How did you find Laser Squad?

I was ahead of the curve.

My first experience of Laser Squad was an advert about 1.5 inches square in the very, very back of a magazine. I think it was in zzap64! but this was 20 years ago and my brain is old and tired.

It looked great from the single very tiny screenshot, promising a “tactical warfare simulation”. This was before the internet remember, so there was quite literally no information at all.

It was about £10, which meant that i had to save my dinner money for a week or two to afford it (i was 16-17). Cash was duly stashed away and eventually a postal order was dispatched and the wait began.

It was quite a wait, about three weeks – things moved a hell of a lot slower in 1989. Eventually it arrived in a large black box about the size of a VHS video case – this was the first edition from Target, not the Blade reissue.

I hand cranked my c64 and loaded it up.

Managed to miss school that day, because it was AWESOME. I’d literally never played a game that was so on the money, It looked great (i still like the look of it now) and it played brilliantly.

Hell, you all know it plays brilliantly – or you wouldn’t be reading this.

Eventually Expansion kit 1 was released, giving us the Cyber Hordes – which to this day is still pretty tough and when i sent off for expansion kit 2, they gave me a shiny brand new copy of Laser Squad (blade reissue) for free with it.

I think it was really only around this time the game actually begun to get noticed – all my mates loved it and played it as much as i did, everyone knew sappy doody was going to hang about in the toilets in moonbase assault, and that a las-50 was utterly useless against level 4 armour.

It’s just such a damn shame that the internet wasn’t around earlier and more missions didn’t happen – but those crazy russians had a go any way. You’ll find on the downloads page 13 new missions, all coded by russian fans – some are better than others and some are definately buggier than others but free is always good.

I’d love to hear how you lot first experienced Laser squad, get commenting.

11 Comments

  1. Nic says:

    I have to say I came across Laser Squad in much the same way, finding a small advert in a magazine (in this case Your Sinclair – http://www.worldofspectrum.org/showmag.cgi?mag=YourSinclair/Issue33/Pages/YourSinclair3300066.jpg.) However I must have known somehow that this was connected to Rebelstar, as I’d been a long time player both against my humble Speccy and with friends that I had to get this.

    I think I was about 12 or so at the time and had to get a cheque off my Mum to send for this (having given her the cash naturally) and I remember her being somewhat skeptical as to whether this was a scam or not. It turned up fairly quickly (as you said in a huge black box of awesomeness) and led my friends and me to play it for years to come.

    The Expansion Kits really were the icing on the cake and was so happy that they supported the game in that way. Incidentally I always wondered though and I’ve never seen it elsewhere online, but when I’d play Laser Platoon for hours and my Speccy got hot enough to fry eggs on, that level in particular got amazingly buggy – the best being the ability to step on top of walls and not lose AP for walking on it…

    God knows how many days I’ve played Laser Squad, I imagine I should be thinking in weeks more likely.

  2. Admin says:

    I never played Platoon on the spectrum until it was on an emulator, as i had them all for the C64 – howver i do very much remember sometimes waiting for upto half an hour for the AI to make it’s moves in Paradise Valley.

    Thanks for the comment btw Nic – my very first !

  3. Arkon says:

    I bought a pirate cassette with a game compilation (for some weird reason, the best C64 games weren’t published in Poland, but some of the worst, most masochistic, poorly balanced games were.) and Laser Squad was one of the games on it.
    I remember playing it a lot, sometimes with friends.
    I loved its mechanics, atmosphere and graphics. Too bad that it had so few scenarios…

    I have recently hunted down the Target release on eBay.

  4. Roddy says:

    I guess I was late to the party as my first experience of Laser Squad was on the Atari ST. Most Sunday mornings were spent playing this with my brother as we took turns leaving the room to play the game.

    I have recently rediscovered Laser Squad through the iPhone C64 emulator which brought all of those memories flooding back. Work hasn’t been the same since!

  5. White Kite Fauna says:

    I did not have a spectrum, but friend of mine did. I spent about a gazillion hours at his place, and LaserSquad was one of the most played. We also took turns leaving the room 🙂 LaserSquad was very big in Soviet Union back in the day.
    Now I find it to be an excellent “brain trainer” on the long commutes to work. Used to have an emulator for pocketpc, now it’s ipod touch.

  6. Rory says:

    I recently downloaded the C64 emulator with LaserSquad on as I loved the game so much, but does anyone know the actual controls?

    1) how do you select weapons?
    2) and more importantly… how do I even move the cursor to deploy the squad?

    Please help, thanks,

    Captain Krenon 🙂

  7. Admin says:

    Hi Rory,

    That depends on the c64 emulator you’re using rather than the game itself – if you can point us to the one you’re using then we can figure it out (or just grab the spectrum version 🙂 ….)

  8. The Betpet says:

    I actually first heard about Laser Squad when it got the ‘Mastergame’ in Amstrad Action. It was nerly Christmas and every time I read the review I just wanted it more and more. I asked my dad for it on disc (yes, disc. Remember those costing the earth in 1988?) and their ordering mechanism went belly up and I didn’t get it for Christmas. I spoke to my dad and got it a couple of weeks later. All I can say is WOW! Better then the reviews made it out to be! I must have played it night and day for months!

    Since I was the only Amstrad owner I knew, all my mates were C64 or Speccy owners so when it came to new games, I didn’t get to talk to them much apart from the standard ‘Renegade’, ‘Emlyn Hughes INternational Soccer’, etc. they brought us all together. A few months later, one of my C64 mates mentioned they had picked up Laser Squad and loved it and it all kicked off. Popping to each other’s houses to take it in turns to leave the room while the other makes their move. Brilliant stuff!

    William Fraser has done an awesome job in remaking it for Java. The link is here:

    http://freespace.virgin.net/william.fraser/LaserSquadIndex.html

    I still reminisce quite happily while taking on my favourite scenario… Moonbase Assault!

    As much as I want to love Laser Squad Nemesis, it doesn’t match up to the original Laser Squad!

  9. Slice says:

    I agree with The BetPet regarding Laser Squad Nemesis waited for that for years but just is not gritty enough like the original. I did buy it and play it originally but never quite grabbed me. Too gamey and plastic for me.

    It’s amazing really so many great games such as, UFO/X-Com, Duke Nukem etc all waiting years to be done justice again and never quite happening. Odd that. X-Com is something like No.10 on most all time great games lists and still all the clones have missed the point so far.

    Anyway glad this is here, will give the old Laser Squad another go. Just played the one William Fraser did online and it’s still fun.

  10. Mr. Mirandos says:

    Back in 1988 I was very happy. Now I finally owned a Commodore 64! I lived in a small city in Finland and didn’t know of a good place to get games but I got a few from friends. Then a year later, at the golden age of 15, I had a chance and knew of a good place to order some brand new games for it. I had started to read some computer magazines which were of course already praising Commodore Amiga everywhere. Dungeon Master was the greatest game ever they said. Could I get a game like that for the C64? Or possibly some other game with real depth…

    So, I ordered some games that had great reviews. The guy on the phone was extremely helpful as I ordered the games. He told me more about them. He seemed to know everything! For example, he warned me about Xenon for C64. (It’s a bad conversion of an Amiga original). I was stupid and didn’t listen. I really wanted it ’cause the Xenon II had great reviews for Amiga. I used to love those kind of shoot ’em ups a bit similar to Xenon II, like Konami’s Gradius/Nemesis or Salamander for my friend’s MSX (Spectravideo) computer. I had never played any strategy games… until I was blessed by a lucky twist of fate.

    Well… It had been said that the closest thing to Dungeon Master for C64 was Bloodwych. So I had ordered it as well. Then it happened! I was lucky… It turned out to be that Bloodwych wasn’t available at the moment and the same guy recommended me Laser Squad instead! I’m forever grateful to that guy! The best salesman ever!

    Some years later I had the Amiga as well. Yes, I also had Dungeon Master and it was a great game. The only thing is that I haven’t even finished Dungeon Master and I didn’t really have a great deal of interest to it. But as for Laser Squad, it’s the greatest game ever! I still play it. I started to play it yet again about a week ago. And the Commodore 64 version is perfect. Just listen to those explosion-sounds! 🙂 The Amiga and PC conversions of this Sinclair ZX Spectrum original don’t have the same touch of class. It still made me proud to own a C64!

    “Lords of Chaos” was also a very important game for me. Another brilliant creation by Julian Gollop and a follow up to Spectrum classic “Chaos”. My brother and my sister and a couple of friends used to play it together all the time on holidays.

  11. Steve Smith says:

    I remember seeing a screenshot of LS in the preview section of Sinclair User. Just the graphics looked great, and me and a mate went halves on a copy. We used to play it for hours.

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