Gaming Memories – Worms.

Worms (PlayStation 1, 1995)

Worms is a game that has a rather strange idea. Teams take part in strategically throwing various weapons at one another to try and eliminate their rivals – but they’re all worms! Who would’ve thought that they all would be so violent? They have all suddenly turned on one another and this was just one of the ideas that made the game so creative.

Each team consists of four worms, and up to four teams can play at once so there can be a maximum of 16 players on the screen. You can also select the name of your team and its members and I enjoyed putting silly-named teams together as much as playing the game which really adds a more enjoyable edge to it. vlcsnap-01658

When the game begins all of the worms are randomly placed on a playing area and then they are encouraged to take it in turns to try and eliminate the others in a limited amount of time against the clock, with everyone starting with 100 points of energy. Another funny thing about the game was the creative variety of weapons that could be used. vlcsnap-01659

Among these were banana bombs that always had to potential to do a lot of damage and eliminate lots of worms at once, although you only had a limited number of times you could use them. You could also use things like Uzis to blast a rival, and most memorably of all, an exploding sheep. If you began to get stuck though boxes were occasionally dropped down which contained extra weapons. vlcsnap-01660

It was always a satisfying moment when you took out a lot of rival worms in one go, and they would always rather worryingly explode and turn into a gravestone as they became an ex-worm. There were lots of funny sound effects and voice clips too. The game continued until there was only one worm or one team of worms remaining, and then after the game ended all the statistics were shown so you could discover which worm on your team was a mean killing machine. vlcsnap-01661

I enjoyed Worms so much that I had the original version on the Nintendo Game Boy, and I also had the PlayStation 1 version which was one of the first games that I got for that console. Worms was also released on other consoles including the Sega Mega Drive. I also bought the sequels Worms Armageddon and Worms World Party which I thought were great too, and in more recent years there have been many more variations released. vlcsnap-01662

Having a look at some reviews from the time it seems that Worms drew a mixed response from critics, mostly based on how funny you found the idea of worms slapping or bombing one another, but I always enjoyed playing it myself as I like quirky games and it was one of the reasons why I became fond of the PlayStation 1 in the late-90s.

Gaming Memories – Kirby’s Pinball Land.

Kirby’s Pinball Land (Nintendo Game Boy, 1993)

Over the years there have been several attempts by games companies to create successful characters that can become mascots for the various consoles that they appear on. When it comes to Nintendo of course most people think of Super Mario first, but another character that I used to like was Kirby. vlcsnap-01597

When I was younger I tried to collect lots of games featuring Kirby. Because Kirby was a rather strange-looking large pink thing someone clearly thought that it would be a good idea to create a Kirby game where the main character is also the ball in a pinball machine, and Kirby’s Pinball Land must have been one of the games that I played the most on my Game Boy in the 90s. vlcsnap-01598

When you start the game you are given a choice of three tables to play on, either Wispy Woods, Whacko, or Poppy Bros. Once you enter the table each one is made up of three screens, and as you score points the idea is using the flippers to try to get Kirby up to the top screen to take on the main boss. However, if he falls out of the bottom screen you do get a chance to propel him back, but if you fail you lose a life. vlcsnap-01602

As well as this, there are also bonus games to play against the clock. In these you can score lots of points, earn more bonuses, and even earn extra lives. For every half a million points you score a special screen appears to congratulate you. There are also lots of other ways to score bonuses and get extra points and after a while you can get a really big score. 


You must be wary when playing the bosses though because they can occasionally stop one of your flippers from working and need to be hit several times to be defeated. If you manage to achieve defeating all three bosses of the three tables, you enter the big final challenge against Kirby’s biggest rival King Dedede. If you defeat the King then you see a special ending screen as Kirby celebrates, then you have the chance to go back to playing the tables for even more points. vlcsnap-01601

Kirby’s Pinball Land was a great game and I do feel that this character deserves more recognition, although it seems that the game was fairly well-received by gamers and critics at the time of release. My dad also liked to play this game and achieving eight-figure scores was seemingly no problem for him. In later years I bought a couple more great Kirby games on the Game Boy and Super Nintendo and I’ll be reviewing another one of those soon.

Gaming Memories – Tetris Attack.

Tetris Attack (Nintendo Game Boy, 1996)

After writing about my memories of Tetris last time, here’s a look back at a variation on that classic game that I have also enjoyed. Tetris Attack was another Game Boy game where you had to line up the blocks to eliminate them and score points, but there were several variations on this. The game also featured various characters from the Super Mario Brothers series to encourage you along such as Yoshi. vlcsnap-01517

There are five different modes to play, the first mode endless. You have lots of squares on the screen which contain different shapes in them. You have to move the cursor using the directional buttons to create three squares with the same shape connecting either horizontally or diagonally to make them disappear and score points. vlcsnap-01523

Because the shapes scroll on the screen rather slowly at first, you can use the B button to make them appear quicker, but when your squares are one row away from going off the top of the screen which will end your game, they start bouncing up and down and the music gets more intense so you must act quickly to rescue your game. As you progress the speed of the shapes appearing increases so you have to keep going for as you as you can. vlcsnap-01519

One of the things that I like most about Tetris Attack is that when you link three squares which disappear, if the remaining ones drop down and create a link too you get a bonus, and if you can move the squares quickly enough you can set off a chain reaction which gives you a really high score. vlcsnap-01520

There is also a time trial mode where you have to score as many points as possible in two minutes which was always a good challenge. I also liked puzzle mode where you had to clear the screen of all the squares in a limited number of moves. As the levels progress this gets much harder and I spent a lot of time playing this mode. There was also a stage clear mode where you had to eliminate a particular number or squares to progress to the next level. vlcsnap-01521

Finally there was the versus mode. You play against a computer opponent, there are two bars. You have to empty yours to defeat the character by creating chain reactions. They make it harder for you by having a bar which when it fills up every time makes them drop more squares on you. There are various modes of difficulty and if you can defeat the final character which was Bowser then you win the game. vlcsnap-01522

Tetris Attack was one of my favourite puzzle games to play when I was younger, and I must have easily played it as much as the original Tetris and Tetris DX. Even when recently watching various clips that have been uploaded online of people playing the game still got me pleased when they had a big-scoring chain reaction and all kinds of weird things started to happen on the screen, and there was also a version released for the SNES. Also around this time I used to enjoy another spin-off called Tetris Blast and I’ll be writing about that next time.

Gaming Memories – Tetris.

Tetris (Nintendo Game Boy, 1989)

When the Game Boy launched in 1989 one of the first games to be made available was the puzzle game Tetris, which went on to become one of the most successful games of its era, and almost everyone who owned a Game Boy had a copy as it was an essential purchase. Tetris is one of the best examples of a game that is easy to play which becomes much more challenging as you progress. vlcsnap-01513

Now because Tetris is such a famous game I don’t really need to explain how it works, you just need to connect the various shapes together to make lines disappear and keep going for as long as possible until you run out of space on the screen. There are two modes, one where you try to get the highest score that you can, with shapes dropping quicker as you progress, and the other is where you need to create lines and you can choose the speed at which the shapes drop and how many shapes are already on the screen when you begin. You can also turn the shapes round and drop them quicker using the various buttons. vlcsnap-01515

I always used to enjoy playing Tetris, it really is a game where you always fancy another go and it’s the perfect example of where the gameplay is really challenging against the somewhat basic graphics. One thing that I always found odd was the weird noise when you did manage to get four lines in one go and create a Tetris, it made me jump. vlcsnap-01514

As well as me, my dad also liked to play Tetris. Now he isn’t exactly a serious gamer, but he was able to complete level 9:5 high which is the toughest possible level as the shapes fall very fast, which is more than I could ever do, and upon completion there are some rather wild celebrations on the screen. vlcsnap-01512

One way of measuring Tetris‘s popularity was when in 1992 a dance version of the famous theme music by Doctor Spin was released which made the top ten. This was an odd time where for a while computer game themes were hit singles, with the theme to Super Mario Brothers also making the top ten in that year. 12804-raw

As the years went by Tetris remained popular and is one of the main reasons why the Game Boy ended up being a very successful handheld console. In 1998 when the Game Boy Color was launched a new version of Tetris called Tetris DX was released and this was also great. It featured a few new modes including a time trail where you had to score as many points as you could in three minutes, and also a mode where you had to eliminate 40 lines as quickly as possible, and if you did get a Tetris, everything changed colour! vlcsnap-01516

There have been several versions of Tetris released on various consoles throughout the years and among those are Tetris Attack and Tetris Blast, which are great variations on the original which I also very much enjoyed playing on the Game Boy in the 90s and I’ll be writing about those on here soon.

Gaming Memories – Zoop.

Zoop (Nintendo Game Boy, 1995)

I got a Nintendo Game Boy in 1994. And a year later I got a Super Nintendo for Christmas along with a Super Game Boy! This was where you could play your Game Boy games on your SNES and they would have various extra colours and backgrounds. I never used to read games magazines at this time, so I bought all the Game Boy games that I had without knowing much about them, but because I do like the puzzle genre I decided to try Zoop as that seemed an interesting idea. vlcsnap-01506

There are two modes, continuous and level. In continuous mode when you complete a level everything stays on the screen and you carry on, in level mode every time you complete a level everything disappears on the screen and you start the next one from scratch. You can also choose which level you want to start on from 1-9 and the difficulty from 0-4 which determines how much is on the screen when you begin. vlcsnap-01507

The idea of the game is that you are in a 4×4 square and you occupy one of the spaces. To your left and right are six spaces, and above and below are five. You use the directional buttons to move your square to eliminate the ones surrounding you, but only the ones that you touch which are the same colour as your square will disappear. vlcsnap-01509

This means that you have to constantly change your square to eliminate the others, and you have to get so many to complete a level. You also score points based on how many squares you can eliminate in one go, with different sound effects for one, two, three and so on disappearing, with a bonus for eliminating a whole line of the same colour in one move. vlcsnap-01508

There are also bonuses on offer as the game progresses. If you collect five springs it removes every single square on the screen which can be useful. There is also a shape which eliminates every square of that colour whether it is in the line or not, and another which eliminates the whole line even if all the squares are different colours. vlcsnap-01510

As you progres you need to eliminate more squares and they appear on the screen quicker. When one line is one space away from entering your area you will hear a buzz noise which indicates that you will have to remove those quickly. When a space finally enters your area because it is full up it’s the end of the game and your final score is revealed. vlcsnap-01511

Zoop is a game that I remember playing on my Game Boy very often throughout the 90s, and there were several versions released on various formats. Although it seems that Zoop wasn’t a huge success and received average reviews I did find it a challenging puzzler which had a good idea. I’ll be reviewing some more memorable Game Boy games here soon.