|Not Steve " Zenith" Yeovil's finest.|
It's reasonably common knowledge in geekdom that Laser Squad is an implementation of Bryan Ansells 1980 tabletop skirmish game Laserburn, published by TTG.
Laserburn is a small-scale skirmish game, which in turn Bryan had based on western gunfighting rules. Ruleswise it contributes nothing to Games Workshops 1987 Warhammer 40k, published under the management of Bryan, which in background and equipment borrows concepts like the Red Redemption and The Imperium, power armour, dreadnaughts etc. Laserburn did however, go on to be briefly resurrected, edited, redressed and republished in GWs house organ White Dwarf as Confrontation.
Many of Julians early games owe the tabletop scene a great deal, Rebel Star is basically an implementation of Mark Millars Snapshot (itself a development of Traveller) and Chaos (recently kickstarted as Chaos Reborn) very loosely based on the Games Workshop board game Warlock, which also published it. When looking for a publisher for X-COM, Julian takes it to Micropose UK, where it is comissioned by none other than Stephen "Chainsaw Warrior / Chaos Marauders" Hand and Mike "Imagine /White Dwarf / Realm of Chaos Editor" Brunton.
But that's all in the future. Back to the 8bit, let's compare and contrast some character data between Laserburn and Laser Squad:
|Laserburn Character Sheet|
|Laser Squad Character Info Screen|
The Instruction Manual reads like a rules-light wargame from the 1970s, all the data seems to be there, but somehow actually making a game out of it seems an impossible task. Fortunately you don't have to work it out, because you can play Laser Squad online here. or watch someone else laying it to get gist of it (hint: save your APs for overwatch / opportunity fire or whatever it is called):
It's actually a lot of fun for a turn based strategy game, the action flows really nicely and the UI is quite easy to get the hang of.
By the 1990s Atari ST / Amiga version, everything started to look a bit Rogue Trader, which is quite funny, considering.
|Not-Beakie Marines attack Not-Daleks|
while some aged copyright cyber-lawyer pulls his base face (via)
Laser Squad seems to have built a dedicated following, and garners much positive nostlagia, there's Russian game editors, people reverse engineering it, mobile versions, a long faded MMOSCG (Massive Multiplayer Online Skirmish Combat Game) and various android, remakes and the such ( Laser-squad.co.uk being the best palce for updates and whatnot) which is cool, because it basically is Jullians house-ruled version of Laserburn being kept alive on digital platforms.
Haven't looked at Jullians XCOM series just yet (time), but it is widely recognised to have been based on Laser Squad (and indeed was pitched as Laser Squad II), and could well retain some of its Laserburn heritage, but unfortunately not 16-bit Rogue Trader Space Marines, nor Confrontation style new-romantic punk gangers... now wouldn't that be a thing...