Whether for crippled controls, downgraded graphics or general lack of effort, games almost always get worse when they're ported to the iPhone. But what if you're adapting a concept from a plastic toy? Yeah, that works.
It doesn't take a lot of imagination to guess that the Battleship concept would work great on the iPhone, and to be fair, Hasbro and EA at actually kind of late to their own party—a handful of Battleship-style games that aren't quite infringey enough to get zapped by Hasbro's lawyers are still lurking around the games section of the App Store, and some of them are pretty popular. None, though, are nearly as good as the official version, which went live today.
Hasbro teamed up with Electronic Arts for this one, and it shows: The app has the same feel as EA's other franchise conversions, which is to say it's well produced, if a little overdone. All they really had to do to make this work was give us a literal port of the board game; instead, we get six gameplay modes—three single-player and three multiplayer—3D cutscenes and gratuitous animations. It's a little excessive, yeah, but by giving you a option to tap through or totally turn off the cutscenes, EA makes sure it doesn't get in the way.
The basic gameplay mode is a direct adaptation of the traditional Battleship game, Salvo Mode speeds things up by letting you fire as many shots as you have ships left, and Superweapons adds new firing options, starting with Air Strike, Frag Bomb, Chain Gun, and shield, with about ten more you can unlock over time. The multiplayer modes are what makes the game: you can simply pass the same iPhone between people, play over Bluetooth, or connect with Wi-Fi. My only real complaint is that it doesn't support some kind of push-based over-the-air multiplayer, which would be fantastic—imagine playing these games over a period of days or weeks, like we do on Facebook? Scrabble and a few other games have a decent system worked out, and it would be perfect for Battleship.
Slow-mode multiplayer or no slow-mode multiplayer, it's easy to figure out if you should buy Battleship. Do you enjoy the board game? Yeah? Then you'll probably enjoy this a little more. Three dollars. [iTunes]