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Battleship: A Classic Board Game for the iPhone

by: CompuDav ; edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

The game of Battleship has now arrived for the iPhone thanks to Electronic Arts. Available for just $2.99 in the Apple App Store, Battleship aims to faithfully recreate the classic game while at the same time jazzing it up a bit for the iPhone audience. We'll see if EA's mission was successful!

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    Battleship Redefined

    Many people likely remember playing Battleship as a kid. Originally invented by Clifford Von Wickler in the early 1900s, the game was later published by Milton Bradley in 1943. Today, of course, Battleship is widely known and has been released with talking boards, Star Wars themed pieces, and there's even one based on Pirates of the Caribbean.

    Electronic Arts has decided to bring this intuitive and venerable game to the iPhone. Costing just $2.99 from the App Store (a price that's quite cheap for EA's standards), Battleship tries to bring a unique twist to the game by offering different play modes and some moderately well-rendered cutscenes. But do these additions make the game worthwhile? Read on to find out!

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    Hey, You Sunk my Battleship!

    I'm going to assume that readers are familiar with the rules of Battleship. For those who haven't played the game, you basically take five ships and place them on a 10x10 square grid. Your opponent does the same. You then take turns calling out a grid location, until you call the location of all the opponents ships. For the most part, Battleship strives to give some light hearted fun and doesn't require a large amount of skill (although, there is some skill in placing the ships well).

    EA faithfully recreates this game. You start off with your ships and place them on the board. You then double-tap on one of your opponent's squares to send a strike to that location. A cutscene creates some suspense by showing your missile being guided towards the target and then either showing a hit or miss. The opponent then selects one of your squares and the process repeats until a winner is found. After a while, I suspect most users will switch off the cutscenes for the sake of brevity as they become quite monotonous after you've played a couple of rounds of the game.

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    Three Variations

    For those of you who want to spruce up your Battleship experience, EA has included two different versions of the game: Salvo and Superweapons.

    Salvo mode lets you select as many squares on the grid as you have ships remaining. Originally everyone can select five grid squares. However, if you have, say, three ships remaining, you will only be able to select three spaces. It's an interesting variant, although it seems to unfairly penalize the losing party.

    Superweapons mode gives everyone new weapons. Although these are given cool names like "Air Strike" and "Frag Bomb", they really just represent a sequence of grid squares. So, for example, the Air Strike weapon lets you target five consecutive squares in a row or column. Each weapon has a unique recharge time before it can be used again, to prevent spamming the best attacks.

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    No Multiplayer - Argh!

    Battleship, I contend, was never intended to be played against a CPU. Much of the excitement involved with Battleship is winning against another live human being. It's about being able to gloat when you know where all the other person's ships are and your opponent couldn't even find one of yours. It's about being able to kill some time with something relatively quick and simple when you've got nothing better to do.

    As such, Battleship winds up translating quite poorly for the iPhone platform. Online multiplayer is unavailable with this game and unless you have friends who have iPhones and want to play with you, you're going to just be playing against the computer. And with the plethora of awesome apps and games available, do you really want to waste your time guessing if E5 is where the CPU randomly put their destroyer?

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    All in all, I have to give Battleship a relatively poor rating. Don't get me wrong - it's a faithful recreation of the original game. The problem is that it just isn't all that much fun. This isn't even coming from someone who doesn't like Battleship as I remember it being one of my favorite games as a child. The problem is that it just doesn't translate well in the single-player setting as it gets too boring, too quickly.

    Considering all the factors, I'd probably give this game a 4 out of 10. There are definitely better games on which you can spend your money.