Warlords

aka: Kings in the Corner break-out game
Moby ID: 9143
Atari 2600 Specs
Included in Original See Also

Description official descriptions

In Warlords, you need to defend yourself from three human and/or computer players. Each of the four players are in one of the corners of the screen guarded by a castle. You control a small shield which can be moved around the edge of the castle. To survive you need to use the shield to block a ball which bounces around the screen. If the ball hits your castle, it will take out some of the bricks. If a hole forms in the castle wall and the ball makes it through and hits your warlord, then you are out of the game. The last player left alive wins the battle, and the first player to win five battles wins the game! Several game options are included which allow you to either catch or ricochet the ball when the shield touches it and control the speed of the game.

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Credits (Atari 2600 version)

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Cover Artwork

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 79% (based on 10 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.2 out of 5 (based on 31 ratings with 2 reviews)

Battle of the warlords

The Good
Once upon a time in a faraway land, King Frederick decided to start a family with his wife Queen Christina and soon gave birth to quadruplets who were to later grow up to be strong men. Frederick had hoped his four sons – Dominick, Marcus, Felipe, and Restivo – were as peaceful as their father. But instead, they waged war over anything and everything. Fearing that the kingdom would be destroyed after he was gone, Frederick told the four to conduct their business elsewhere and banished them to a forbidden land. It’s in this land that they became warlords, dividing their newly-acquired territory into four quadrants, in which they built their own castles. They attacked each other with catapults and lightning bolts, only to take a break while they rebuild their damaged and war-torn castles. After that, the battle recommenced with greater ferocity.

Up to four players control one of Frederick’s sons. All of them are supplied with a shield, which they use to deflect the ball away from their castle in which their warlord resides, while at the same time directing it toward their opponent’s castles. If the ball touches any of the castle’s walls, it will take a chunk out of the castle; and if it hits a warlord, the player who was supposed to protect it is out of the game, which continues until one player has scored a total of five matches.

Warlords is an addictive game that I never got to play since I didn’t have an Atari 2600 at the time, and Atarisoft took no interest in porting the game over to other platforms. Having said that, I had the luxury of playing the game through Stella, an open-source Atari 2600 emulator. When I first heard of the title, I thought Warlords would be a role-playing game of some sort. I was quite surprised that it is actually a cross between Breakout and Quadrapong.

The game doesn’t have spectacular graphics as its arcade cousin, due to hardware limitations, but Atari made up for it by adding twenty-four variations, which are listed at the top of the screen, along with the number of players. The first few let you determine how many players are to participate, while the last four are aimed at children, basically making the ball not reach lightning speeds. A feature unique to the Atari 2600 are the white flashes seen briefly when one of the castles takes a hit. I like these because you can get a glimpse of the dead warlord in the corner of the screen.

The Bad
Warlords was released at a time when games were addictive. There are hardly any flaws I can think of.

The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Warlords is an enjoyable game that can be played by up to four players. It contains a mixture of Breakout and Quadrapong, in that you must ricochet your ball off your paddle. The only difference is if you miss the ball, part of your castle will take a hit. There are nice variations to this game, including the ability to control two paddles at once. This is another Atari 2600 classic that deserves to be in your collection.

Atari 2600 · by Katakis | カタキス (43087) · 2022

A game that should be canonized for its contribution to multiplayer video gaming.

The Good
This is the game that brought me in from the arcades and opened my eyes to the fact that playing home consoles could actually pull off tricks not found in the arcade at that time. Up until I played Warlords, my multiplayer experience involved switching back and forth between 1P and 2P in the arcade or 1-on-1 pong/combat at home.

The gameplay is simple: 4 players defend their castles pong-style with a shield/paddle from a ball of destruction being bounced about. Certain modes allowed players to grab the ball, others didn't. As the match progressed, the ball sped up. Last castle standing wins.

This game single-handedly united the neighborhood I grew up in. Kids from 6 to 12, normally very sensitive to age differences, fought over open paddles to get in on 4-on-4 action and play somebody regardless of age, sex, etc. As a 9-year old at that time, I took a lot of pride in the fact that I got to hang out with the "older kids" whenever I played Warlords: I was renowned for my defense and would get invited over for tag-team matches. At the time, it was flippin' awesome.

I can't believe that it's been 25 years, and Warlords is still for me the purest multiplayer video gaming experience I've ever had.

The Bad
Honestly, this game is pure goodness. What is bad is that it wasn't more widely played at the time. Had it been more popular, games like Gauntlet and Quake would've showed up much sooner. I'm crazy and stupid enough to believe that.

The Bottom Line
A true classic. A masterwork. People who played and "got" Warlords were automatically 15 or 20 years ahead of their time in terms of understanding the essence of multiplayer video gaming.

Though playing it now would be a novelty and isn't going to open your eyes to anything mind-blowing, it's worth checking out if you can just to see how the idea of multiplayer gaming is a pretty simple concept. And it's a concept that Warlords nailed cold in a decade long, long ago.

Atari 2600 · by MagFram (33) · 2005

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Warlords appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Awards

  • Flux Magazine
    • (Issue #4) - #78 on the "Top 100 Video Games of All-Time" list
  • Game Informer Magazine
    • August 2001 (Issue #100) - #25 on the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll
  • Retro Gamer Magazine
    • (Issue #46) - #8 on the “Top 25 Atari 2600” Games poll

Information also contributed by Big John WV

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  • MobyGames ID: 9143
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Servo.

Arcade added by FatherJack. Windows, Xbox 360 added by Alaka.

Additional contributors: PCGamer77, Alaka, Pseudo_Intellectual, FatherJack.

Game added May 9, 2003. Last modified May 11, 2024.