LGR – Battleship – PC Game Review
It’s a ship!
It’s a board game!
It’s a… movie for some reason?
It’s also a PC game,
which thanks to NMS Software
and Hasbro Interactive,
yeah, it exists!
This is the 1996 PC version of
the ultimate naval warfare game,
which I discovered thanks to the local library
keeping a copy on hand back in the ’90s.
As soon as I saw this box
and those screenshots,
I knew I had to check it out.
I mean, Battleship was already
a fun time to me back then, and
Electronic Battleship was even better.
But computerized Battleship
with high-resolution graphics?
CLEARLY this was the peak of the franchise!
Which was verified to 11-year-old me when
I saw that it came on not just one CD-ROM
Although it wasn’t because
the game was that huge,
it was because the
second CD could be used
by someone on another
computer to play multiplayer.
You also got a registration card for Hasbro,
a supplemental instruction sheet that
covers the iffiness of Windows 95 gaming,
and a jewel case manual
featuring WAY more information than
the manual for the board game ever did,
reasons for which will become apparent quite soon.
The Ship of Battles begins with a
battalion of logos and ship like that,
followed by a full-motion video into sequence
with a more believable plot than the movie ever had.
Look! There’s things to destroy!
There are battleships to destroy said things.
There you go.
After this, you get a main menu
which lets you play single or multiplayer,
as well as change around a few options,
like adjusting video quality, difficulty and
Mmm, so authentic.
Let’s boot up a solo game mode
which starts you off with a…
Classic practice mode is the same
exact gameplay as the board game,
but here you’ll note that there are
a whole lot more things to do here.
Clash At Sea,
Capture The Island,
Global Thermonuclear War,
Shall We Play A…
What–what is all this mess?
Well, you see, this was during the time
when simple board game
translations were no longer enough
for computer gaming.
They had to pack these full of all sorts of
extra modes that no one asked for, and
maybe weren’t even that good,
all in the name of convincing people to buy
yet another computerized board game.
Battleship in particular had all sorts
of virtual adaptations before ’96,
on all sorts of computers
and consoles the world over,
dating all the way back to the late-’70s.
And those are just the somewhat official ones.
Beyond that, you had dozens,
maybe even hundreds of knockoffs
that let you play the classic Battleship game
on your computer of choice.
By the time this one had come around,
Hasbro Interactive had
started up a whole new wave
of traditional board and card
game releases for computers,
and Battleship was no exception.
But let’s take a look at
the classic gameplay mode,
which is far and away the mode
that I played the most as a kid and
You start by placing your
battleships on your ocean grid
in the same way you do in the board game,
while your opponent does the same.
You don’t have to worry about
calling out grid coordinates as you play
and instead, just point and click
on the spot you want to fire upon.
What’s neat here is that for every move,
you’re treated to an audio-visual spectacle
of your offensive tactics and resulting destruction.
What’s even neater
is that you can select which
vessel that you want to do the firing,
which gives you a tiny little bit of
what feels like control,
even though it kind of isn’t.
It just gives you a unique animation,
depending on what’s going on.
So there’s a lot more to take in
each time you play than it first seems.
Or there would be, if 60% of the video
wasn’t covered up by all
these ugly interface elements.
Still this was supremely
sweet to me as a young lad.
I was that kind of kid, always
saving up money to buy the next
great fighter jet model or
creating armies of paper
airplane and LEGO creations.
Being able to play a game that
I was already so familiar with and
then see all this killer destruction on my screen
alongside it was just entirely too awesome.
It didn’t matter that the AI was predictable,
the full-motion video was super compressed,
and gameplay was boring after a game or two.
Battleship for the PC was one of those games
that fueled my imagination for the rest of the day
and had me running off to design my own
airplanes and ships with a pencil and paper.
But remember that large manual and those
extraneous game modes to choose from?
Yeah, well turns out there was a ton
more to this version of Battleship.
Back then I didn’t even bother with these extra modes
because they confused the crap out of me.
Well, I wouldn’t even bother with these modes
because they confuse the crap out of me.
All right, maybe “confuse” is the wrong word here.
It’s not that they’re unlearnable,
it’s just that the implementation
isn’t very effective.
So you got a whole bunch of missions that
aren’t based on any kind of story or anything.
They’re mostly just there to fill up space.
It’s a bunch of skirmishes and
things that you have to do,
like what you would see in
a flight simulator game, or
a war gaming… game.
Scenarios to play through,
objectives to complete.
It’s not really put together with any kind
of narrative and it doesn’t really need it.
That’s not my complaint.
What I have an issue here
with is just that it doesn’t
work very well at all. Like it–
For one thing, there’s just a lot of
confusion with the interface itself.
Not only is it still in the way, but
you have to do things like
zooming in and out of the map,
which just doesn’t work very fluidly, and
controlling different fleets,
which, again, just doesn’t work very well.
You have to kind of decipher
what is attacking you where,
what to do about it at any given time, and
the tools that it gives you just aren’t sufficient
for making this very fun.
Going from an overarching map
to the traditional grid scheme for battles
is bizarre and ’cause it all takes place in real time.
It’s no longer turn-based here,
so things are just kind of all over the place,
with animations going in the background CONSTANTLY.
You don’t necessarily know if
you need to address them.
It’s just bombarding you with information.
Half of it’s useless,
the other half is just hard to control.
But yeah, it’s still Battleship
and it still gets my imagination going in a
way that makes me feel like a kid again.
I like the classic practice mode
of this Battleship version,
and I do like those full-motion video
background things going on.
It’s just neat to see the
submarine and do a thing
when I tell the submarine to do a thing.
Obviously, it’s not much now
and those extra game modes
don’t hold up very well at all.
In fact, they just weren’t
very fun back then, either.
I don’t know if I’d recommend it, but I will say
that this is a thing that exists
and now I’ve talked about it and I feel better.
And I hope that perhaps it brought
back a memory or two for you as well.
And if you enjoyed this video,
then maybe you’d like to see some of my others.
I’ve got one here on DOOM and one here on
playing Fallout 4 and other
things on a black-and-white TV
though HDMI conversions and stuff.
It’s pretty neat, I think,
so watch those if you would care to,
or subscribe to see more in the future
every Monday and Friday here on LGR.
And as always, thank you for watching–
Aw, you sank my battleship, ya jerk!