Death WormPrice: $0.99     Score: 8/10    Category: Games

The case of Death Worm by Play Creek is an interesting one. Though it was released by JTR on PC long ago, its iPhone thunder was stolen by the excellent 8-bit throwback Super Mega Worm, which had a nice run on the App Store just a couple months back.

Unfortunately, while it’s technically the older game, the timing Death Worm’s release has some mistakenly crying, “Copy cat!” However, Death Worm deserves attention not only for the visual polish that differentiates it from Super Mega Worm, but also its superior gameplay. And for under a dollar, it’s worth taking the worm for another ride.

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In Death Worm, you control the giant, man-eating worm as he burrows beneath the earth and emerges above ground, eating and destroying everything in sight. Controls are handled via on-screen buttons: an analog stick to move direct your worm, a button to shoot fire, and a button to activate your special attack. As you progress through the game, meeting the criteria of each stage (ex: kill 60 in 160 seconds), you’ll be given the opportunity to make upgrades to your worm. These upgrades include thicker skin, making you more resistant to damage, an increased size, which makes you more formidable to the surface-dwellers, a more powerful special attack, and more. In addition, you will unlock additional levels and minigames.

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There are currently three different stages from which to choose, with more on the way, via updates. Death Worm also includes local leaderboards, as well as Game Center support, complete with achievements. These little touches certainly go a long way to boost replay value for the more competitive worm-wranglers out there.

The biggest difference between Death Worm and Super Mega Worm is in the presentation department. While Super Mega Worm went for a whimsical, retro flair, complete with pixel art and goofy dialog, Death Worm looks like a much more modern game. Graphically, it’s amazingly polished, and the game seems to go for more of a sci-fi thriller feel than campy 8-bit throwback. At times, however, the game zooms out a bit too far from the action, making it difficult to see exactly what you’re about to gobble up. This is especially noticeable when the worm’s special attack is activated. The camera backs way out as the worm shoots across the screen at lighting speed. This can make accuracy a problem, and before you know it your special attack has expired.

Bottom Line: Despite its unfortunate timing, Death Worm is the superior “Giant Monster Worm” game for iOS. And if you haven’t yet tried the competition, Death Worm is the better option.

Death Worm is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.