, expect other worms to point out your stupidity. "OI, NUTTA!". They'll also chew you out for skipping turns or running out of your turn time. "BORING!"
Trope Codifier: For Artillery-style turn-based strategy. Despite being preceded by a number of similar games, newer games with a similar style of play (such as Hogs Of War) are inevitably knows as "Worms clones".