August 25, 1998
One of the most anticipated moments at last weekend's World
of Atari show in Las Vegas was the unveiling of 4Play's
Battlesphere. After a colorful speech by company founders
Scott LeGrand and Stephanie Wukovitz, attendees were shuffled over
to the demonstration area where four Jaguars came alive with
refreshing images of the long awaited multi-player deathfest.
The game plays like the classic Star Raiders, only retrofitted
with a 90s flare. The graphics move quickly and smoothly, achieving
effects equal to those found on a PlayStation or Nintendo 64. Out of
respect to the original Star Raiders, enemy missiles are modelled
after the classic masterpiece. The opponent AI is dead on and easily
adjustable, ranging from an easy mode of play to Minter mode (A tip
of the hat to the creator of Tempest 2000).
Every button on the keypad is used, but essentially breaks down
to three rows of the same control options, so mastering the controls
is fairly simple. Multiplayer mode is fantastic, and proved more
stable than Jaguar's problematic Doom, which was notorious
for syncing problems.
The music by Stephanie Wukovitz is excellent, surpassing every
stereotypical limitation of the cartridge format. LeGrand explains
the sound as "John Williams meets Danny Elfman meets Techno." The
sound effects are another highlight, paying homage wherever possible
to the classic Star Raiders by actually incorporating the same sound
In the end, the wait was worth it. It's too bad that the game
will not receive the large audience it deserves. When asked if it
would be ported to another system, Scott leGrand was optimistic.
"We'd love to," he said. "Anyone interested in funding it?"
Given the quality of the game, that shouldn't be a problem.
Battlesphere is definitely one of the best Jaguar games,
sharing top honors with Tempest 2000. The only problem with
the game may be finding a copy.