Cover art of the original release of BattleSphere in all regions
|Designer(s)||Scott Le Grand
|Programmer(s)||Scott Le Grand
|Artist(s)||Scott Le Grand
|Release||February 29, 2000 (original)
March 15, 2002 (Gold)
June 9, 2006 (Trio)
Multi-player (up to 32 players via Jaglink, ICD's Catbox or ScatoLOGIC's Scat-Box)
BattleSphere is a space combat simulator video game developed and published exclusively for the Atari Jaguar by 4Play/ScatoLOGIC Inc. in February 29, 2000. Released well after the discontinuation of the system, the parts, components and other supplies needed for the manufacturing process of the cartridges were scarce and not easily accessible at the time of the release, resulting in not enough copies to meet demand. It is heavily influenced by many science fiction works and video games, most notably Star Raiders. A second edition of the game, with additional features and improvements, was released as BattleSphere Gold in 2002. In 2006, a third one of a kind edition, with added features called BattleSphere Trio was auctioned off on eBay. Although ScatoLOGIC Inc. will not release sales figures, a few hundred copies are known to have been manufactured. The first copy of BattleSphere was sold on eBay for over $1500.
BattleSphere was originally called Star Battle, named after a mainframe game written by one of its creators back when he was in high school. PlayNet, the forerunner of AOL, almost bought Star Battle for its online services in 1986. The game was first announced in 1995, although it was first demonstrated in the SCES of 1994 with the working title Star Battle. It was later demonstrated in E3 1995.
After Hasbro bought out Atari, it took relentless lobbying by the BattleSphere fanbase and much behind the scenes persuasion to convince Atari to release the Jaguar console into the public domain. Without this event, BattleSphere, though completed in July 1998, would not have been allowed to be encrypted and released.
Concealed within Battlesphere is JUGS (The Jaguar Unmodified Game Server). JUGS allows anyone to develop and run Jaguar games if they own a copy of BattleSphere and a Catbox. BattleSphere was the first Jaguar game to include a development system hidden within it.
Despite the unusual length of time involved, the development budget for BattleSphere was rumored to be less than $10,000. The game's release was not without controversy with some customers complaining that insufficient copies were available.
Taken from the introductory sequence:
800 years in the future, the galaxy is in turmoil. Each of the seven known races has exploited and polluted its own homeworld until the colonization of new planets has become a necessity rather than a choice.
Where borders meet, conflict erupts. No race is completely blameless as the warning escalates to culminate in the destruction of a million worlds and the slaughter of a billion sentient beings.
Habitable planet are rare, however, and the leaders of the races realize that if the hostilities continue, it will be impossible to survive on any world.
Sheer panic motivates a quick solution: No longer will the seven races wreak unbridled destruction throughout the galaxy; instead, all hostilities will be confined to the Battle Sphere, a small, closed region of space to which each race will send its finest warriors.The triumphant race will be allowed to colonize freely; each of the remaining races will be confined to its original, dying homeworld forevermore...
The game involves 7 races, the Oppressors, the Smg'Heeds, the O'catanut, the Slith, the Se'bab, the Telchines, and the Thunderbirds fighting a war over who will control and colonize the galaxy. It features 5 different play modes and the ability, unusual for a Jaguar title, to play over a network of up to 16 consoles, each with a pilot and an optional gunner, for a total of 32 potential players. The claimed network capability has not been tested, due to the game's release after Atari's takeover by JT Storage and abandonment of the Jaguar platform.
The game has the following play modes:
- Alone Against the Empire - Strategic play mode where the player commands other spacecraft and must move through a set of hexagonal sectors to defend scattered starbases from enemy attack, and eliminate enemy starbases on the higher levels. This mode is similar to Star Raiders.
- Gauntlet - The player defends six starbases in a single sector from wave after wave of increasingly tough enemy attackers.
- Free-For-All - The player attempts to destroy as many other starships as possible.
- Pilot Training - A series of training missions.
- Gauntlet - Same as single player game, but using a second console as an ally.
- Battle Sphere - Two opposing teams scattered across 8 consoles attempt to capture or destroy each other's starbases, a sort of 3D Netrek.
- Free-For-All - Same as single player game, but with human opponents at up to 16 networked consoles. Unused player slots are occupied by robot players.
- Resemble the human race's concept of demons, and it is believed that Earth legends of demons were caused by the arrival of an Oppressor strike force that was somehow destroyed soon after it reached the planet. They once controlled 80% of the known galaxy but have been slowly losing their hold as they encounter one disaster after another. The Oppressors will do anything to regain their former hold on the galaxy.
- An all-female slave race of the Oppressors until the sudden arrival of the Telchines 50 years ago weakened their hold, leading to a brutal rebellion and double blow to the Oppressors which destroyed half of their empire. The Se'Bab were bred for beauty and obedience. This has translated into extreme xenophobia towards all other races and extremely aggressive, almost suicidal battle tactics. The Se'Bab bare one breast at all times in defiance of male power.
- Appeared 50 years ago and are presumed to originate from a neighboring galaxy. Their advanced craft brutally vaporized a section of the Oppressor's empire which indirectly triggered the rebellion that freed the Se'Bab from their Oppressor masters. The Telchines do everything in threes and are obsessed with the 5 Platonic solids. Their ships have threefold symmetry. No one has ever seen a Telchine and lived. They appear to be transforming space around their empire.
- Lizard-like beings whose ships seem to be alive. They are rumored to devour their prisoners after interrogation. Their capital ships resemble snakes and lizards, and can reproduce if sufficient resources are supplied. Their weapons are tailored to achieving the paralysis and capture of other ships for this purpose rather than simply destroying them.
- Last surviving descendants of the human race, mostly wiped out by a scourge of retroviruses and accumulated debt from placing their entire GPP into developing absurdly powerful weapons. As a result, their ships are based on modified 20th century technology, have lousy maneuverability, but do incredible damage if they manage to hit anything. The other races decided to include them in the tournament mostly on the fear that they'd activate one of their many budget-busting Doomsday Devices had they not done so.
- A feline race that follow the Slith wherever they go. An uneasy alliance exists between them, but it has been suspended for the sake of the tournament. There is the general belief that there will be some form of power-sharing between them if either race wins the tournament. The Ocatanut focus on stealth and speed to overcome their enemies. Frequently, they will then share their kills with the Slith.
- The sworn enemies of the Ocatanut and the Slith. They are hawk-like predators who blend speed and firepower in their ships. They are fixated on coup-like behavior and they tend to make a great show of any kill, making sure their victim knows who it was who has beaten them. It is believed that the Se'Bab and the Thunderbirds have been sharing technology.
According to 4Play/ScatoLOGIC Inc.'s Official BattleSphere Homepage all after-tax profits from BattleSphere went to diabetes research. The first copy of BattleSphere (signed by the authors) went for $1,575.
- Slashdot article on the eBay auction, March 4, 2000
- "Jaguar on the Prowl". GamePro. IDG (83): 37. August 1995.
- Star Battle preview in SCES 1994
- BattleSphere demostration in E3 1995
- Hasbro Releases Jaguar Publishing Rights Hasbro Interactive. Retrieved May 14, 2008. "Beverly, MA (May 14, 1999) - Leading entertainment software publisher, Hasbro Interactive announced today it has released all rights that it may have to the vintage Atari hardware platform, the Jaguar."
- BattleSphere review at Jaguar's Domain
- Atari Gaming Headquarters interview, January 1996
- 4Play/ScatoLOGIC Inc.'s Official BattleSphere Homepage ScatoLOGIC Inc./BattleSphere homepage 2000-2005 (no longer updated)