With the possible exception of Tic-Tac-Toe, board games don't get much simpler than Battleship. Even when they added fancy plastic parts and computerized voices, the game was essentially nothing more than a guessing game. Think: Deal or No Deal with live ammo instead of suitcases of money. And yet, despite the shallowness of the gameplay, we couldn't get enough of it as a kid.
This 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System game attempts to add some depth and mission structure to Battleship. The game offers plenty of levels to master and ships to place, as well as new weapons that can give you the upper hand in nearly every situation. And yet, Battleship on the NES doesn't go far enough. Even after going through a couple dozen stages, I couldn't get over the feeling that I would rather have a real person playing next to me.
Battleship on the NES turns one of the most popular competitive board games into a repetitive single-player outing. Gamers are expected to place various ships (including submarines, destroyers, aircraft carriers and the titular Battleships) on an 8 x 12 grid. From there you and the computer take turns shooting your artillery hoping to take down all of the enemy's ships before they can "sink your battleship."
Although the rules remain largely unchanged, this NES game offers a few new twists that give the game slightly more depth. One of the additions is the ammo select screen, which allows players to fire at more than one grid space at a time. Each of the weapons is tied to a specific boat type, so once the enemy sinks that unit you will lose the weapon for good. Blanketing the map with shots as quickly as possible is the key to winning Battleship, so keeping these powerful units alive is even more important.
Each of the game's 40 stages has you using different ships, which adds a little variety to each mission. Unfortunately, with only a few boat types, the variety becomes repetitive far too quickly. Also, the computer is a terrible cheat, so you'll have to replay stages over and over against until you get lucky.
The real problem with this version of Battleship is the complete lack of a two-player mode. To be fair to the developers, I'm not sure how you could create a multiplayer mode when both players are looking at the same TV. However, this one omission takes all of the fun out of the experience. You're better off playing the classic board game against your friends and family.
Had this game tried harder it could have made up for the missing multiplayer. Perhaps they could have made the level designs more interesting or added more ship variations. But they didn't, instead they turned the board game into a dull NES game. Worse yet, the game repeats the same animations for every turn. The whole thing feels like it was hastily assembled on a shoestring budget.
With no multiplayer mode and a repetitive story mode, there's almost no reason to spend more than a round or two with Battleship. Forget this NES game and stick with the original board game.