Warlords (1980 video game)

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For the expansion to Civilization 4, see Civilization IV: Warlords. For the computer game series, see Warlords (game series).
Warlords Flyer.png
North American arcade flyer.
Developer(s) Atari, Inc.
Publisher(s) Atari
Platform(s) Arcade, Atari 2600, Xbox Live Arcade
Release date(s) Arcade Atari 2600
Mode(s) Multi-player
Cabinet Upright, cocktail
CPU M6502 clocked at 1.512MHz [1][2]
Sound POKEY clocked at 1.512MHz
Display Raster, 256x224, horizontal orientation

Warlords is an arcade game released by Atari, Inc. in 1980.[3] The game resembles a combination of Breakout and Quadrapong (an early Atari arcade game) in the sense that not only can up to 4 players play the game at the same time, but also the "forts" in the four corners of the screen are brick walls that could be broken with a flaming ball.

Warlords uses spinner controllers for player control, and came in both an upright 2 player version and a 4 player cocktail version. The upright version uses a black and white monitor, and reflects the game image onto a mirror, with a backdrop of castles, giving the game a 3D feel. The upright version only supports up to two simultaneous players, which move through the levels as a team. The cocktail version is in color, and supports 1-4 players. 3-4 player games are free-for-all's where the game ends as soon as one player wins. 1-2 player games play identical to the upright version.

According to the Atari video game production numbers, 1014 uprights were made, and 1253 cocktails were produced. The prototype version of Warlords was called "Castles and Kings" and was housed in a 4 player "Sprint 4 like" cabinet - it was huge. Only 2 versions of the prototype were made. The game was considered a success, although the large cabinet made it impossible to produce in large quantities nor was it feasible to install - hence the smaller cocktail design.


Warlords is a battle between four warlords, 1-4 of which can be controlled by the player(s). Each fort is distinguished by a different color, the four original colors being orange, green, turquoise blue, and purple. The goal of the game is for one player to break down the walls of the surrounding warlords and destroy the icon at the center (crown for human controlled, dark lord mask for computer AI). This is accomplished by bouncing a fireball off of a cursor that the player moves around the outer layer of their castle. The fireball can also be held by pushing a "Power stone" button, at the cost of slowly deteriorating the player's own walls. When an opponent's icon is destroyed it releases another fire ball onto the game field. The last player with their icon intact will be awarded a point bonus. A game ends when all human players are eliminated.[citation needed]


The version for the Atari 2600 console was released in 1981.[4] The 2600 port was written by Carla Meninsky, one of the two female game designers to work for Atari in the early 1980s.[5] According to Meninsky, the development of the 2600 version preceded development of the arcade version.[6]

In 2008, a 3D version was released for Xbox Live Arcade

In 2004, Bryan Edewaard developed and published an unlicensed homebrew version of Warlords for the Atari 5200 and Atari 8bit computers named Castle Crisis.[7] A port of this game, including a new "remix" version, is included in Retro Atari Classics for the Nintendo DS. It featured multiplayer play through wireless.[8] The game was released on the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade on May 27, 2008, featuring a new special HD mode and Xbox Live Vision Camera support.[9] The arcade and Atari 2600 versions of Warlords were made available on Microsoft's Game Room service for its Xbox 360 console and for Windows-based PCs in June 2010 and December 2010 respectively.[citation needed] A new version of Warlords was released on PlayStation Network on October 9, 2012, in North America and October 10, 2012, in Europe. It was also released on Xbox Live Arcade on November 14, 2012.[10]


Its contemporaneous critical reception was quite positive. Warlords won an award for "Best 'Pong' Variant" and an honorable mention for "Best Competitive Game" at the 3rd annual Arkie Awards. Arkie Award judges characterized the game as "something really new and different in 'Pong'-style designs", and commented that Warlords "delivers plenty of on-screen excitement".[11]:76

In 2009 Game Informer ranked it the 25th best video game of all time. The staff called it the "original trash-talking four-player combat game" and felt that it held up years later.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Warlords". The International Arcade Museum Library. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  2. ^ "Warlords Cocktail model". Arcade History. 2012-02-03. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  3. ^ "Warlords - Arcade / Atari 2600 / Gameboy Advance / Nintendo DS / Windows / Xbox 360 / PSP / Playstation / Dreamcast (1980)". hardcoregaming101. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  4. ^ "A History of Syzygy/Atari/Atari Games/Atari Holdings". 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  5. ^ Yarusso, Albert. "Programmers: Carla Meninsky". AtariAge. Retrieved December 3, 2010. 
  6. ^ Nicholes, Will (May 1, 2011). "A conversation with Carla Meninsky". Retrieved July 14, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Atari 5200 - Castle Crisis (Self-Published)". AtariAge. Retrieved 2012-11-16. 
  8. ^ [1] Archived June 1, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "This week on Arcade: Buku Sudoku and Warlords - Xbox Lives Major Nelson". Majornelson.com. 2008-05-27. Retrieved 2012-11-16. 
  10. ^ [2] Archived April 4, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Laney, Jr., Frank (January 1982). "Arcade Alley: The Third Annual Arcade Awards". Video (Reese Communications) 5 (10): 28, 76–77. ISSN 0147-8907. 
  12. ^ Cork, Jeff (2009-11-16). "Game Informer's Top 100 Games Of All Time (Circa Issue 100)". Game Informer. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 

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