Battleships logo

Price: £19.99

This is the game, many of you may remember, which Elite programmed for the 64, advertised, sent out for review and subsequently withdrew because "it wasn't up to scratch". That, you may also remember, was after I said it was jolly good fun and much better than playing on scraps of paper. Aren't I the complete pillock?

Not really. The 64 version has subsequently appeared on a one of Elite's many compilations and they have budget plans for it. If it appears for a couple of quid take my advice and snap it up, because it's a bargain. It's neat, unfussy and absorbing and what's more the 16 bit version doesn't differ a great deal from it.

I mean there's not a tremendous lot you can do with a game like Battleships, it's so simple that you risk going over the top trying to tart it up and turn into a Carrier Command or something.

The gameplay, for anyone who hasn't seen the original or sat around on a wet Sunday afternoon and played it on a bit of their maths book, is simple. Construct a large grid, as big as you like as long as you can produce decent coordinates from it, and put down a set of shapes constructed from squares.

To fire at each other you simply call out the coordinates. This the 64 version all managed very adequately. So how does the 16 bit version merit appearing on the shelves when the 8 bit version was deemed not good enough?

Well, erm, it's quicker, and it's got speech. The computer lays down its salvos in no time at all and a BBC World Service Voice says "Fire 12 shots at enemy" in a deadpan voice. All of which doesn't amount to a great deal.

The graphics really aren't of that much consequence anyway, but the Amiga has an animated screen where the cannons fire a salvo of shells. In this version the guns fire very realistically but, oh no, the ships don't sink, they get a bit flattened and then they just disappear.

So what we have is a slightly more polished version of a game you could buy for a couple of quid except it's going to cost you closer to twenty in this format. Take my advice, but the cheapo when it appears and put the rest towards a 64 emulator.