BattleSphere is a 3D space combat simulator, released for the Atari Jaguar console in 2000. Aside from it having a very interesting release history, it is notable as being the first console game to feature network play for up to 32 players.
Since it was released after the Jaguar’s demise, cartridge components and other supplies needed to manufacture the game were scarce. This resulted in not enough copies to meet demand. The Gold version is actually the second edition of the game, which had additional features and improvements. It was released in 2002. Exact sales figures are unknown, but there seems to have been a few hundred copies manufactured.
The actual release of the game was two years after it was completed. Once Hasbro bought out Atari, it took relentless lobbying by the BattleSphere fanbase and much behind the scenes persuasion to convince Atari to release the Jaguar console into the public domain. This makes the system the first proprietary console to be officially and completely released to homebrew development. Without this, BattleSphere would not have been encrypted and released.
Set 800 years in the future, the game features seven dominant races of the galaxy who are at war. They have agreed to confine their hostilities to Sector 51, a spherical sector of space formerly used by the Earth government to secretly test new weapons and starships. Each race has sent its best soldiers and military hardware to participate in a tournament of space battles in this Battle Sphere. The race that wins the tournament will be given control of the galaxy.
The game involves 7 races, the Oppressors, the Smg’Heeds, the O’catanut, the Slith, the Se’bab, the Telchines, and the Thunderbirds. It features 5 different play modes and the ability, unusual for a Jaguar title, to play over a network of up to 16 consoles, each with a pilot and an optional gunner, for a total of 32 potential players.
From the official and original sales page:
After 6 years’ struggle with bad documentation, worse tech support, corporate buyouts, the headache of the Jaguar’s encryption, the short supply and painful expense of cartridge components, and some rather vocal nay-sayers, we have at last manufactured the game! We also walked to school uphill in the snow both ways, if you must know
BattleSphere Goldâ„¢ represents the highest standard in Jaguar gaming ever. It doesn’t take a degree in economics to realize that quality comes with a pricetag. It’s also obvious that small production runs of any product don’t get the economy of scale to reduce tooling and setup costs. With that being said, the official price of BattleSphere Goldâ„¢ is only $159.95. This price is subject to change if component pricing goes up or down. Also, please respect our wishes and not purchase extra copies if all you intend to do is put them up on ebay with scalper prices.
Great game (play wise) with an interesting history and a limited release.
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