Variations of Battleship have been played on pen-and-paper for over 100 years, and we've seen the game adapted to movie licenses like Star Wars and decked out with excessive electronics and hefty price tags. Compared to a $40 or more electronic, battery-powered board game, this $10 Xbox 360 translation sounds like a great deal. If you want a "real" board game of this title, it's going to cost you $10-$20, more if you want the sound effects. You can also play for free if you know the rules and have some paper.
$10 (800 MS points)
Technically not a standalone game, Battleship exists as "downloadable content" for the free 250 MB Xbox 360 Live Arcade Hasbro Family Game Night application. Basically, it's like this: you can download a complete suite of Hasbro board games absolutely free, but it's going to cost you $10 a pop to play any of them. It's like downloading an entire Namco Museum collection for free, but each game is going to cost you.
Move the crosshair, drop a bomb. In some cases there's a special weapon like a torpedo that travels the length of the board until it hits something or comes out the other side. Like the other games in the collection, EA made sure it was easy for gamers of any age to grasp quickly. The various other modes are fairly easy to figure out, as it says "now you have this weapon" and then you pretty much deploy it like a regular turn. Simple, effective, fun.
You have a 10x10 grid, with a number of seagoing vehicles at your disposal. You and your opponent hide these from one another, and then randomly guess where you think your opponent hid their pieces. You keep going until you sink all their ships. Having just written that out, allow me to assure you the game is generally more exciting than I just made it sound, but at its heart the gameplay is some variation on "I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 100."
In addition to the standard hunt-and-peck mode, there's a "Salvo" mode which gives you as many shots per turn as you have boats in play. In addition to this, there's super weapons which let you torpedo a column of positions, or blow up a small chunk of the grid. Speeding up the generally slow board games is one area where Hasbro Family Game Night really excels, I don't know if I'd be up for playing this game on a tabletop but I am having a good time with it on the TV.
It's very difficult but not impossible to complete a game online due to various troubles with the Electronic Arts servers which we highlighted in the other Hasbro Family Game Night reviews. In theory, it'd be fantastic-- it's a nice game which goes slow enough to have a conversation with the other player, as long as the server doesn't crap out. Which, from my experiences, it inevitably, unfortunately will. If your connection remains true, what you have here is a fantastic way to spend a few minutes or an entire afternoon.
But don't take my word for it-- ask around. If this issue has been resolved, you might be missing out on a wonderful experience.
Is It Worth It?
The extra modes, amusing sound effects, classic gameplay, and general speediness are good clean fun. The fact that Xbox Live play is broken is what brings this one down. All the Hasbro Game Night games are solid, fun titles which would have a quasi killer app status if they functioned as well as, oh, let's say any other game on the platform.
Still, I keep coming back for more, even with the bugs. If that isn't some form of endorsement I don't know what is. I want to love it, it just needs some work. If for any reason you get this in a future where it's available on a retail compilation disc, it's probably totally worth it.
April 14, 2009