Worms: A Space Oddity

Soon, a similar scene will be played out in Wii-enabled parties across the length and breadth of the land. That familiar "your turn!" chime rings out from a remote somewhere near the punch bowl, and out oozes Cuthbert Pythagoras-on-the-Horse (the real name of your local sap may vary). You might remember this odious little swot as the guy who ruined your Christmas party's Wii Sports tournament. This he did by eschewing all that jumping and grunting in favor of a vantage point in the middle of the sofa, upon which the joyless twit proceeded to pick apart his opponents using a series of flicks measurable in nanometers. He's the one who doesn't "get" the Wii, you know?

This time, however, it's Worms: A Space Oddity whirling away in the Wii's big blue mouth. With smugness he wriggles his spineless avatar up alongside an opposing worm, taps the minus button to bring up the weapon menu, and selects the dragon punch. Following the on-screen prompt to make an "uppercut" motion with the remote, he lets rip with a timid jab that wouldn't bruise a guinea pig. To his dismay, this tepid display is reflected on screen by a weedy poke which barely scrapes the opposing worm. It's the other guy's turn now, and he unleashes an earth-destroying sho-ryu-ken motion that, in turn, launches Cuth's worm into orbit. It eventually lands on the other side of the map, careening into his teammates, who all tumble into a waiting swamp. Back in the room, Cuth, still stunned, somehow gets a really bad papercut - in his eye - and then falls over.

All of which explains how Worms: A Space Oddity's big "thing" - that all the weapons are activated by motions and gestures - makes a difference to the age-old Worms template. Ostensibly just a gimmicky addition to what at first glance is a reskinned Worms: Open Warfare (and it's nice to see a 2D Worms game reappear on the big screen, isn't it?), what it adds in practice is a gameplay mechanic that rewards effort, vigor and a willingness to make a fool out of yourself.

A Space Oddity takes place over six themed planets (including Earth), each with their own gravity fields and environmental decorations. There's also a basic level editor packaged in, but you can't send them to your friends over Wi-Fi. Oh dear. When will someone NOT think of the children? If you're one of those people who find there just aren't enough minigames on Wii, you'll find yourself well served with a selection of six here, each one a riff of an arcade "classic". But that's where the cynicism ends, because as it turns out, they're all really rather quite good fun.