Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 50 years or so, you will have probably played or at the very least heard of the game Battleships. In a nutshell, you position some ships (typically 5) on a grid, your opponent does the same, and the idea is to sink your opponents ships before he/she sinks yours.
The app version of Battleships which the developer decided to name Battleship is a brilliant conversion of the classic board game. If you’ve played Battleships before you’ll be playing in no time at all, it’s easy to get cracking and involved in a match without the need for instructions.
Unlike the classic game where you would input a grid reference such as E2 to strike an attack on your opponent, the standard Battleships grid is shown on your iPhone screen, and you just tap the area you intend to attack.
Once you launch an attack, there are some beautiful visuals to further add a sense of anticipation before establishing whether your strike was successful or not. You will quickly find that the visuals repeat themselves but if they do become too repetitive for your liking they can be turned off in the ‘Settings’ menu.
Superweapons and Salvo modes
Battleship also offers two other game modes as the above title suggests. The principle of winning the game is the same as ‘Classic’ mode. Unlike ‘Classic’ mode where you would choose one square (grid reference) and then take it in turns with your opponent to fire a single shot until only one survives, ‘Salvo’ mode offers the ability to shoot some strikes on a single turn. The number of squares you can choose during your turn is determined by the number of ships you have available. So for example, when you start a new game, you’ll always start with five battleships, and therefore you can strike five times (choose five squares). If you lose one of your ships at any point, then on your next turn you’ll only get to pick four squares, and so it goes on until you or your opponent are out of battleships. It sounds relatively straightforward in principle but can become very tactical and makes a nice change from ‘Classic’ mode.
The ‘Superweapons’ mode is probably the most fun out of the three methods available. When you start the game you’ll be given the option to choose three superweapons out of a possible 13 (see image), although when you first play the game, only four will be available to you, the others will need to be unlocked. Once chosen the game will start as normal and the rules the same, kill your opponent before he kills you but this time you have some funky weapons at your disposal! A ‘Semaine’ for example, which you position on a grid reference, will quietly bob around the surface of the ocean until it comes across a beautiful gunmetal gray battleship and dutifully explodes. Then there’s the ‘Airstrike’ where you’ll see a jet fly over the ocean and drop three bombs on your chosen area. There’s something very satisfying about using ‘Superweapons’ although you can’t just decide to use a ‘Superweapon’ on every one of your turns…oh no, that would be too easy. Instead, you have to wait for them to charge themselves up and only then can you use them. Depending on how powerful and efficient the weapon is the longer they will take to load up and so your decision at the beginning of the game when choosing your weapons, is again a tactical one. If none of your ‘Superweapons’ are charged up, you’ll just use the standard weapon on your turn.
Excellent implementation of a classic game.
The Superweapons and Salvo modes are a lot of fun and as good as classic style.
Wifi and Bluetooth unstable so render multi-player useless
Playing on the iPhone is great fun, and the AI is nicely balanced, although quite easy to beat. There are suggestions on some of the ‘App Store’ reviews that the AI works in a pattern. However, we couldn’t couldn’t find any public behavior after playing many games. It would perhaps be nice to offer different levels of difficulty, but overall the AI works well.
The music is okay on Battleship but nothing overly special. It does get repetitive after a while, but I guess that is to be expected on a simple turn by turn strategy game. You can always turn it off if it becomes too annoying!
Battleship is likely to keep you coming back for more, not least because you’ll want to unlock those ‘Superweapons’ which you do by winning games and sinking ships. At the end of each winning play (see image) you’ll be greeted by a little message which states ‘Sink five more ships to rank-up’ or at least words to that effect. It’s like dangling a carrot right in front of your nose; you just have to have one more game or whatever number it takes to get that next weapon, and then once you do, the whole cycle starts all over again!
This, unfortunately, is where the game falls short. We were very excited about the possibility of using wifi or Bluetooth and having some heated multiplayer battles! The first thing we tried was wifi (both iPhones must be using the same network), one player would create a game, and the other would join, and so the games began. Unfortunately, after some turns, a screen would appear stating connection lost. We tried this 5 or 6 times and experienced the same problems. The period before the dreaded connection lost screen appeared ranged from 2 – 6 minutes, and we were nowhere near completing a game.
Never mind all is not lost, we’ll just have to play via Bluetooth….Wrong! This was worse that wifi, in fact, we couldn’t even get the iPhones to see each other and so never managed to fire a single strike let alone finish a game.
If you are desperate to play against a friend, then Battleship does have a ‘Pass n Play’ mode, so all is not lost, but it’s not quite the same as using two iPhones.
Options & Settings
There aren’t an enormous amount of settings and options available. However, there doesn’t need to be. The settings available are Sound, Vibration, Cutscenes (on/off), Language and Hidden Targets. There’s also a ‘Help’ menu to explain the different modes of play.
Battleship is an addictive, fun, quick pick-up game that works very well on the iPhone. The developers have thought about the best way to port it to the platform and have done a very nice job indeed. Unfortunately, it is let down by its multiplayer features or lack of, and that’s why we can only offer four stars. If multiplayer worked the way it should, it would easily get full marks. If you’re a fan of the original Battleships, then you’re going to love this, and if you’re not or haven’t played before, you might just be in for a surprise.