If you ever played battleship as a kid, then no doubt you can appreciate Battleship by Pen. Created by RedMadRobot, Battleship by Pen gets bonus points from me for originality in design. An app that appears to have been drawn entirely by hand on graph paper with a blue Bic pen, Battleship by Pen is the same concept as the original board game, but with some original features of its own.
Players choose where to place their battleships, which are really just groups of squares outlined in pen with Xs inside, and deploy their fleet onto the graph paper grid to begin.

In Battleship by pen, you can touch and drag the ships to position them and tap them to change orientation. When it’s your turn to try to find and destroy your opponent’s battleships, you simply select and tap a square on the screen. If it is a hit, an X will mark the square and if it’s a miss, a small dot serves as a marker. The first player to destroy their opponent’s entire fleet wins.

As I said, I give points for complete originality in the design of Battleship by Pen. Everything right down to the instructions and navigation buttons has the same hand-drawn appearance. It’s obvious the designer was going for casual and the pen and paper graphics combined with the recorded voice sound effects achieve a result somewhere between aloof casual and unintended comedy. The sound effects can’t even be explained in words, except to tell you to ask a ten-year-old what it sounds like when something is blown up by a missile.

Humorous as it is, the sound effects in Battleship by Pen actually got on my nerves after a while, but not as much as the overall stability of the app. While I enjoyed the game immensely despite the eventually nerve-grating sound effects, the single-player mode crashed every time I played. I tried to remedy this with a restart and tested it out on both iPhones with 3.0 OS and iPod touch with 2.2.1 – both yielding the same result. As for the multi-player mode, I didn’t care all that much about it, but the implementation of a wi-fi mode is a great expectation and should prove to be a positive improvement.

Battleship by Pen is a highly creative rendition of a classic game and the developers definitely bring their own unique flair into the mix. It certainly has huge potential, but unless the stability of the single-player mode is improved and the wi-fi game mode brought to fruition, Battleship by Pen may die a slow, silent death as it sinks into the unknown murky waters of the App Store.

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