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Electronic-assisted version of classic graph paper game Battleship. Published by Milton Bradley.

If you're not familiar with Battleship, you have a grid (usually 10x10) and a fleet of ships, which traditionally consists of:

  • A 5-square long aircraft carrier
  • A 4-square long battleship
  • A 3-square long cruiser
  • A 3-square long submarine
  • A 2-square long destroyer/PT boat/gunboat (whatever you like)
  • The game is played by 'firing' at co-ordinates and, if your opponent has a ship there, destroying one square of it. Destroy all squares of a ship, and it sinks.

    Electronic Battleship, how it works

    You have a large plastic console board with a flat 10x10 peg grid, and a vertical 10x10 peg grid, which also stops you seeing your opponent's pieces. You also have plastic renditions of the classic ships, with holes in the tops to mark off where they have been hit. To your side in two compartments are a ton of red and white pegs.

    In front of you is a rudimentary computer console, consisting of a red fire button and two sliding buttons labeled 'CM' and A-J, and 'CE' and 1-10. To operate the button, slide it to the appropriate slot and push it in... very clever. Above the buttons is a silhouette of a ship with a red light behind it. This flashes whenever something is hit.

    Programming the game could either be done by painstakingly entering the coordinates of each SQUARE of each ship one by one or by simply punching in the combination of one of the many pre-programmed fleet positionings in the manual. Once this was done, the Fire Button would be held to a 'wooop!' sound (meant to be a destroyer siren, probably)

    Once playing, a repetitive 'sonar' sound would be constantly heard - 'BEEP! Bip-bip-bip-bip' - and you would be encouraged by nearby parents to hurry the hell up and win. Taking it in turns, you punch in a co-ordinate - B7, say, and push fire. With a mighty whistle, the shell arcs off into the air... and, after a tense pause, nothing happens. So, on your vertical board, you put a white peg into B7 to show you missed, and ensure you don't stupidly waste a turn firing there again.

    Your opponent then fires, at C9. Your aircraft carrier is there. The shell comes screeching in... and there's a mighty explosion, and the ship picture above the buttons flashes. Your opponent announces which square they just hit. They mark a red peg on their vertical board at C9, and you stick a red peg into your aircraft carrier's ass at C9. on your horizontal board.

    And so it goes, until someone's fleet is completely destroyed, and the computer sounds the 'woop' sound three times indicating victory. Congratulations.

    Variations

    To keep it interesting, variations involving a wolf pack of submarines and a submarine tender were suggested in the manual, as well as diagonal ships and even cluster ships (make your four square cruiser into a Borg Cube-style box, for example). Unfortunately, these all required the tedious manual-programming sequence.

    Radio Shack released their own bootleg version, which had the bonus that the vertical boards folded down and closed, turning the game into its own storage/carry case. It also replaced the sliding buttons with two rows of 11 buttons, to save on wear and tear. A talking edition was also released, with better sound effects and a few soundbites, "You sunk my battleship!" being the obvious favourite.

    A vastly improved and far more entertaining version of the game exists in the magnificent Game Boy cartridge Radar Mission.

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