Battle Ships

by Keith Burkhill, Paul D. Walker, Rory C. Green
Crash Issue 55, Aug 1988   page(s) 102

Producer: Encore
Retail Price: £1.99
Author: Keith Burkhill

Previously released only on a compilation, Elite's Battle Ships is now available at a budget price.

Just as in the traditional game, each player has a fleet of six ships (of varying size) which are placed on a twenty-by-twenty box map. Battle is ready to commence.

You fire shots at squares (targets) on the map, hoping to hit enemy ships. On selection of the last target, the screen switches to a graphical representation of the enemy fleet at sea. Missiles are automatically fired from the player's ship as aircraft fly overhead. A direct hit appears as a red square on the map.

Players take turns to fire till an entire fleet is sunk and the winner rejoices in a victory sail past.


Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: detailed and atmospheric
Sound: sparse firing effects
Options: definable keys. One or two players plus multi-player tournament

Battle Ships is basically just the same as the pencil 'n' paper game. The graphical display of the action is purely decorative, although it enhances the atmosphere of the battle. Unfortunately, the computer opponent is extremely easy to beat and there are no skill levels, so to get the best out of the game two players are needed. The presentation is excellent with well-drawn ships and an impressive title screen. If you're looking for a game with depth then this isn't it - but as a simple and pretty version of the classic game, Battle Ships works well and is definitely worth a look.
PHIL [74%]

Hooray! My favourite boardgame on the Spectrum (well I've got the electronic version actually). Battle Ships is an excellent boardgame conversion, but it does play slightly differently from the original. Instead of taking one shot and waiting for the opposition to make their move, you have multiple shots at the enemy. This new system makes the game faster and more addictive as you can watch your opponent's ships blowing up, without worrying about which of yours they're going to hit all the time. The graphics are detailed and show all the different ships in all their stages of decomposition. It's a pity that there's no tune and only the odd sound effect when a ship takes a hit, but even without them Battle Ships remains a favourite. Thoroughly addictive.
NICK [81%]

Presentation: 79%
Graphics: 68%
Playability: 77%
Addictive Qualities: 78%
Overall: 78%

Summary: General Rating: Even more fun than the pencil 'n' paper version.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 22, Oct 1987   page(s) 22,23

After months of silence, Elite emerges again with none other than a Speccy version of the old pencil-and-paper sea battle game. And shiver our timbers, bain't it be Marcus Berkman going overboard ass usual!

Game: Battleships
Publisher: Elite
Price: £7.95
Joystick: Most types
Keys: Definable

Splosh! Yes, I fancied a dip. Though with all these missiles and fighter bombers flying around, there are safer places to be than swimming around in the sea. Like, well, anywhere else at all.

Perhaps it's more comfortable to play Battleships in the warmth of your own front room, lying on the chaise longue beside a roaring Speccy. Not that you'd ever imagine that such a simple (if frustratingly addictive) game could ever make much of a splash on the UK's fave computer. Sounds seriously dull, dunnit? But Elite - or rather boss Steve Wilcox, whose ingenious idea it was - has transferred the old HB and A4 game of distant memory into a surprisingly nifty and intelligent slice of games' programming. Wilcox and his programmers have taken the heart of the idea, tickled it up, added some excellent action sequences, and produced a genuine computer game, with enough excitement and challenge to keep the YS team away from Batty for an entire afternoon (and more)!

The rules have been modified, but the basic idea remains the same. Within a 20-by-20 grid of squares, you have to place six ships, each of different sizes and shapes. You get one aircraft carrier, which takes up six squares, one battleship (five), one submarine (four), two destroyers (three) and a missile launch (two). Your opponent (whether human or computer- shaped) positions his ships, too. Neither of you sees what the other is up to (unless, of course, you cheat. But you wouldn't do that, would you?). You then take turns to try and blast each other's fleet out of the water. You each have 24 shots a go when you start, but your ration's reduced by four each time you lose a ship. Whoever sinks all the other's fleet first, wins. Couldn't really be simpler, could it?

But like all the best games, there's more beneath the surface than meets the eye. The original Battleships is a game of strategy and slithery thinking, and the computer version can be just as slimy. Outwitting the opponent is the idea, and you can start this by arranging your ships in all manner of formations. Then, when it's your turn to attack, you've got to scatter your missiles around in such a way as to maximise your chances of hitting something (makes sense, I suppose). Then there's the problem of finishing off a vessel once you've got that first elusive hit.

Not that you should get the impression that Battleships is a dry strategy puzzle where excitement and action are unknown. 'Cos when you've chosen your 24 (or fewer) targets, you cut to a screen showing your opponent's ships - or what's left of them - and watch as your missiles smash violently into their hulls or drop pitifully into the surrounding ocean. Every time a ship is hit its sprite on the action screen becomes progressively less seaworthy, until the final hit when, with a gloop and a splutter, it keels over and heads for Davy Jones' locker. The sprite changes, too, on the grid screen, and when it goes under you see a reassuring lifebelt marked 'SOS' in its place. Six lifebelts and you're home and dry!

There are three modes of play: one player, two players and 'multi-play'. Playing by yourself is okay for practice, but a bit dull after a while, as the computer (let's face it) isn't that hot. It's better to play with two, and best of all to play with a whole bunch of you. Multi-play is, in fact, just a series of two player games, in which the winner stays on and scores points to put him/her on the high score table. After each victory a new challenger is invited to sign in, so you can play with any number, from two up. This is when the game really comes into its own.

Battleships is unlikely to please everybody, but anyone with sea legs and a keen eye for aquatic violence should love it to pieces. As well as being compulsive, it's also that rarity on the Speccy - a game that's more fun for two (I can think of a few of those Ed).

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Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 9/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Overall: 9/10

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 33, Sep 1988   page(s) 50


Come on down! The Pryce is right! (Groan - Ed) Once again Nat Pryce single-handedly guides us through the treacherous world of the budget game.

Reviewer: Nat Pryce

A game with a strange history, this. It was almost released some time ago and a lot of people thought it was extremely good, but eventually it was given the big E 'cos one mag thought it wasn't up to scratch. So I was quite intrigued to find out how good it actually was.

Battleships is a computerised version of that old pencil and paper game with added features: animated battle scenes, sound FX, salvo fire, (where you can fire four shots per remaining ship), and different ship shapes (but similar Bristol fashions). Sounds okay? Well, it certainly would be, me hearties, but for the rather gormless computer player. Its strategies are dim-witted and it misses obvious targets all the time. The game is better with two players (isn't everything?) but aren't pencils and paper a lot cheaper?

Overall: 6/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 8, May 1988   page(s) 67

Elite get all hands on deck.

It might be a heck of a lot cheaper to buy a pencil and some paper than it is to buy an Amiga and Elite's version of Battleships, but then you'd have to find a friend to play it with you.

The micro version gives you a computer-controlled opponent, so you wont have to worry on that score. Computer Battleships is a simple game that you'll probably play for years to come - but never get too excited.

Reviewer: Andy Smith

Amiga, £19.99dk, Out Now
Spec, Only on compilation (Elite Collection)
C64/128, Only on compilation (Elite Collection)
Ams, Only on compilation (Elite Collection)

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 70/100
1 hour: 70/100
1 day: 40/100
1 week: 30/100
1 month: 30/100
1 year: 30/100

Ace Rating: 523/1000

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 71, Sep 1987   page(s) 36

MACHINES: C64/Amstrad/Spectrum/Atari ST
PRICE: £7.95 (Spectrum), £8.95 (Amstrad), £9.95 (C64), £14.95 (All discs)
VERSIONS REVIEWED: Spectrum/Amstrad/C64

Bing, bing, biiing! The sonar is ticking away nicely but I still haven't managed to pick up that sneaky sub, and it's bound to be lying in wait, ready to pick off my flagship aircraft carrier. Where IS the little **@?

The tension mounts as another classic sea battle reaches its climax. Which fleet will emerge victorious? Who will survive to sail back to home base?

Who'd of thought it could be done? That old school boy classic Battleships on computer. If anyone had told me that it was being done I would have had to smother a snigger or two.

But the trouble truth is that Battleships - a 50 year old game! - is simply horribly addictive.

Play the computer, play a friend, play loads of friends in this updated strategy style offering based on the game you used to play with a couple of scraps of paper and pencils.

Load up the game and you are presented with an options menu. This allows you to select controls and decide if you want to play against the computer, a friend or indulge in a bit of multi-player action.

Two players compete at any one time then take on allcomers in a knock-out tournament. This is the only way you can get your name on the hi-score chart.

Playing the game goes like this. First you position your ships on the battle-sea. The sea is represented as a grid system and your ships as different shaped groups of squares.

The computer/player two goes through the same procedure - then it's on to the good bit - the blasting.

You begin with 24 shots which you position in the squares of the grid using a cursor.

Starting out you simply have to guess where to position your firepower - it's a good idea to simply spread your shots evenly over the grid.

Once you've used up your ammo the screen display switches to the attack screen which shows an animated view of your shells hitting or missing the enemy ships.

The ships you're attacking are displayed in detail down the side of the screen in the 64 version, while the Spectrum and Amstrad games show you the fleet bobbing about on a pixellated sea.

If you hit a ship, a square on the grid is filled in red, a miss is indicated by a blue square. If you've remembered the shapes of the different ships you'll be able to direct your fire more accurately. But remember they can be rotated diagonally on the grid.

Your attack over and it's the turn of your opposite number to attack you in exactly the same fashion. If one of your ships is sunk you lose firepower. And it's quited distressing to see them slip beneath the waves.

Don't despair if your big ships take a beating. It has been known for a tiny missile ship - lust two squares in size - to stick around long enough to beat the enemy fleet.

Spectrum and Amstrad versions are graphically similar - with the same attack/battle screen showing boats on the sea. The 64 version is different. It shows a bow mounted ships gun blasting away at the horizon while planes fly over head dropping bombs.

As boats are hit they settle in the sea - several hits are needed to finish them off finally and it has been know for a totally crippled ship to sail past in the victory parade!

Gameplay is much the same on all versions - after all you can't really change much in such a simple concept. In fact it's so simple it's brilliant.

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Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 7/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 10/10

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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