Worms Pinball or when the Dreamcast
makes a tilt!
In 1994, the developers of the British studio Team17 invented a game with a completely crazy concept that was to be a runaway success: Worms. The principle was simple: overarmed earthworms had to exterminate each other in a limited time on randomly generated maps.
Since then, the game’s potential has been fully realised. Worms was a well-oiled machine that became very lucrative. To this day, which console hasn't had a Worms game?
Worms, by seducing several generations of players, has become a video game legend.
The development of Worms Pinball
Three Team17 games will be released on Dreamcast: Worms Armagedon, Worms World Party and Stunt GP (a game that will suffer from the studio's restructuring). WWP even offered the possibility of 6 billion players, according to the slogan of Sega's advertisements for the launch of the console, to compete online.
Cris Blyth (Additional Art) : «I was involved in some of the graphic design and box design for Worms Pinball and Addiction Pinball. I wanted the box to have a classic chrome pinball look and I am happy with the result.»
Concepts from Patrick Romano's work on the Worms franchise by Team17 studio. These artworks date from 2001-2002 and have nothing to do with Worms Pinball.
A fourth title, a pinball simulation featuring mischievous earthworms - a surprising spin-off of the franchise - was planned for Sega's latest console. Infogrames, in charge of its publishing, finally decided to cancel the Dreamcast port as its development was close to being finalised.
«There were many reasons why the game wasn't released, and I think at the time it was a combination of the cost of producing and distributing the game with the potential loss of revenue due to the relatively small number of consoles available. I also think there was a licensing cost issue.»
Because it's Worms Pinball Dreamcast that we're talking about in this article, a title that lucky owners of a Playstation 1 and a PC had already been able to discover in 1999. Better late than never, right?
«It was a tricky time for Team17, as they were growing and trying to capitalise on the success of the Worms licence.»
Worms Pinball Dreamcast in video
Everything was based on the same code as the PC version because Worms Pinball is in fact a Dreamcast port (under Windows CE) of Pinball Addiction on PC.
«The tables on Addiction Pinball were really examined and approved by the Pinball Owners Association, which was a lot of work to get approved. The team did a massive dive into what makes a 'good' table and made some interesting developments.»
Pinball Addiction was designed with great passion by Stephan Boberg (code) and Tony Senghore (art). According to Patrick Romano (Original Rally Fever Character Design), it is probably one of the best '2D' pinball simulations. It is, for him, not in the spirit of Devil Crash Megadrive/PC Engine but it was extremely well done.
When Worms Pinball was ported to the Dreamcast, the development team was thinking of adding 3D animations and updating the voices. The idea was to modernise the game, unfortunately this will not be the case.
«There was talk of putting in the original Worms animations and updating them to have more pinball references, but this would take longer and cost more.»
Originally it was planned to include a pinball table based on Alien Breed, another successful Team17 game released on the Amiga in 1991. For some unknown reason, these plans were scrapped.
The two pinball tables were entirely modelled on Alias (a product modelling, surfacing and visualisation tool) running on Silicon Graphics workstations (workstations dedicated to computer graphics, 3D, video processing and high performance computing), a substantial investment for the time. The code itself demonstrated all the rigour that Boberg could demonstrate (ultra-realistic physical simulation).
Animated Team17 logo
Advertising flyers for Worms Pinball Dreamcast and PS1
Addiction Pinball PC cover by Cris Blyth
My record is 791.000.000 on the Worms table in normal, who will beat me?
It is possible that Addiction Pinball started its life cycle as an unfinished project, cancelled in 1994, planned for the Amiga. It was then called Team17 Pinball.
Pinball machines come from another time, a time when teenagers wore leather jackets, had long hair, wore cowboy boots and scoured the local bars, squandering their parents' money in the hope of impressing the crowd with a high score! Did scoring work to get high school girls excited?
I was at rest I was at peace (J'étais tranquille j'étais peinard)
Leaning on the pinball machine (Accoudé au flipper)
The guy walked into the bar (Le type est entré dans le bar)
Ordered a ham and butter (A commandé un jambon beurre)
And he came up to me (Et y s'est approché de moi)
And he looked at me like this (Et y m'a regardé comme ça)
Sorry, the opportunity to place these lyrics from the song "Laisse béton" by Renaud was too tempting (Renaud is a famous French singer)!!!
Let's not even talk about the gloomy arcades whose cigarette smoke made your eyes cry, the dedicated terminals burnt by cigarette butts crushed into the wood of the arcade machines, the soles of the shoes sticking to the ground soaked by hectoliters of beer. Nostalgia is what you want and you have to find a way to document (furnish) a pinball game!
Icon of the VMU
Save icon of a Worms jumping for fun in front of a pinball machine!
The popularity of pinball has led many development studios to create pinball simulations. Gameplay phases where levels from famous games like Sonic Megadrive have taken on the mechanics of pinball. It's a separate genre, but there's nothing better than playing it on a real vintage ball machine. Trying out a pinball simulation is still an unusual exercise on a console, reserved for a very special audience.
Patrick Romano : «The video game market at that time was quite different from today. Things were done more by enthusiasm than by market research as it is the case, to an extreme excess, nowadays. So this notion of niche didn't really exist, even if things changed very quickly after...»
Worms eis an exceptional game, funny and original. It has all the qualities that make it a must-have title. Discovering a pinball game with these little warrior worms was a surprise even if you maybe felt the franchise was getting a bit stale at that point.
Infogrames had understood the success of both pinball machines and Worms and tried to restart the worm wars in a pinball simulation. The story remained the same, namely to kill as many opponents as possible but this time with a virtual metal ball.
The best of all bonus "Airstrike"
Pinball table "Worms"
Pinball table "World Rally Fever"
Worms Pinball has two pinball boards, Worms and World Rally Fever. The World Rally Fever table refers to a car racing simulation of the same name, released in 1996 on DOS. The ramps and bumpers are then used as tricks to use various weapons in Worms or to complete a lap in World Rally Fever.
The two pinball machines include the most classic game modes (X2, Saved Ball, Multiballs, etc.) as well as more original and humorous modes in the Worms style (Worms-Fu, Mars Attack, etc.). Despite the single view, the boards are rather pretty and shine with a thousand lights. The balls react well and do not pose any problems.
The objective on the Worms table is to collect weapons, win victories and complete missions to get a higher bonus. By collecting enough bonuses, the player gets a promotion. There is a cave that opens, which will give random bonuses as well as mini-games that are played on the LED (this computer game screen can be moved and its resolution changed from the pause menu). These mini-games include guiding a super sheep with pinball triggers to collect point balloons in the air before crashing into a worm to get a 10,000,000 point bonus. There is also a card shuffle game,which is similar to a three-card Monte, for a further 35,000,000 points.
The World Rally Fever table is more simplistic. You will have to hit ramps to earn combos or shoot into the finish line in the middle to complete a lap. A shop will open which will allow you to choose bonuses or mini-games, like a police chase for example.
If the content is poor, only 2 pinball tables (the big flaw of the game), they are fortunately very complete and will require many hours and attempts to unlock all the bonuses.
Admittedly, after a few hours, Worms Pinball is no longer very amusing. The game lacks an extra pinball table . In the end, the game is still a good romp and deserves to be played just to shoot down some worms between two copious meals!
Beware of the TILT!!!
You can download the Worms Pinball Dreamcast (GDI) build below
It is complicated to create a functional CDI on a real Dreamcast. The game contains 43 tracks and was designed under Windows CE. We can't offer you to burn your own discs, we're sorry.
Homemade cover by Benedikt Scheffer for Worms Pinball to download:
Download the archive containing the Worms Pinball homemade cover
Open the PDF file then print it at 100% size
Cut the front and back covers along the dark squares
Things to know about the Dreamcast version:
If you want to play it on an emulator, Flycast does not load the pinball tables (black screen). You have to run it on DEmul to enjoy the game.
The save system is operational. The game requires 6 free blocks on the VMU (an animated image designed for this purpose had been created).
In game, the memory card has its own icon that simply says "Worms Pinball".
I would like to thank Cris Blyth and Patrick Romano: for their availability, their kindness and for taking the time to answer my questions. Their testimonies allow us to go back in time to the development of Worms Pinball (Addiction Pinball)
I would like to thank all the team involved in the Worms Pinball project (Mobygames).
Special thanks to:
Benedikt Scheffer for the creation of the cover of Worms Pinball Dreamcast
Vince for the English translation of the article
Jerome Firon for the correction of the text in French.
the people who helped financially to acquire the prototype
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