It's taken 5 years, but it's finally here. To many of us, it seemed almost like a dream, the holy grail of Jaguar games that just seemed like it wouldn't come around to some people. Many flamed 4Play for months and months, namely Kendler, who has disappeared since 4Play announced Battle Sphere was available. But was it worth the wait and the hype?
Simply put, yes! Galactic Conquest Never Looked So Cool!
"800 years in the future, slaughtering aliens is still the favorite pastime of the seven known races. In this enlightned age, however, all hostilites are confined to a spherichal region of space which is known as the BattleSphere. Within this area rages the war to end all wars. To the victor goes the spoils, which in this case, is control of the entire galaxy. You've been chosen to defend your race in the most fearsome space combat ever seen. The fate of the entire galaxy rests on your shoulders, so suit up, select your ship, and prepare to enter the BattleSphere."
The game starts out with a cool effect where the 4Play logo rolls down onto the screen, and then it goes to the title screen, which are both pretty high res. The menu screens are rendered in 24-bit color AND includes real-time raytracing, which looks completely amazing. There are four modes in single console: Pilot Training, Gauntlet, Free-for-All, and Alone Against the Empires. For Linked play there is: Free-for-All (1-32 players), BattleSphere (2-4 players), and Gauntlet (2-4 players). You can reach 32 players by having 16 linked consoles with two people on each console. It's pretty fun playing duo, the first player is the pilot, the second is the gunner.
Single Console Modes
Pilot Training Mode: This consists of 15 levels were you learn how to play. The manual says no ones ever finished all the levels, and you maybe the first. I didn't think much of it until I got to about level 8 where it seemed to get a little harder.
Gauntlet Mode: This is seeming to become one of the more popular modes among the people on the net. You are confined to one sector and are given up to six bases to defend against wave after wave of ships and strange things. There are all sorts of variations on what you fight, and it gets harder and harder as you go along. I've reached level 88 so far, and it's really fun(not to mention hard!). You can link up with another player to work as a team, which I have not been able to try unfortunately.
Free-For-All: Just like deathmatch in Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament. You and up to 15 ships go into a sector and duke it out. You can set the CPU ships AI for difficulty, and you can chose whatever ship you like. Winner is determined by either kills set, or when someone reaches a particular score(whichever you perfer). This mode is good for practice, and is just all around fun. Can also be linked up with 15 other Jags for ultimate mayhem!
BattleSphere: (Linked play only)You and a friend link up to play a sort of "Capture the Starbase". You're given an amount of ships and you go at it. First person to take over all of the opponents starbases wins.
Alone Against the Empires: The Unofficial Star Raiders 2000 mode. You're given six starbases and a number of ships which you can command to defend against attack from enemies. This mode is hard, but is fun. Single console only...
BattleSphere's graphics are SWEET! The ships are shaded really nicely and are decal mapped. Some ships are even animated! It always moves smoothly, with no slowdown, despite several ships and starbases on the screen. The lens flare effect looks pretty cool too. I just don't know how to describe it accurately. It's amazing. The light sourcing is very cool and is all over the place. It'll change the way you look at the Jag, and make you wonder why some other Jag games have things like major slowdown or whatever. This shows that the Jaguar, while not up to 'standards' of today, has some 64-bit power to it. If this was released several years ago, it would've changed the way the Jag was looked at, but oh well, it's here now, and we should be grateful for that. I wonder how it would be if it were released on the Jag CD(I remember them saying once that if BSphere were on the Jag CD, it would have used Melt-O-VisionTM.)
The music is really cool. Stephanie did an awesome job with it. The sounds are also pretty cool as well(even has some nostalgic sounds from the old Star Raiders!). Also, the sounds are in 3D stereo, and sound way good on a surround sound system.
You'd think with using every button on the pad, it'd be hard to control. Well, it's not. In some ways, it sort of reminds me of Iron Soldier's control scheme, but it isn't really. I'm thankful for the pad, it really helps out, and I'm even more thankful for my ProController.
All in all, BattleSphere is the best game on the Jag, and it ranks right up there with my favorite games like Tempest and Alien Vs. Predator. The gameplay is just phenominal, whether you like space shooter games or not. It's very addicting, and has some really funny stuff in it as well. The box and manual look very professional, and the box have even been shown to contain codes on it, which BattleSphere is loaded with. With so many ships to destroy and to chose from, it's hard to get bored with it. You can even fly around as a little guy and pick of enemies(assuming you don't get shot down)! The AI is just smart, and you have to get really familiar with how the game is played to come up with different attack strategies.
It's unknown as to how many codes there are, but there are quite a few of them, including the BattleSphere VLM, software for the JUGS development device, possibly a hidden game of 'Rocks', and more.
Special, special thanks to 4Play for sticking with us Jag fans for all these years and developing not for material gain, but for principals and for fun of course.
If you don't have it yet, DON'T PROCRASTINATE! It's a mistake you cannot afford to make!