Team 17: Worming Their Way to New Horizons

These days, the giants of the gaming industry are competing to produce the most realistic experiences possible with the most cutting-edge tech – but not Team 17.

Technologies such as 4K and VR have been introduced to immerse the player in the world like never before, and publishers like Rockstar and Ubisoft are striving to increase the size of the in game map with more powerful consoles.

Games like No Man’s Sky and Grand Theft Auto have sought to push the boundaries of how vast and detailed a virtual landscape can be, to create a truly immersive, living virtual universe for the player to explore.

Foundations of Success

Whilst the possibilities of such virtual worlds is very exciting, the small British studio which goes by the name Team17 are going the other way – to great effect. For those unfamiliar, Team 17 is the studio behind the Alien Breed and Worms franchises. Worms alone has spawned 24 sequels, 7 spin offs and 8 off brand clones.
 

Worms is a highly successful franchise that has been the backbone of this small video game developer since its inception in 1995. The concept is very simple but fun, one that is accessible to players of all ability levels. The concept of the game is a turn-based combat system where 2-4 teams consisting of 4 worms each are dropped randomly into an environment – the last team standing wins.

The series offers a variety of weapons ranging from simple and effective range attacks such as the Bazooka to more quirky items such as Super Sheep and the Old Lady. The light-hearted approach to combat made Worms family friendly and the multiplayer was perfect for its time. You could invite friends or family over, and the four of you could take each other on with nothing but a single controller.

 

Looking to the Future

In recent years, Team 17 have enjoyed a resurgence and have released a number of new critically acclaimed games. In 2014 the studio put out The Escapists, a prison break simulator, where the player has to craft items and plan an escape.

There are numerous ways to escape each prison each with their own risk and reward. There are also dozens of items to find within the prison, most of which can be crafted into other items. You can steal and copy keys, dig a tunnel, head for the roof or simply cut the fence and run to freedom. The guards are constantly patrolling and you are expected to check in with them at certain times, so you have to be coy throughout.

 

The game is produced in an 8-bit style to give it a retro feel and maintains a lot of the fun the studio is famous for. Team 17 have managed to take the joy and simplicity from their original Worms games and apply it to a new format. The game had a sequel produced this year and introduced online multiplayer within the prisons. There are even more unique possibilities to escape and if you haven’t played it already we highly recommend it.

Following on from that another incredibly fun retro franchise came out of the studio in 2016: Overcooked. Overcooked is a multiplayer game where 2-4 players must cook and serve food order in increasingly ludicrous circumstances. Kitchen’s vary from pirate ships where the counters keep sliding around, to separate moving food trucks that each contain a part of the kitchen. Again it’s silly fun, but it is highly addictive and keeps that same appeal to gamers of all ages.

 

Team 17 also shown its interest in fostering the next generation of developers by picking up the kickstarter campaign for Yooka-Laylee, the spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. It’s another game that plays to that retro feel, in fact there are playable arcade machines within the game. The machines feature clones of classic titles, including a racing sim that bares resemblance to ATR a racing game released by Team 17 in their formative years.

Team 17 found a life after Worms, much like Naughty Dog, they have escaped their 90’s mascot and are thriving beyond them. New releases are successful both critically and financially and the studio is truly driving forward to exciting new horizons. The nourishment of fresh talent can only benefit the studio, as they stay true to their retro roots. Don’t expect to have seen the last of Worms, there’s surely more to come from the pint-sized soldiers but it’s exciting to see the team expanding to new areas.  

So, get out there, snag a title, and break your way into a worm-filled team deathmatch or out of a highly complex prison system.