'Worms' wiggles once again!

Worms 4: Mayhem, a DVD-ROM in English by Codemasters and Team 17, distributed with a 19-page Hebrew-language user's manual by Atari-Israel, requires W

worm disk 88 (photo credit: )
worm disk 88
(photo credit: )
Worms 4: Mayhem, a DVD-ROM in English by Codemasters and Team 17, distributed with a 19-page Hebrew-language user's manual by Atari-Israel, requires Windows 98 and up and a one gigahertz Pentium III PC or better, for ages five through adult, NIS 230. - Rating: ****1/2 These funny, squishy invertebrates have starred through almost 10 different editions of Worms, beginning as two-dimensional images and eventually graduating to 3-D, and they haven't been wiped out yet. This wacky new version, which offers the possibility of customizing your own good-guy and bad-guy teams of worms and producing a slew of new weapons, can't help but bring a smile to your face - even if childhood is long behind you. The new storyline is a bit lame: A professor at Worminkle University, who boasts a ring of white hair like Ben-Gurion's, has invented a time machine. His worm students go back to the prehistoric era, and they are stuck there when he abandons them. Some two dozen missions through various eras must be completed to dig the good worms out of the past. Teams of worms take turns trying to destroy the others. Select launched, thrown or airstrike categories of arms and then choose preposterous specific weapons such as bombs in the forms of skulls, bananas, old ladies, penguins and sheep (that explode into juicy lambchops) to be hurled at the enemy. Your Weapons Factory inventory appears on the screen with a click of your mouse. Customized teams can adopt the voices of gangsters, Scots, Germans, Spanish, Italians, French or a variety of other personae. You can dress your worms up with headwear of cavemen, bishops or punks; give them monocles, star glasses or night-vision gear; and attach a wide variety of comic moustaches. Even their hands, which are never attached to their bodies, can be decorated with a gamut of gloves. Other options are jet packs, sniper rifles and game styles including rising water, sudden death and telepads. Battles are a virtual Wormmageddon! When you win enough points, you can go to the Item Shop to buy new hats and other paraphernalia and receive awards at the trophy shop. The wackiness is supplemented by mission names that are plays on words, such as "Nice to Siege You." An on-disk tutorial, which explains how to make the most of options, is worth going through, especially if the players' level of English is not very high. A quick match option enables single players to battle against up to three teams controlled by the computer's artificial intelligence, while two to four teams controlled by human players can fight each other in front of one computer screen; there is also a multiplayer option for online play. Worms fans will excuse the graphics, which are far from state-of-the-art, because otherwise this is the best edition ever. It won't be easy to get them to wiggle away. Disney's Party Time With Winnie the Pooh, a CD-ROM in English by Disney Interactive, distributed with a 16-page Hebrew-language user's manual by Atari-Israel, requires Windows 95 and up and a 300 Mhz Pentium II PC or better, for ages 4 to 7, NIS 60. -Rating: ** Winnie the Pooh, a black bear cub named for the city of Winnipeg by Canadian infantry troops during World War I, was launched as the hero of a series of books for children by author A.A. Milne in 1926. Now, eight decades later, the character is still beloved, but this piece of software named for him seems quite tired and worn. Starring Piglet, Rabbit, Roo, Owl, Tigger and Pooh, the Disney action game offers poor graphics - making characters look as if they have been sat on by Dumbo the Elephant - and the games that comprise its entire content are too unimaginative to excite even preschoolers. The user's manual claims there is one big adventure plus five separate mini-games, but in fact, the "big adventure" contains the same mini-games but in one bloc. The young player selects one animal from among several and competes against the rest in dragging fruit into a certain basket or collecting the largest number of pumpkins. There's also a "flipper" game in which players on each side of a wood-framed table shift right or left or up and down with arrow keys and then lob balls through a specific goalpost. The game's responses to your actions are generally slow at whichever of the three levels of difficulties you choose. When you win, the animal who represents you will appear in an animation and bow. There are also short animations derived from a Disney cartoon that shows interactions among the animal characters. Make sure you want to complete a mini-game, as once you start one, you're stuck with it until you finish: If you press the ESC button in the middle, you're asked if you want to exit to Windows and are then ejected from the whole program. The main thing going for this old-fashioned game is that it is cheap, but reading an even less expensive Winnie the Pooh storybook with your child is a better investment.