Warlords on XBLA

Now this made me happy yesterday. I recalled reading the original press release back in November, but had forgotten all about it.

One of my absolute favorite games from my childhood was Warlords on the Atari 2600 and it's being remade for Xbox Live Arcade. It was a family-favorite that allowed four people to play simultaneously, each occupying an L-shaped "castle" in a corner of the screen. The castle was essentially three or four layers of orange and brown bricks that protected your King. Players used the paddle controllers to bounce a ricocheting canonball back and forth at one another a la the game Breakout. The catch was that you could literally catch the cannonball and then move real fast and fling it at another person's wall. The winner was the one whose King still stood.

I have great memories of playing this game in the basement, huddled around the television with my brother, father, and usually a friend or a visiting uncle. It was unique in that it allowed all four of us to play at once, and because it was easy enough for a 4-year old to play it, but it required a bit of skill to get any good at it. Or good enough to at least beat my father at it. The paddle controllers were perfect in that all you had to do was hold the button to catch the cannonball, then spin the wheel to move the "catapult". The design of the paddle controller made it possible to quickly juke left and right and reposition your catapult in a fraction of a second, thus making it possible to fake out your opponents with relative ease.

When I think about it, the game basically owed any success it had to the controller. And the more I begin to envision playing this with the standard X360 controller, the more I start to worry that this might not be as great as it could. The pace of the game, the four-player design, and the pick-up-and-play characteristics of the game make it a perfect compliment for XBLA, but I can't help but wonder how it's going to control. Rotating the Thumbstick on the controller in half-circles and quarter-circle motions is indeed possible, but it's not really fun to do. It actually gets pretty rough on the thumb after a while.

The 12 Achievements were posted yesterday and 10 of them are for single player game modes (against 3 AI opponents, undoubtedly) and two are for multiplayer. I normally prefer it when the Achievements are geared more towards single player gaming, but with this game, the whole point of it is to play against other humans. I hope the minimal inclusion of just 2 multiplayer Achievements doesn't indicate the developers' own lack of excitement towards that aspect of the game.

We'll find out one of these days. I have no idea when this game is coming out yet, but I'll be sure to post the moment it's available for download.

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