Game of the Week (2/18/18) – Smithereens!

“Castles crumble and trumpets blare in this medieval artillery duel.”

Smithereens!, as in, “I’m going to blast your castle to smithereens using my rock filled catapult” is a 1981 released two player game for the Odyssey² that pits you in a battle to be the first player to knock down your opponent’s castle. Player 1 in on the left side of the screen and player 2 resides on the right side of the screen. Each player has their own catapult and castle and in between the two sides is a body of water. Using the controller, you pull the joystick back as if you were pulling back on a catapult lever. The longer you hold down the joystick before releasing it, the further your rock will ultimately be thrown. As mentioned, the goal is the hit your opponent’s castle enough times that it will crumble into dust. Hitting the target takes precision and perfect timing but at least when you miss, you may still hit your opponent’s catapult or knight. Hitting either one will put your opponent out of commission for a few seconds while increasing your point totals.

To win the war against your opponent, you must complete a total of 10 battles. The computer will keep a running total of each player’s point totals for each battle won. The winner is the player with the most points after the 10 battles have completed and the winning knight will raise his trumpet in a victory song while the losing knight will raise the white flag in surrender.

Smithereens! is a Voice Enhanced title, meaning that if The Voice module is plugged into your Odyssey², you’re treated to smack talk and sound effects galore. The sound effects include a whistling sound when you release your rock/boulder from the catapult, a loud crashing sound when the rock hits a castle and a trumpet sound indicating victory. As for smack talk, apparently medieval knights were fond of calling their opponents “turkey” and taunting you with “you blew it” when you inevitably miss. While this is kind of fun to hear in that robotic computer voice at first, admittedly it gets a little old since the opponent says something EVERY single time you fire your catapult. The good news is, you can either turn the volume down on your Voice module or you can simply play the game without it to no detriment to the overall gameplay.

Smithereens! couldn’t contain a simpler concept but it’s the controls that make it a winner. The Odyssey²’s controller is perfect for a game like this with it’s 8 direction movement and self centering joystick. I recruited my kids to play with me and both of them had fun throwing rocks at their old man’s castle. It’s one of those games that anyone can pick up and play with little to no instruction but still take awhile to master. Smithereens! is a winner all around….turkey.

Rating: A-

Currently in my collection: game, manual, box

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