Was the battle worth the wait?
By Gregory D. GeorgeAugust 1, 2000
I've waited... Hmm... 5 years for this game!
Now we're talking! This a starbase in need of protection.
See the pretty lens flare? This ship is about to be toast.
The explosions in this game are a sight to behold. Wait until you see them up close!
Just the name of this game alone conjures up thoughts of a grand battle. Not
so much a battle in space but a battle to get created. It was a monumental
task considering the following:
- A three person development team working in their spare time making
development a slow arduous process for all involved.
- No development support from Atari, also slowing down the development
- Various legal issues concerning the purchase of Atari by JTS then
- A loss of the encryption algorithm as a result of Atariís purchase.
- Finding the hardware for the carts and burning the code onto them.
- Printing manuals and the boxes.
- Taking the orders and mailing them all out
- Learning that there werenít enough carts to go around making 4Play
have to go through steps 5 through 7 all over again.
did 4Play go through this for so many years? Is BattleSphere that
good of a game? Or were they just proving that they can keep their
long-standing promise to release their game for the comatose jungle cat?
Personally, I think itís both.
"BattleSphere is so good." Iím
sure youíve heard that same statement dozens of times over the years
without any basis in physical proof. Naturally the developer is going to say
itís a great game! Of course a few playtesters and fanatics who are
supervised by the developers would say it was good. But what about the
average game player? Would they like a game of BattleSphere? Most
The graphics in BattleSphere are so good
that youíll wonder if youíre really playing a "16-bit" Atari
Jaguar. We all know the Jaguar is 64-bit but many of the games that were
developed look very 16-bit. Not so with BattleSphere. The ships are
all nicely shaded gouroud polygons with just enough decalmapping (tm) to
make them look realistic. Many are humorously outlandish. The Oppressorís
ships have a very male oriented theme, while the Seíbab have a decidedly
anti-male look to them. Particularly the Seíbab supership which looks like a
giant flying axe. Look out Bobbit!
More graphic treats are in store for you upon
blasting those ships to bits. The explosions are excellent and you definitely
feel a sense of power as you watch the pieces fly off in several directions.
Starbases are large and appropriately designed for the species you are
commanding. Another cool graphic effect is when your ship becomes immobilized.
Everything outside becomes a smeared mess reminiscent of a Jeff Minter VLM
The Main Menu graphics are creative but can be
difficult to read. The "rotating spheres" effect is cool but seem
like an afterthought. In addition, the Main Menu options could have drawn
themselves faster. I want to play BattleSphere not watch menu options! The
ship select screen is nice but itís difficult to read the ship stats and
view the ship at the same time. Moving the ship stats to the side would have
fixed this problem. And with all the polish and creativity put into this game what happened
with the game options screen? It uses a standard font with a
"flying through space" background. Also, why does it appear
after the ship select in the Training mode but before the ship select
in all other modes? Curious...
The music in BattleSphere is so good
youíll wonder if youíve got a CD playing in your Jaguar CD. There
are more tracks than Tempest 2000, however they are shorter and
can get repetitive after long periods of play. Nevertheless, the music
is some of the best Iíve ever heard ranking BattleSphere up
there with the likes of Defender 2000 and BattleMorph. The
sound effects are also especially good. Old school Atarians might
recognize several sound effects lifted from BattleSphereís
inspiration, the original Star Raiders for the Atari 8-bit
computer. Explosions, engine noise, lasers, and photons all help capture
the feel of an epic space battle game.
The gameplay in BattleSphere is so
good youíll think youíre
piloting a Viper fighter from Battlestar Galactica. There are a lot of
controls to get used to but it wonít take long before youíre
barrel-rolling through explosions and dodging blasts from the ejected
pilots. I canít think of a game where the controls were so absolutely
perfect. A lot of that comes from the fact that the game is so fast that
any moment you execute will not be hampered
by frame rate. Think about
how difficult it is to control Hover Strike with itís lousy
frame rate and youíll appreciate BattleSphereís sheer speed.
My only issue with control has nothing to do with the smooth control
itself. In my first few games I would constantly turn the wrong way
because I was used to the "above" view of radar systems. BattleSphereís
radar is comprised of "front" and "rear" units
instead of above which takes a little getting used to.
All of the enemy ships in BattleSphere have a remarkable amount of
artificial intelligence. Fire at a trio of ships, and two of them will move away.
Often times they will attempt to come at you from behind to get a bead
on you. Some ships will attempt to distract you allowing others will attack
your starbases. Kamikaze runs are common as the enemy attempts to
destroy your bases. And I donít know if they do this on purpose or not but they will frequently dive directly
at you. Luckily, a collision
will not destroy your ship and will only knock it slightly off course.
As it says on the box, BattleSphere has more secrets than Area
51 and Roswell. Iím sure thatís true and there are even a few secrets
on the back of the box. Iíve only found one secret during the game
which appears in a Forrest fire-like background with scrolling
text including the code. I only wish it would tell you what the code
Would BattleSphere have achieved this same cult following if
it had been released at the same time as the other great Jaguar games
like T2K, Battlemorph, Rayman, Iron Soldier, Doom,
and AvP? Itís naive to think BattleSphere could have saved
Atari but it certainly wouldnít have hurt.
Not to mention that a game developed and released for a viable system
might have helped 4Play break into the games industry. Witness the
porting of Rayman, Iron Soldier and T2K to the PSX.
Or how about the spectacular version of Aliens vs. Predator
recently released for the PC? If BattleSphere had been released
during the Jaguarís lifetime, perhaps weíd be seeing a PSX port of
the game. But then again, would we really want that to happen? Better to
keep it a Jaguar exclusive.
Get BattleSphere any way you can, even for $100 on Ebay, itís
a good deal. Itís a fabulous game and one of the Jaguarís Top 5. Iíd
even go so far as to say itís one of the Top 20 games of all time.
Q: Where can I get a copy of
A: Your best bet at this point would be an auction site or to wait for another run from
Q: I heard there are a lot of secrets in this game. Is that true?
A: Absolutely! Check out
The Atari Times' BattleSphere Codes!