A Far-From-Traditional Experience
Traditional Christmas games: who needs them? The internet is packed so full of festive flash games of such diversity that the word 'traditional' is becoming increasingly difficult to use with a straight face in while referring to them. Sitting a few miles over the border fence of 'traditional' (along with games like Santa Rockstar and Infectonator Xmas Special) is Effing Games' finest Christmas masterpiece yet: Effing Worms Xmas. Its core concept borrows not only heavily but entirely from previous Effing Worms titles, only with a dusty sprinkling of Christmas to kick things up to 'festive'. Destruction of everything above ground is your mission statement. Your objective? So cause enough destruction to make Santa Claus himself who's really the king of the North Pole.
Effing Worms Xmas Gameplay
One of the reasons that the Effing Worms series of games has been so successful is that they are all based on a very simple yet addictive premise: the destruction of anything above the ground. You play as a small, carnivorous worm under the ground - the gameplay is viewed as a cross-section with 70% of it being underground and 30% above-ground scenery - and you must guide the worm through the ground, popping up above the surface occasionally to try and eat/destroy a combination of elves, yetis, reindeer, Nyan Cats, and other food. It's a kind of twisted fun on the same level as games like Infectonator with the xmas one here, only with an entirely different gameplay concept being decked with boughs of holly.
Those with previous experience will know that controls are simple. It's a classic WASD configuration to control movement, and that's all there is to remember. Your worm has a health bar, which is constantly depleting and can only be replenished by eating people/animals above the surface. Aside from the incredibly fun act of destroying everything you possibly can, the game's longevity comes from the in-game power-ups and 'evolutions' that take place between each so-called mission. You can also trigger a screen-reddening rampage if you get a high enough multiplier by killing enemies in quick succession.
Your progression through Effing Worms Xmas is made possible by completing the various objectives that are set at the beginning of each round. Goals such as eating a certain quantity of elves or destroying a certain number of vehicles are displayed across the bottom of the screen; once you complete the goals you then pass on to the next level.
It is between each level that things get really interesting since you're asked to choose between two evolutions. These are basically just upgrades that add to the various attributes of your worm, allowing you to improve and become more destructive as you progress. You've got initial upgrades that serve to increase your health (worm blubber) or speed (weight loss). Upgrades get cooler and more beneficial as you complete each successive mission however, with upgrades like an armoured tail giving you increased health, defense spikes reducing damage taken from bombs that lie on the surface, and even 'shark spikes' that allow you to deal damage to things on the surface without even needing to pop out of the ground.
Presentation, Graphics, and Sound
While this is a fairly standard flash game at its heart, Effing Games have ensured that its presentation is well above average. The game displays a nice level of polish, with simple yet clean illustrations and animations as well as specifically-designed Christmas characters (as opposed to recycled ones used from previous iterations of the game).
The physics ensure that your movement is smooth and your jumps out of the ground feel realistic. Small details such as your worm increasing in size when you get a size upgrade and the fact that it grows spikes/enlarges its mouth/ changes appearance as you choose your evolution at the end of each round also add to the professional feel of the experience.
There's no doubt that Effing Worms Xmas is a game worthy of your time. You can play many christmas games free online, but this one is a particuarly unique and nicely polished flash game with a distinctive style and a premise that distinguishes it from all the other Christmas-themed games out there. Upgrades keep you interested throughout, and the game can be completed in around 10 minutes, though you may find it too easy to complete. This can be marked down as one of Effing Games' successes therefore, putting a violent and more intense spin on Christmas to kill the slow-moving minutes of the holiday season!