The ST GAMESHELF
600 Galveston Drive
P.O. Box 8020
Redwood City, CA 94063
$29.95, color only
Reviewed by Steve Panak
I go into most products with an open mind, trying not to be unduly influenced by my first impressions, attempting to evaluate the program on its own merits, disregarding any market hype. But going into Battleship, I expected the worse. And once I had this new computer version, sanctioned by Milton Bradley, in my hot little hands, my first thought was Why? While easily converted to computer, the game still seems best suited for play by two human players, and I rarely find thrusting a computer interface into such an equation resolves it satisfactorily. Boy, was I wrong.
I learned this immediately after booting up. Sticking closely to the formula of the perennial favorite, I first placed my ships on the battle grid, while my opponent did the same. Then came my first surprise. Rather than allowing me to fire one shot at my adversary, I got to pump out 16. Using the mouse I floated the targeting cross hair over my opponent's ocean, laying down a wide pattern I hoped would hit one of his ships, allowing me to home in for the kill on my next turn.
After I had targeted my last shot, the grid was replaced by the image of my shots volleying toward my enemy's boats. As I watched from the deck of my gunship, one by one my shells lofted toward him, until finally a shot hit his aircraft carrier and crippled it. The buckled boat listed sickly to one side as it began to take on water. My magazine spent, the computer took its turn and missed me completely, but at this point I noticed one subtlety not in the original. Since he had suffered some damage in my barrage, he was allowed not 16 shots, but only 14. Near the end, as we searched for each other's small torpedo boats, we each had only four shots. This both increased realism and slowed play near the end, as every shot could be the last.
Technically, the computer proved an adequate opponent, and, once it scored a hit, it zeroed in on the wounded prey with vicious accuracy. Options allow you to select one- or two-player competition, as well as a tournament mode that allows for more than two players. For those who want to slow play, you can adjust the firing to a maximum of an entire magazine, or only up to four shots per round. Great graphics, realistic sound and a spartan, but complete manual round out the package.
So, although it's hard to believe, I'm going to have to recommend Battleship. While at first glance it seems like a cheap rip-off of a childhood favorite, it is instead a competent computerization of a classic board game.
Recommendation: Buy it.
Steve Panak has written more game reviews for ST-LOG and ANALOG than anyone on the face of the earth. He lives in Ohio where he plays games on his ST and, with the time remaining, practices law.