Image: Team17

Back in 2019, Team17 published a blog post referencing a long-lost port of Worms designed to run on UK Teletext systems.

This got some people online thrilled about the possibility of a previously unheard-of piece of Worms history before others quickly ended this excitement, pointing out that it had been posted on April 1st (in other words, April Fools' Day).

It's been four years since then and most people have probably since forgotten about this prank, but a dedicated programmer named Alexander Grupe (also known by his demoscene name AttentionWhore) has revealed that he has brought Teletext to Commodore Amiga and, in doing so, has created a version of Worms for the service called Worms VBI (or Worms Vertical Blank Interrupt) to show it off (thanks IndieRetroNews!).

Worms VBI debuted at the demoparty Evoke 2023 earlier this year, where it ranked 1st in its Interactive Competition. It is a simplified version of Worms with only three weapons available (the bazooka, the suicide bomb, and dynamite), as well as some understandably blockier graphics.

Speaking about the project in a video uploaded last week, Grupe said, “If you’ve ever played Worms before and I guess chances are high in this audience that you once did, this might look familiar although it’s a little more coarse than the original resolution because it’s adapted for teletext. In Teletext, we only have 40 by 24 characters and each character can hold 6 subblocks for very blocky sixel graphics as it’s called. Other than that you have your usual Worm critters, your landscape, fire at the bottom, a little background, and you can move around with a mouse and look where the others are."

On the competition entry page, as spotted by IndieRetroNews, Grupe also gave more details about how this was all possible: "The game generates Teletext via the normal cinch output on the TV, using signals that are above the visible screen. There are 312 lines in the PAL image. The Teletext data is placed on lines 6-22, during which the so-called frame return blanking takes place. In a classic TV, the electron spot of the cathode ray tube is extinguished and the deflection coils move it back to the top left corner of the screen (or the center depending on whether an even or odd half-picture) during this time. This must take time because the current in the coil cannot be changed in an instant."

You can grab the Teletext version of Worms here. It requires an Amiga AGA or ECS as well as a Teletext-capable TV. You can also watch another demonstration of the game below from the YouTuber Saberman.

[source youtu.be, via indieretronews.com]