Another Hasbro classic has been given the console makeover and is now available on Switch thanks to Marmalade Game Studio, but is this turn-based naval classic a hit or a miss? Let’s find out.
MASTER AND COMMANDER
Battleship is a solid recreation of the classic board game, for those who may be unfamiliar the task is simple. Each player set’s their fleet of five ships of varying lengths out on a ten by ten square grid that their opponent can’t see, you both then take turns in firing shots at spots on the grid hoping to score a hit and inevitably send your opponents fleet down to Davy Jones locker before they can sink you. For many of a certain age group, this may have been the first experience of turn-based strategy and if you enjoyed it then you’ll certainly enjoy it now. This classic mode is available and recreated exactly as you’d expect, after all, if it isn’t broke then don’t fix it.
To accompany the classic mode is a new mode called “Commanders” following the same template of laying out your fleet and engaging your opponent in a flash of cannons the grids now have various layouts and shapes with more elaborately shaped ships to accompany them. This alone is a welcomed change as in classic mode the ships are all two to five spaces in length meaning that when you or your enemy scores a hit it’s not too challenging to fish around and follow the length of a ship until it goes under. As well as new grids and ships there is also a perk system, for every hit you make and receive you earn points that can be used on power-ups ranging from sonar, airstrikes, bomb strikes and so on. I found myself enjoying this mode more than I thought as it struck just the right balance of updating a classic with some modern gaming elements which are bound to appeal to a newer audience and offer a fun alternative to purists.
YOU HAVE SUNK MY BATTLESHIP!
Unlike the original board game that saw red v blue as the premise, Marmalade Studios have included a range of commanders and fleets from the pages of history to unlock and use. Each commander has their own periodic fleet and perks but thankfully these perks remain well balanced, where a British naval captain may have an airstrike, an ancient Greek crew would have a volley of spears or a Napoleonic man-o-war would have a full broadside etc. This added a nice variation to the proceedings as the commanders are all brought to life with beautiful hand-drawn graphics and each has a respective background to use to freshen the screen up to suit your preference.
Both these modes can be played in single-player with a choice of three difficulties though I found the Medium setting to have the right balance as it should. Multiplayer is also available with the option to play locally with your friends, this is best enjoyed if you each have a switch and you can plonk them down on the table back to back like the old school board game and get down to business. There is an option to play on one screen but you will be required to download the companion app on your mobiles in order to keep your fleets hidden, I didn’t get to try this mode. I did get to play a chunk of the online which worked fine, had no issues finding opponents and the simple turn-based premise was ideal for avoiding any lag issues.
PROMOTION IF YOU PLEASE
As well as the bread and butter of Battleships which is, of course, the gameplay, there is also a number of challenges to complete to see yourself work up the ranks and unlock the new commanders and backgrounds. These can range from winning two battles in a certain setting, playing as a certain fleet, scoring a hit right after sinking a ship etc though nothing that will get the hardcore juices flowing it was nice to have a few challenges to consider during gameplay to spice things up a bit.
As mentioned with online, the performance of Battleship was as it should be, smooth and enjoyable. The single-player moves along at a nice pace with AI not taking forever to “think” about their move as can be found in some board game adaptations. Presentation is clear with enough variation to keep it engaging, sinking a ship will be rewarded with a quick animation of a said vessel going down in a blaze of glory. Music is basic and subtle with sound effects being as they should and coming through clearly in handheld mode. Touch screenplay is also available if you prefer but I mainly stuck to playing with the Joy-Con.
As far as a board game adaptation goes there is little to gripe about here. The core audience will be pleased to have an old favourite in the palm of their hands for a few quick sessions of some online competition. Just enough has been added to offer an alternate take on the classic but not at the expense of the original. Progression and online options are a nice touch and although I understand the method behind the app requirements for single-screen multiplayer it would have been nice to have an option to pass the Switch back and forth in handheld. Scoring this purely for what it is which is Battleships for the modern audience, you can’t really go wrong if you’re a fan or just want to try a balanced classic.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Nintendo, Mobile
Release Date: 24/07/2019
No. of Players: 1-2
Publisher: Marmalade Game Studio
Download link: eShop