Worm War I

Worm War I
Company: 20th Century Fox (Sirius)
Model #:
David Lubar
Year: 1982
Developed by Sirius


Worm War I is a quirky little shooter that was programmed by the legendary David Lubar while he was at Sirius.  Dave is one of the few programmers to create games throughout the 2600’s lifespan starting with Worm War I in 1982 all the way up through 1990 when he programmed Sentinel for Imagineer.  Dave worked as a freelancer and did contract work for several companies including Sirius (games published through 20th Century Fox and Spectravision), Activision, and Imagineering (games published through Atari and HES).


Giant worms have invaded the peaceful city of Teriyaki, and it’s up to you to destroy them all and save the day.  How does one destroy giant worms you ask?  With a big tank!  You control a tank that is situated at the bottom of the screen and must blast all the worms that get in your way as the screen scrolls downward.  You can control the speed of the screen scroll by pressing up and down, but it will always scroll as there’s just no stopping your giant tank.  Depending on the variation you’re playing you may also notice giant blocks appearing in your way (option 1 has blocks, while option 2 has no blocks), these blocks can be blasted just like worms.  Hitting a worm or a block will cost you 5 to 10 units of fuel as will moving forward (1 unit per wall segment).


Thankfully there’s a way to restore your fuel.  After shooting all the worms that appear on the screen (up to six at higher levels) a Pagoda Gas station will appear.  If you drive through the gas station you will recover 1 to 12 units of gas (the amount is determined by how fast you drive through it).  However if you’re in danger of getting swamped by worms you can also shoot the gas station to blow up everything on the screen.  Of course doing this costs you your chance to refuel so this should only be done as a last resort.  If you’re having trouble with the difficulty there are some options that can be adjusted with the difficulty switches.  The left difficulty switch controls the worm movement (A is random and B is fixed) while the right difficulty switch controls how quickly the tank can slow down (A makes the tank brake slower while B makes the tank brake faster).  If you’re feeling up to the challenge, selecting option 3 will make all the worms invisible except when there are explosions.  Oh and there are also blocks in the way just for good measure.  Combine option three with both switches in the A position and you have the makings of one challenging game.


Being one of Dave’s earliest games, Worm War I seems rather primitive compared to his later efforts and one might be quick to dismiss it as just another ‘mindless 2600 shooter’.  While the game play is fairly simplistic (shoot things and don’t run out of fuel), it’s amazing what Dave was able to accomplish in only 4K or ROM space.  In order to make enough room for everything Dave had to get a bit creative and save space where he could.  One of these space saving tricks involved the graphics for the worms spawning.  If you take a close look you’ll notice that they’re rather odd looking blocks of random pixels.  This is because the game is actually reading program code instead of graphics code.  Dave admitted that he didn’t have enough space for actual spawning graphics so he cheated and made his own ‘graphics’ from random code.  Yars Revenge used a similar technique to create the graphics for the neutral zone.  Incidentally in case you’re wonder, although the game calls itself Worm War I there was never any sequel planned.


Version Cart Text Description
Worm War I Demo Copy Not For Sale
Final version


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