Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 8, NO. 7 / DECEMBER 1989


Naval Battle

Slick, flashy version of an old favorite.

By John Hutchinson and David Rajala

Naval BattleThis issue's super-duper third Disk Bonus is Naval Battle, a flashy, colorful version of the classic Battleship game. This BASIC game works on 8-bit Atari computers with at least 48K memory and disk driver. A joystick is required, or two joysticks are optional.

Remember that game you used to play with pencil and paper where you hid a battleship and other sea- going craft on a grid? You and your opponent would take turns firing salvos by calling out coordinates like "A-1" or "G-9," trying intently to find and sink each other's ships. It was fun, but drawing up the grids was often just as difficult as finding someone to play with.

Well, now all you frustrated would-be admirals can experience the thrills of combat on the high seas with Naval Battle. This extra-slick Atari 8-bit version boasts sharp graphics and sounds, complete with the boom of naval artillery and the splash of a watery miss.

The authors of this impressive effort have plenty of military background to draw from. David Rajala is a retired military officer, currently working as a defense analyst in Washington, D.C. Major John Hutchinson is an Operations Research Systems Analyst for the Army.


The entire back side of the Antic Monthly Disk has been used for Naval Battle, which will boot automatically. Just put the Antic Disk in drive one with side B up (label side down). Turn the computer off an then on again with BASIC (XL/XE owners don't hold down [OPTION]) and the game loads and runs automatically.

You can try your skill against a computer opponent, compete with another human player, or just sit back and watch the computer play both roles all by itself. There is even a choice of difficulty levels for handicapping young or inexperienced players.

Use your joystick to select from the game options. Press the [SPACEBAR] to pause the game or then resume. Press [ESCAPE] or [RESET] to end the game in progress.


DEMO MODE pits the computer against itself. To join in the action yourself, choose 1 PLAYER mode to compete against the computer, or 2 PLAYER to play against another human.

In two-player mode you have the further option of using two joysticks, or sharing a single stick. The computer hides the ships for both players, so you don't have to worry about accidentally seeing the other player's layout. Players also get to choose different difficulty levels.

The three difficulty levels range from ENSIGN, the easiest, to CAPTAIN and ADMIRAL. As the level increases, the human player is allowed less time to place shots -- and the computer uses more artificial logic in planning its shots. If you beat the computer consistently at ADMIRAL level you should join the Navy. Your country needs you!

Other options let you choose between playing with sound effects or without. If you would rather fight your battle in relative silence you will considerably speed up the process as well.


In single player mode you can place your ships yourself, using the joystick, or let the computer do it. Your fleet consists of five ships of varying lengths -- an Aircraft Carrier (5 squares), a Battleship (4 squares), a Destroyer (3 squares), a Submarine (3 squares) and a PT Boat (2 squares). These ships are all drawn in detail -- you can even see the tiny planes on the deck of the carrier.

You can place each ship either horizontally or vertically by positioning a flashing cursor on the game grid and pressing the joystick trigger. Once all your ships are positioned, the computer asks if the placement is okay, giving you a chance to re-position your ships.


Player number one (or the human player in a one-player game) always goes first. Using your joystick, move the flashing cursor across your opponent's green game grid. Select a position where you think he might have hidden a ship and press the joystick button. You'll hear the sound of a naval gun being fired, followed by either a splash if you missed or explosion if you scored a hit. The game grid will display a white square for a miss. A red square indicates a hit.

If you hit a ship, one segment of the appropriate ship on the Hit Indicator will also turn red. The Hit Indicator shows how many sections of the ship have been hit, but not which ones. You'll have to figure that out by trial and error.

Then your opponent takes his turn. If you are playing against the computer, your ships will remain visible on the blue game grid. If you are playing a two player game, both opponent's ships will remain hidden from view. You and your opponent will continue to take turns until the game ends.

The first player to sink all of his opponent's ships is the winner. The computer will then briefly display the winner's ship placement so the loser can see how close his shots were. You can then either change your game options, or start another exciting naval encounter with the same settings.


When playing Naval Battle you want to maximize the effectiveness of your shots. One of the best strategies is to first go after your opponent's largest remaining ship, selecting grid squares where the ship could fit both vertically and horizontally. You can also stagger your shots in a checkerboard pattern. Try to avoid placing two shots side-by-side. This way you can logically eliminate squares where your opponent's ships cannot possible fit, without having to actually waste a shot on them.

Your computer opponent uses this strategy to find the most logical hiding spots for your ships. A series of "artificial logic" routines help simulate the human decision making process.

The computer will vary its ship placement each game and may even place its ships side-by-side in an attempt to fool you. The computer should prove a worthy opponent, but it is certainly not infallible. Follow its lead and use logic in placing your shots, and you should be able to beat it.

Your Antic Disk -- featuring Naval Battle plus two additional Super Disk Bonuses as well as every type- in program from this issue -- will be shipped to you within 24 hours after receiving your order. Just phone Toll-Free to the Antic Disk Desk at (800)234-7001. The monthly disk is only $5.95 (plus $2 for shipping and handling) on your Visa or MasterCard. Or mail a $5.95 check (plus $2 shipping and handling) to Antic Disk Desk, 544 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107.