Battleship The Video Game (Nintendo 3DS) - Review by Andrew
Console games based on movies are nothing new and every month sees a healthy amount of tie-ins hoping to cash in on the latest big screen outings. Games based on movies, based on board games is a little more unique although this is not the first time Battleships has seen it's way onto a Nintendo handheld and the original GameBoy featured it's very own version of the classic way back in 1992. Since then it's seen releases on the GameBoy Color, Advance and even the DS although all of these have generally been as part of a compilation. With all of this in mind is a simple strategy game really worthy of its very own outing in today's gaming market?
Before we start, let's straighten one thing out, all the Nintendo platforms feature the very same turn based strategy affair and not the FPS extravaganza you may have seen previewed for the X-Box and PS3. These are all sea based (big surprise there then) and challenge you to wipe out the alien fleet whilst keeping your own ships intact over an ever expanding battle grid. This starts out easy enough and you'll be given a certain number of ships with varying firepower and range. The 'range' is actually very important here as the larger and more powerful ships can only move in deep water making some of the enemies unreachable. As the game progresses you may have to defend a venerable ship or even a port although reaching one of these outposts will also allow you to summon reinforcements. Something you'll definitely require should you fail to plot your strategy in detail.
Travelling any sort of distance can become a problem too anything which takes several turns to reach can use up valuable fuel. Fortunately, you'll also have a supply ship at your disposal and while this will always carry enough extra fuel for all of your fleet, it has little in the way of defenses so must be protected at all costs. It's this constant 'balance of power', which is at the heart of Battleship's gameplay, in addition to it's easy accessibility for all. A word of warning though and even if the first few missions appear to be a walk over it's important not to become too complacent as Battleship offers a surprising challenge with missions becoming larger, more complex and populated with far more powerful aliens. Sadly, this is one of our major gripes about the whole experience and as there's no ability to save during the missions, failing one of the latter challenges may have you replaying a battle, which has already lasted an hour or so. Even once you do battle through the whole thing though there's still a generous amount of extended gameplay to be had thanks to the achievements (referred to as Medals here) and a Skirmish Mode, which allows missions to be replayed with any Officer.
Other than the 'Duels', which we'll talk about later, everything here is controlled by the d-pad and face buttons. You could easily criticise this and question the developer's wisdom in opting for this method as opposed to selecting the touch-screen but it actually all works very well indeed.
While the visuals aren't bad, they are incredibly basic and you do feel that this visual style could have been achieved on the DS or even the GameBoy Advance. It's even more surprising when you consider just how accomplished developers Magic Pockets are at this type of thing and they've been producing quality handheld titles for some years now.
Other than a rousing Military style theme there's very little to listen to here which is probably a good thing as you're probably better off concentrating on the actual battles. Other than the music you do get the odd explosion and shell firing sound effect but the various characters remain silent even though the amount of text below then would suggest that they actually have a great deal to say for themselves.
As we've mention already, the majority of the game relies on the fact buttons and the d-pad to control all the action. You'll only actually require the touch-screen during one of the sea-based duels. This occurs when one of your larger ships draws alongside an alien vessel and you select the 'duel' option. This is the only 'arcade' based gameplay in the whole package with the stylus controlling your weapons as you aim to disarm the enemy before they inflict too much damage on your ship. After a quick battle you'll be shown just how you did but if you have been a little slower than your alien competitor, you'll witness your ship sinking to the depths.
Other than the 3D, which actually works quite well on these types of ploddy strategy titles, the developers don't even attempt to use the 3DS features at all. This is also true of the various FMV cut screens, which are bizarrely in 2D throughout.
It's actually quite refreshing that the developers didn't attempt to produce a title which reflects the all out action of the movie but rather kept to the DS and 3DS's strengths by producing a turn based strategy title. The genre is also perfectly suited to handheld gaming allowing the user bite sized gaming on the move. It's also much better than you've come to expect from a movie tie-in too and while it's not nearly as accomplished as Advance Wars, it will certainly fill the gap until Nintendo get around to producing their own 3DS version of the classic. In short Battleship is probably worth a look even if you haven't seen the movie and, given the reviews the big screen outing is receiving, you are probably better sticking to the smaller, transportable screen.
Pro: Well Pitched Learning Curve, Challenging.
Con: Low end Presentation, No Checkpoints.
Final score: 5.5