Being a worldwide leader in experimental and applied physics, HARDONICS prides itself on its highest security standards to provide a safe work environment to the best scientists and engineers. But as they say ‘accidents do happen’ and so it is when one of the lab’s Professors successfully create a wormhole connected to a planet in the far distance of the universe. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of the alien planet are not friendly and have used the wormhole to start their takeover of the World while at the same time kidnapping the Professor. You have been employed to go in to eliminate the aliens and save the Professor so that he can shut the Wormhole down for good before more aliens use it to over run Earth.
Wormhole starts off with having our sole saviour being helicoptered into an area just outside the research facility. Once we land, the game starts off proper and we find that Wormhole looks to be a run’n’gun style of game and our task is to collect a key and reach the end of each level before our air counter dwindles down to zero, killing alien species along the way and avoiding the various hazards found within the research lab. Killing aliens adds to our cash points while collecting token icons count towards our bonus score. These two items together are combined to determine the salary points we earn during the game.
Our player carries a jetpack that will help us jump greater distances however it has a limited fuel capacity and we will have to collect fuel pack pick ups along the way to help us with our quest. Other pick ups found within the game include the ability to increase our vertical jumping range and bombs that can be used to drop on the alien scum. Along with the standard pistol and bombs, you can upgrade your weapon to a laser and a rocket launcher.
Losing a life, we are taken to the nearest checkpoint and as we continue on playing one thing I noticed was that aliens do not re-spawn when killed, which is a god send as Wormhole is a game that gets very challenging after the second level. In addition to the run’n’gun style action, Wormhole incorporates a strong platform jumping element to it and it is this part that provides the challenge.
The game has the option to allow you to set your own keyboard and joystick commands for in game functions, along with providing a built-in trainer allowing you to customise your gaming experience. But note, using a trainer disables the high score recording for the game.
Wormhole contains 15 levels in total spread out across three different environments and becoming familiar with the layout of the hazards will be a must as you try to pull off pixel perfect jumps on many occasions. Even with the infinite lives trainer enabled, I found progress being quite tough as my lack of timing meant that I would die over and over again. Things get ridiculously difficult when you get to the last level where you are trying to control your character and the Professor at the same time.
Everything within the game appears to move about quite well and the game graphics are quite vibrant. No doubt a number of the enemies and game environments will feel quite familiar as their design may have been inspired by a number of classic titles. Music soundtrack is very good, changing from one game world to another.
There is a lot on offer with Wormhole without necessarily introducing anything new. As such the game may be critiqued as being a rip off or a derivative of many other games. I personally don’t have an issue with this as long as it is done well, which I think Wormhole does pull off. Other than the lack of originality and the high difficulty setting, there is no much to fault the game, which makes Wormhole a quality title and welcome addition to the C64 library.
Game Link: Protovision
A fun and challenging platform shooter that offers a lot of gaming action, even if none of it is exactly original.
Retro gaming journalist promoting NEW C64, Amiga, Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum games. Runs the Retro Gamer Nation YouTube channel and is a contributor to RVG and Vintage is the New Old blog sites, Komoda & Amiga Plus magazine and various other publications.