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Warlords - The Atari Times


The peasants didn't revolt, nor flock to the arcades
by Darryl Brundage

June 27, 2014
Here's a bit of a different game for the arcades, as it combined the elements of Breakout, using shields, and trying to blow away other players in the process of a frantic match, along with having up to four players (on the tabletop model) as well, which still to this day doesn't happen a lot with arcade games.

In this classic deathmatch of pixelated proportions, the player(s) must use fireballs to try to pick away at enemies' castle walls (made very obvious by the bright colorful blocks on the screen; oh gee!  Looks very medieval indeed!) in order to destroy their king.  And, they must use their shield to repel any fireballs that come their way as well.

Each game begins with a dragon (at least you can TELL it's a dragon this time around, unlike with Adventure's duck-like ones that suffer from Dragon Envy) belching out a fireball onto the playfield.  The fireball then starts bouncing around the screen (I guess there's no moats with water around the castles to put the fireballs out) and players move their shields to try to keep the fireballs away from their castle and to knock out the walls of enemies (hence the Breakout-like part) to try to destroy the enemy kings.  Aye, the good ol' days, where they use royalty and knights, rather than expendable, common peasants for their games!  (Wait, when did that ever happen, exactly?)

Destroying a king takes it out of for the remainder of the level, and if there's at least one human player left alive at the end of a round, they'll move onto the next, faster cycle.  Players can catch the fireballs with a press of a button, but more and more fireballs get added to the game as time (and rounds won) goes on to the point where if ye even THINK of blinking, ye king shall be winking...out!  (Ok, no more rhymes here, I promise.)

The game's graphics were only ok for the time though, and the sound effects adequate.  At least there were no problems at all with the dial controllers though, those worked great (not much to go wrong with just moving left and right, along with catching and releasing fireballs either!).

However, this was a killer game...if you had more than one player available, since, if you lost a round, the game would end right then and there, which seemed to be a bit of a ripoff of a quarter to end your game so quickly (in case you didn't do well).  But, again, the games will last a bit longer if at least one human player is still alive at the end of a round.  Because there's a big difference in between not knowing that when you're playing the ROM on MAME by yourself if you were versed with the 2600 version first, knowing you could (for free!) just press the reset button one more (dozen) time(s); here it seemed like a big ripoff if it was over too quickly.  And it's an even BIGGER difference when you would play it years later at a gaming expo like I did in 2009 with my nephew, as we had a blast then, playing many games of it.  Yep, there were TWO of these at the expo, which was unbelievable, and they got a lot of play too :)

And speaking of which, this is one of the rare cases where the home version did way better than the arcade version did, as I only saw this at one arcade ever back in the day (hence my surprise as to finding two of these at the 2009 expo: these have to be really rare machines nowadays!), and you can understand why from the one player standpoint: unless you're decent at it, your game could be over with pretty quick.  And it's nowhere near as fun without an additional one to three more players aboard either (hence why I didn't rate this 85%, since I feel the game's fun is weakened with how quickly a one player game could be over with.  I also rate the gameplay at 85 if you have more than one player along, but only 75 if it's just yourself playing).

Bad news for those kings from back then...but either way, you know the peasants didn't give a royal rat's butt about it though.


(c) Atari

Warlords. The game. The myth. The legendary game that kicks all @$$.
It's basically 4-player Break-IN!
System: Arcade
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 60%
Sound & Music Score: 60%
Gameplay Score: %
Control Score: 95%

Final Score: 80%

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