Retro Coin Op Synopsis

Atari’s Warlords got Medieval on the old Breakout formula. Instead of chipping away at colored walls for your own amusement, Warlords gave a more sinister objective: castle-to-castle warfare.

In each of the four corners of the Warlords playfield, castle walls guarded either a crown (player-controlled) or a Black Knight (computer-controlled). At the start of the game, a dragon lumbered onto the screen, spit out a fireball, and the melee began. Each time the fireball hit a castle wall, bricks were chipped away, leaving that castle’s resident more and more exposed. Once the ball got through, it was “Game Over” for that castle, and the remaining warlords continued the fray.

To keep your walls protected (and to strike out at your foes), a moving shield roved across the two sides of your castle, controlled by a rotary paddle. The fireball would bounce off your shield if you intercepted it, keeping your walls intact and sending it off in a new direction, but the shield also had an offensive capability. By holding the “Power Stone” button, players could actually catch the fireball, move into position, and launch an even more powerful attack on an enemy castle. If you held the fireball too long, however, the flames would flicker off and damage your own castle.

For every castle destroyed in a blinding flash, a new fireball would be launched, making the battle even more hectic. Extra fireballs also flared up if a match took too long, allowing up to a total of four flaming projectiles to menace your walls at once. The war raged on until only one crown or knight survived, but as long as a human player owned the last castle remaining, a new warlord showdown would begin.

Warlords was available as a two-player upright (complete with overlay graphics and a faux 3-D backdrop) or as a four-player cocktail with color graphics. The four-player version drew gamers in for a little one-on-one-on-one-on-one mayhem, but unfortunately, with more than two players, the game ended after a single round. It was a cruel fate after a hard-won multi-player victory, but such was the life of the warlord, always hungry for the next four-man battle.

Arcade Machine Release History

1981 - Warlords

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