Warlords by Atari

Warlords by Atari

Right now I have my games prepped and packed in the garage awaiting pickup for the show this weekend so I thought I write this article on a game that’s staying home this time. I played the home version of this game quite a bit on my Atari 2600 as I imagine a lot of you out there did. In my opinion it’s one of the best party games.

Warlords is an arcade game by Atari and was released in 1980. The game was made in an upright cabinet and a cocktail cabinet. The upright version could play 1 or 2 players simultaneously. It housed a 23” black and white monitor with a color overly to give each castle its own color and the image from the monitor was then bounced off a one way mirror which allowed a 3D back drop of 4 castle walls to shine through. This made it appear that the players were playing from the top of the castles. The cocktail version could play 1 to 4 players simultaneously and had a 14” color monitor.

Warlords falls under a ball and paddle (pong) type game, it plays like a competitive multiplayer game of breakout. The goal is to break thru the other players’ castles walls and hit their king or the Black Knight while protecting your own castle with your shield. At the beginning of the level a dragon shoots a fireball at one of the players. He can either deflect the fireball which will cause it to fly faster or hold on to it but as he holds it sparks continuously fly back at his own castle and slowly destroys it. Another fireball will appear when a certain time is reached and after another player’s king or knight is defeated. There are 2 types of game play depending on the amount of players. If you start a 3 or 4 player game then it’s every man for himself and the game will end as soon as one player is left standing. If you start a 1 or 2 player game then as long as the computer doesn’t win the round the player or players will advance to the next level were the computer opponents are faster and the A.I. is better. Because of this the cocktail tends to be more of a cutthroat game while the upright is a team co-op game.

Warlords is a fairly easy one to play today in one form or another. There are a number of ports and remakes out there. There is the Atari 2600 port, a homebrew 2600 version called Medieval Mayhem, a homebrew version for the 5200 called Castle Crisis and Atari Anniversary pack for quite a few systems just to name a few. There was also a HD version released on xbox live in 2008.


I'm a kid of the 70's and 80's. Grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, Atari and Music Videos. My current hobby is repairing arcade games, mostly from the 70's and trying to find space to put them.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. I never saw the arcade version, but the 2600 version was one of my all-time favs. The rotary controller on the coleco knockoff of the atari worked great for it. I haven’t played it in a long time though because I no longer have a rotary 2600 controller, and the game/controls don’t seem to work well on emulators (I don’t know if it’s a faulty rom, or the emulator, or what).

  2. I agre with Drahken – great game, but hard to find good emulator controls these days. It was great in the arcade and with the 2600 paddles. My MAME system has a trackball, and even that doesn’t work too well. Loads of fun with the proper controllers, though.

  3. Great post for a great title, Blinddog! Fantastic side art on the cabinet of course but I also have to declare my love for the flyer itself, that deserves to some kind of van art. :)

  4. Great video and great game!

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