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Warlords is an arcade game released by Atari in 1980. The game resembles a combination of Breakout and Quadrapong (an early Atari arcade game) in the sense that not only could up to 4 players play the game at the same time, but also the "forts" in the four corners of the screen were brick walls that could be broken with a flaming ball.
Warlords used 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 supported 1-4 players. 3-4 player games are free-for-alls, and the game would end 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 in 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, however the large cabinet made it impossible to produce in large quantities nor was it feasible to install - hence the smaller cocktail design.
The goal is to break through the other three players' walls and hit the player's (or computer's) icon (kings or knights) contained inside the fort. The last player left without having his icon hit gets 1 point. There are four forts (one in each corner of the screen), distinguished by the four colors orange, light green, turquoise blue, and purple. Each player has a shield that deflects the fireball that bounces off all four sides of the video screen. Players can capture and catapult the fireballs at opposing castles using their shield control and "power stone" push button.
A version was also released for the Atari 2600 console in 1981. It features the use of paddle controllers instead of joysticks. The 2600 version of Warlords is often cited as one of the more popular Atari 2600 titles by classic video gamers, and was voted the 25th greatest video game in the 100th issue of Game Informer (Aug 2001 issue).