Tapeworm Disco Puzzle

There aren't many games that feature worms as a protagonist. I can come up with Wriggler and Fat Worm Blows a Sparky off the top my head, plus Earthworm Jim, of course. This 2021 release from Lowtek adds to that exclusive pantheon nicely. 

Telling its tale through static cut-scenes, we find out that DJ Tapeworm's friends the fleas have been acting strangely, The fleas and other worms have been corrupted by sinister music, and  it's up to our stretchy DJ friend to investigate and thwart the villain's plan by travelling through the 100 levels.  

On each level, the DJ, whose head appears from one of the 2 write-protect holes on a cassette tape, must stretch his body out, block by block, to collect all the musical notes. Sometimes he'll also have to help fleas reach their jars of blood or the exit, by positioning his tubular body beneath them. He can't stretch forever though - on each level he starts with a maximum length, but picking up cassette tapes extends that. Danger comes in the form of bubbling stomach acid, aggressive insects and sharp knives that line the walls. Bump into any of these, or allow any of your flea friends to do so, and you're starting the level again.  

Luckily, it's a very modern design in that regard. There are no lives to worry about and there's a handy level select available via 4-character passcodes. This means that you can happily fail without any stress or consequence, making for a very chilled out experience. It's an easy one to finish as a result.

There's some variety as the levels progress, with new baddies and mechanics appearing to keep things spicy. Best of these is a sequence of levels where the worm has 2 heads, which mirror each others' movements. Every 20 levels, there's a faster action level, where your worm proceeds inexorably ahead, and you have to pick a safe path to collect what you need without crashing into any hazards or your own trailing body.

This all adds up to a charming and relaxing puzzle action game. Not spectacular, but very pleasant. 

You can get it for NES or Dreamcast on itch.io
The NES version is also on Antstream if you're lazy, and there's a PC version on Steam.

That's a flea lady to the right. You have to get her safely to the door at the top using only your wormy body.

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