Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Willy the Worm

Because graphics are boring.

Willy the Worm, a not-so-brilliant title for a very brilliant 1985 DOS game. It's optimised for colour monitors!

Similar in nature to Donkey Kong or Jumpman, Willy the Worm stars a worm called Willy running, jumping and climbing ladders in a bid to reach the top of the screen. It's a standard platforming affair - collecting presents adds to your score, completing the level in a fast time gives you bonus points, and avoiding boulders and spikes will keep you alive. There are collapsible floors and springs to contend with, and your mission is to ring a bell before being allowed to progress to the next stage. Simple.

Now sure, there are dozens of games like these on early computers, and I'm not here to pretend that Willy the Worm isn't extremely dated and largely unappealing to the masses. However, setting aside the graphical limitations this is a fully playable and entertaining release from Alan Farmer. Vast chunks of the DOS library at this point were pretty awful, and this breaks the mould.

What's more, Willy the Worm will run on just about any IBM PC imaginable (though you'll obviously need DOSBox to get it working on modern machines). I'm running this in a colour CGA mode, but WtW will boot just fine in black and white, or in ASCII form for the MDA or Hercules fans. It may not be as nice on the eyes, but it's just as playable as many of the early arcade classics.

Obviously there are some problems. Even with DOSBox adjustments the speed fluctuates between stupidly fast and painfully slow, and there are a lot of nasty parts to the level design. Colour essentially equates to "blue and white" (as opposed to black and white) and you're not going to get groundbreaking audio from this thing, but 34kB is hardly a strain on a modern system and Willy the Worm is easy to find and download. There was also a sequel in 1987 - Willy the Worm Part II: The Journey Home.

Personally I love little games like these. There's only eight levels and it won't appeal to everybody, but if you were ever in the mood to purchase an IBM PC 5150 or something similar, I'd highly recommend this one for your collection.

1 comment:

  1. Hy ! Do you know how reaching the bell when being at the 3rd level ? I can't get it !