Battleships

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Many of the games played in childhood lend themselves well to casino arcade versions, albeit with a slight twist or two to allow for wagering. Such is certainly the case with “Battleships,” the traditional two-person guessing game in which various sized “ships” are hidden within a numbered and lettered grid, the object being to sink the opponent’s Battleship before losing one’s own.

In the capable hands of software developer JPM Interactive, “Battleships” has become a challenging general knowledge quiz based on the classic game. The objective is to win cash prizes by correctly answering a series of general knowledge questions, thereby sinking ships. Each correct answer adds a “Hit” to a ship. Each ship that is sunk advances the player along the award bar. The more progress that’s made along the bar, the greater the prizes are.

The opening screen for Battleships is a bit of a throwback. A bearded pirate stands with his cutlass raised in his left hand and his right hand clenched in a fist. There is a three-mast sailing ship in the background, alongside a sandbar with palm trees in silhouette and the ruins of a rock wall.

To begin the game, choose a stake to wager, either £1 or £2, and then click on “Play.” A preview will be displayed of the 6 x 6 grid where the battleships are hiding. By paying close attention to their locations, it will be relatively easy to fire on them during the action rounds, clicking on grid positions to destroy the ships.

Each time a grid position is clicked on, it will reveal either a “Miss” of a “Hit.” If the shot hits a ship, flames will be displayed and the “Quiz” screen will appear. Beneath the randomly chosen question, three possible answers are shown on scrolls. Choose the correct answer by clicking on the right scroll and a cannon will fire causing a green check mark to appear on the answer. If the choice is incorrect, a red “X” will appear instead.

Questions are selected from any of seven categories of general knowledge: Science & Nature, A~Z, Entertainment, Pot Luck, Sport, Pop Music and People & Places. The questions in each game become progressively more challenging as the award bar is advanced. Timing is important, too; a limit is placed on how long is allowed to answer each question, as indicated by a burning fuse at the bottom of the screen. Correct answers earn another shot at the grid. One wrong answer is allowed if a “Try Again” parrot shows at the top left of the screen, but two wrong answers ends the game.

Points are won by hitting all the squares where a ship is hiding and thereby sinking it. The bigger the ship that is sunk, the more points are won, as shown in a chart to the right of the grid. Points for each ship sunk accumulate on the “Points Bar” at the top. It scrolls from left to right, gradually reaching collectable cash values. Once a cash value has been reached, it may be collected or else play may continue to win further prizes. The value of current winnings is displayed in red near the centre of the game screen.

The player must be careful not to accrue penalties. At the start of the game, six “shots” or “lives” are indicated on the Points Bar. Each shot fired at a grid position where no ship is hidden loses one life. Once all six lives are lost, the game is over. Also not that failure to shoot at a grid position within the allotted time will cause a shot to be fired at random.

Apart from the ships hidden on the grid, there is also a “Mystery Symbol” show as “???” If this symbol is hit, four Treasure Chests display. The player must pick one of them to reveal one of eleven possible awards: 1) a spot prize that cannot be lost, 2) two Try Again parrots (up to a maximum of three, 3) one Try Again parrot added, 4) lose a Try Again, 5) an Extra Life is gained (up to a maximum of six), 6) a life is lost, 7) all lives are lost, 8) a ship is hit, 9) a ship is sunk, 10) “Walk the Plank” ends the game, or 11) a “Pieces of 8” token is won.

Pieces of 8 tokens are collected toward the game’s “Live Jackpot.” It takes eight such tokens to win the bonus prize. Apart from gaining tokens from the Treasure Chests, it is also possible to accumulate them when shooting at ships on the grid.

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