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Battle Ships (Amstrad CPC)

15 February 2022

You sunk my battleship.

Loading screen. Ship splitting in half.

Ha, ha. OK, but seriously, I think this is the best version of Battleships on any computer system.

Why?

  • It loads really fast (for a tape).
  • There are animations for shots fired, and for ships sinking.
  • Appropriate sound effects.
  • The CPU player is not too easy or too tough.
  • It shows a fun little demo if you don't touch a key for a minute.
  • Salvo fire!

Whoever thought of salvo fire needs a pat on the back and a hot cup of drinking chocolate. This mode changes the game from a rather tedious tit-for-tat affair into a nail-biting strategy game.

Instead of one shot per turn, you get four for every ship still above water, so 24 shots if they are all intact. To compensate for this increased firepower, the board can take 400 hits, instead of the original game's 90 hits.

This creates an important strategy element — do you spread your shots around in order to find the enemy ships, or concentrate on a specific area? Remember, every enemy ship you sink reduces their firepower, and thus makes your ships harder to find and destroy.

The Battleships board with a few shots placed on the grid.

When you've placed all your shots, you get shown a cockpit view of the (er, yellow) cannonballs flying out from your flagship towards the enemy ships. Despite appearances, a shot that's placed really close to an enemy ship on the board won't also be shown as a near-miss in the cockpit view. It's deliberately not realistic because otherwise it'd be possible to cheat.

The cockpit view. Shots firing.

After that, the other player gets their turn. You have to hold your breath while you watch the shots fly towards your fleet.

Another strategy element involves what to do once you've made a hit. If you were paying attention in the cockpit, you might be able to work out which ship was hit, and thus know what its shape is. Even so, you probably won't know exactly where it lies. Do you waste a bunch of shots to guarantee its destruction, or pick it off piece by piece?

All in all, it's a really great version and my hat goes off to the developers:

Program: Paul David Hunter.
Graphics: Paul Walker.
Design: Keith Burkhill.

Published by Elite, 1987.

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