GAME NAME: Sea Battle
DEVELOPER(S): WaiS CO., LTD.
PLATFORM(S): Nintendo 3DS, eShop
RELEASE DATE(S): April 24th, 2014
I have a small secret that most people don’t know about me. I love me some Battleship. When I was just a boy I would beg my family to play all the time. When I saw electronic Battleship on a commercial for the first time I absolutely lost it. As most young kids do, I tried to invent my own rules for the game; add-on weapons and functionality for ships to spice things up! Sadly, it never took and eventually no one wanted to play. Why am I talking about Battleship on a DSi-Ware game review? Because that is exactly what WaiS’s new title Sea Battle is: Battleship, renamed, but presented in all its tactical glory!
There are a handful of different ways to play the game. Classic mode is the game of Battleship we all know and love with the choice of either an 8×8 or 10×10 square to play in. Each player places ships horizontally or vertically along the grid and then take turns selecting squares in the enemy’s grid to fire upon. You will be notified if you hit, or if you miss, and you must determine your next target from there. If a ship is hit a certain number of times (depending on the size of the vessel), it sinks.
Modern mode did have some surprises in store, however! For starters, your choice in the size of playing field really opens up. 8×8, 10×10, 12×12, 14×14, or 16×14 size maps with an appropriate number of added ships to place for the bigger maps are available. The second thing you’ll notice is land masses on the maps that you will not be able to place ships on. The land masses seem to be either randomly generated each game, or several different maps are cycled through each time that grid-size is selected. I have yet to come across the same pattern more than once, but I would not at all be surprised if it happens.
The next nuance you’ll find is that you can now place your fleet diagonally on the board! It seems like such a trivial change, but to me it’s a huge game-changer. Along with your newly slantable fleet, you can place some mines in the ocean. Like the ships, the larger maps allocate you a larger amount of mines to place. I was confused on the functionality of these until an enemy hit one and lost a turn. Dangerous! They only take up one square and are quite the nasty surprise. More than once after hitting a ship a few times, I continued firing in that pattern only to find that I had fired behind the vessel and hit a mine!
In Modern Mode, a miss isn’t entirely a bad thing, either! Occasionally you’ll see a “Lucky!” notification pop up on the square you fired upon, and your next turn will automatically use radar that shows enemy ship locations (all at once, good luck memorizing it in the short timespan!) or deploy a four-square spanning attack. Your Carrier ship will also occasionally launch a fighter jet onto the field as long as it hasn’t been sunk. This one-square fighter does not seem to offer any extra functionality aside from just being something extra your enemy has to blow up.
Aside from the normal single player matches, there are also a few missions the player can tackle that are played with the Modern Mode rule-set. These are specific scenarios such as facing an entire fleet with a single ship, or sink a ship in a mine field that must be completed sequentially before the next can be selected.
The difficulty is varied between stupid and genius with very little middle ground. An opponent on normal difficulty will fire randomly across the map until it strikes something. It will continue to fire around that ship until it has been hit twice, and then will begin firing randomly again. Expert difficulty seems to almost cheat at times and has a drastically higher success rate in finding your ships and will strike them mercilessly. A better balance in the computer A.I. would really extend the “shelf-life” of this title as frustration can set in for being too easy or too difficult.
Sea Battle is not pushing the hardware graphically by any means, but it does present a very clean and clear interface. There is never a moment where a player should be confused, visually. On your turn, the bottom screen shows the targeting grid with full touch screen functionality! The audio tracks are repetitive, but not obtrusive at all and the military-themed score finds its place quite nicely in the background. Playing with the sound on is not likely to annoy the player, but may eventually annoy those hanging around.
If you’re a fan of the classic board game Battleship and want to take it with you on the go, then this is your jam! The AI can either be predictably easy or frustratingly difficult. There is a network play option, but it seems to be AdHoc only, so unless you know a similarly enthused friend, don’t count on that bringing a human touch to what I would otherwise consider a pretty decent gem.