Warlords (1980 video game)
Warlords is an arcade game released by Atari, Inc. in 1980. The game resembles a combination of Breakout and Quadrapong (an early Atari arcade game) in the sense that not only can up to 4 players play the game at the same time, but also the "castles" in the four corners of the screen are brick walls that could be broken with a flaming ball.
North American arcade flyer
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Atari 2600|
|CPU||M6502 clocked at 1.512MHz |
|Sound||POKEY clocked at 1.512MHz|
|Display||Raster, 256x224, horizontal orientation|
Warlords uses spinner controllers for player control, and came in both an upright 2 player version and a 4 player cocktail version. The upright version uses a black and white monitor, and reflects the game image onto a mirror, with a backdrop of castles, giving the game a 3D feel. The upright version only supports up to two simultaneous players, which move through the levels as a team. The cocktail version is in color, and supports 1-4 players. 3-4 player games are free-for-all's where the game ends as soon as one player wins. 1-2 player games play identical to the upright version.
According to the Atari video game production numbers, 1014 uprights were made, and 1253 cocktails were produced. The prototype version of Warlords was called "Castles and Kings" and was housed in a 4 player "Sprint 4 like" cabinet - it was huge. Only 2 versions of the prototype were made. The game was considered a success, although the large cabinet made it impossible to produce in large quantities nor was it feasible to install - hence the smaller cocktail design.
Warlords is a battle between four warlords, 1-4 of which can be controlled by the player(s). The objective is to destroy the three other castles while protecting ones own castle with a moving shield. Each castle is an L-shaped wall distinguished by a different color, each containing and protecting a Warlord icon (crown for player controlled Kings, a dark lord helmet for computer controlled Black Knights).
The weapons for accomplishing this are spinning fireballs which bounce off anything they touch, but destroy chunks of a castle wall on contact. Fireballs can be caught and held by shields and thrown for greater hitting force via a "Power stone" button, but at the cost of slowly deteriorating the player's own walls. When an icon is destroyed it releases another fireball onto the playfield, traveling in the opposite direction of the killing shot. The first fireball is launched by a dragon, and always at a human player. Subsequent fireballs, up to a maximum of four at once, appear after timeouts or when a warlord icon is destroyed.
The coin-op group developed the arcade version from the same "Castles and Kings" concept, adding and changing features to make the game more suitable for coin-operated play.
Its contemporaneous critical reception was quite positive. Warlords won an award for "Best 'Pong' Variant" and an honorable mention for "Best Competitive Game" at the 3rd annual Arkie Awards. Arkie Award judges characterized the game as "something really new and different in 'Pong'-style designs", and commented that Warlords "delivers plenty of on-screen excitement".:76
Richard A. Edwards reviewed the home cartridge version of Warlords in The Space Gamer No. 47. Edwards commented that "If you have a need for a multi-player game for your Atari, then that is it. But for one or two players, it'd be better to pass it up."
A port of Warlords, including a "remix" version, is included in Retro Atari Classics for the Nintendo DS. It allows multiplayer play through wireless. It was released on the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade on May 27, 2008, featuring a new special HD mode and Xbox Live Vision Camera support.
The arcade and Atari 2600 versions of Warlords were made available on Microsoft's Game Room service for its Xbox 360 console and for Windows-based PCs in June 2010 and December 2010 respectively. A new version of Warlords was released on PlayStation Network on October 9, 2012, in North America and October 10, 2012, in Europe. It was also released on Xbox Live Arcade on November 14, 2012.
In 2004, Bryan Edewaard developed and published an unlicensed homebrew version of Warlords for the Atari 5200 and Atari 8bit computers named Castle Crisis. In 2006, Darrell Spice Jr. released Medieval Mayhem, a homebrew Atari 2600 game inspired by Warlords.
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