Atari is mining its classic properties as fast as it can push out reasonably modern downloadable remakes. Warlords’ basic design isn’t any less fun than it was in the ‘80s, and a few twists on the formula prevent it from being a literal up-ressed port.
Playing Warlords on the E3 show floor started out manageable enough. I easily deflected the fireball bouncing around the square 2D playing field away from my castle walls by rotating my shield with the left stick. Heck, I even got fancy and caught it for later powered-up shooting with the A button a few times. The AI players failed a few times, and their defenses started to crack.
Two fireballs, three, no big deal. We’re rocking. Around this point I notice that I’ve got a little guy I can move around the field with the right stick. Even smaller dudes are running out of my castle, milling around the controllable banner carrier. Neat. Turns out they can capture power-up glyphs that spawn in the middle of the board, fight the other players’ dudes, or go bash on the other players’ castles.
Why is there a black knight pounding the bejeezus out of my walls? Apparently his services are one of those power-ups. I should probably get those. It seems like every time I move my bannerman I miss one or two of the bouncing fireballs with my shield. My walls are in rough shape.
Wait, what? I guess one of the AI players was doing worse than I was. I suppose I am playing on Easy. The good news is that the five fireballs are reset to a single one after someone gets knocked out. The bad news is that there are still a bunch of power-ups active, and I keep getting my controls reversed. We’re back up to three fireballs already? Grand.
Repeat the above paragraph twice more and I seem to have won. I honestly didn’t have a spare moment to glance at anyone else’s castle during the whole round, so it’s a jarring surprise every time a player’s final moments are broadcast across the screen.
I think I had fun, though. The memory is kind of a blur. I suppose I could play classic mode without the banner carriers and power-ups if I wanted to. I could even get some friends and play 2v2 or free-for-all with up to four of them locally or online. Mostly I think I’m going to take a nap.
Warlords comes out later this summer for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.