Warlords is an action game by Atari first released in arcades in 1980 and ported to the Atari 2600 in 1981. The game resembles a mixture of Pong and Breakout for four players; four warlords, one located in each corner of the screen, are tasked with attempting to defeat other players by deflecting fireballs into opponent castles while defending their own castle.
Warlords features a top down view of the battlefield with an L-shaped castle wall placed in each of the 4 corners of the screen. Players control a shield which can move along the perimeter of the castle; the goal for each player is to protect their castle and be the last player standing. Dangers to the castles come in the form of fireballs (up to four can appear on the screen at once). The fireballs bounce continuously around the screen and will destroy portions of the castle walls if it comes into contact with them. Players need to guide their shield to deflect the fireballs away from their own castle while attempting to destroy their opponents' castles. If a large enough hole in the castle wall forms and a fireball makes it through and hits the warlord, that player is out of the game. Initially, there is only one fireball on the screen; when a player is defeated, an additional fireball is released. Fireballs also appear after certain intervals with up to four at once possible. Each player also has a "power stone" control option; by pressing the button, players can catch a fireball for a short interval and then fire it rapidly towards an opponent. There are always four players in the game; any of the castles that are not warlords (human controlled) will be computer controlled (black knights).
The arcade version of Warlords was available in both an upright cabinet and a cocktail table. The upright cabinet version utilized a 23" black & white monitor and simulated color with an overlay on top of the monitor; Additionally, a two-way mirror is utilized to reflect the display over a background of the battle field and castle walls giving the game a 3D appearance. This version was limited to only 2 players due to space constraints; the top two warlords were always computer controlled. The cocktail table version used a 14" color monitor and ommitted the colored overlays and background. This version supported 4 players with 2 players on each side of the table.
The Atari 2600 version includes additional game variations which affect the game difficulty, ball speed, whether or not the shields catch or reflect a ball, and a doubles option where each player controls two shields.
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