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Laser Squad

Entry updated 19 December 2017. Tagged: Game.

Videogame (1988). Target Games (TG). Designed by Julian Gollop. Platforms: C64, Spectrum (1988); Amiga, Amstrad, AtariST (1989); DOS (1992).

Laser Squad is a turn-based Computer Wargame with a two-dimensional overhead view whose subject is combat between small groups of soldiers on the surfaces of alien worlds. Its game mechanics greatly resemble those of squad level Wargames such as Starsoldier (1977) (see Starforce: Alpha Centauri), adapted for a Videogame. Many early Computer Wargames show similar influences from the board and counter form; notably, the design of such space combat games as Starfleet Orion (1978) echoes that of such predecessors as WarpWar (1977 Metagaming Concepts) designed by Howard Thompson and Alpha Omega (1977 Battleline) designed by Sean Hayes, J Stephen Peek. The core gameplay of Laser Squad, however, is an improved version of the system used in Julian Gollop's earlier Rebelstar Raiders (1984 Spectrum) and its sequels Rebelstar (1986 Spectrum; 1987 Amstrad) and Rebelstar II (1988 TG, Spectrum); a similar approach to squad-based combat appears in his later UFO: Enemy Unknown (1994) (see X-Com). As a work of science fiction Laser Squad is of little interest; the game's backstory is thin, and much influenced by Star Wars. It is, however, an excellent example of how to convert the basic concepts of a tactical Wargame into a highly playable, visually appealing Videogame which offers much in the way of military subtlety and operational variability.

Laser Squad Nemesis (2002 Codo Technologies, Win) designed by Julian Gollop is a loose sequel which is primarily a Play by Email game. Each player selects one of four species with different strengths and weaknesses, and joins a scenario with another participant. The game then proceeds turn by turn, with orders submitted to a central machine and the results sent back to the players. Created by Codo Technologies without publisher involvement, Laser Squad Nemesis was one of the most successful Independent Games of the early 2000s. [NT]

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