Friday, April 25, 2008


While it's hard to take serious, KBattleship* is actually the best KDE game I've played so far. Sure, it's a simple game from the getty-up and nothing is added feature-wise that makes it any deeper than the board game. But it works, it's not a hideous C.H.U.D. (this is not a C.H.U.D. reference, but rather a Clerks II reference, since I'm referring to the fact that KBattleship is not ugly, and not claiming that it doesn't kill people due to mutation (it may)), and it's kinda fun.

How does it play? Oh, come on - you know how it plays. There's a grid. You place a couple of shifts on that grid, of varying sizes. Your opponent does the same. Then you randomly pick spots of your opponents grid to blow the hell up, in the hopes of thoroughly decimating their fleet of battleships.

That's all there is to KBattleship. It doesn't add any weird modes of play, or power-ups, or anything at all, really. It's just a game of Battleship (that's right, I italicize game titles, but not board-game titles). On the other hand, it's a game of Battleship that features an AI opponent and support for network multi-player, so it's better than the board-game, all other things being equal.

And they are! The field of play is sprite-based, so it's not uber-sexy 3D but it's exactly what you get with the board-game: chunks of ship and ocean to be utilized as you see fit. Since the board-game is basically tile-based, you lose nothing whatsoever in the translation, and gain the ability to play it alone or with friends in Antarctica.

The sound is better than the talking version of the board-game, despite the fact that it does not talk. The explosion sounds are nice n' bassy, compared to that tinny crap-speaker mess I heard on the TV commercials back in the day. The sound of a missed shot, a shot scored on your opponent, and a shot scored by your opponent are all different in a lovable way. You get a basic explosion sound when you hit the other guy, but when you get hit, there's a hull-ringing clang of explosiveness that lets you know bad things are afoot.

To sum up in a slightly anti-climactic way, KBattleship is another game that I'm sad won't really appeal to anyone. Because really, who the hell is dying for a chance to play Battleship on their damn computer? On the plus side, I feel less guilty about not recommending it because it's really simple and I suspect that it didn't take all that much work (comparatively speaking).

If you are, by some strange chance, longing to play Milton Bradley's classic on your Linux box, KBattleship is everything you could want. Unless you want shiny happy pretty graphics that don't really add anything, of course, in which case you will probably be disappointed by 90% of what the open-source community offers anyway.

*Yeah, for the record, the screenshots on the official page on the KDE Games site look nothing like the version you get from the repositories. I hate to keep bringing this up, but I think this version I played (that you get from the repositories) is woefully out of date. Just, y'know, for the record.

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