In Laser Squad you control a group of space marine-like soldiers (and the occasional cyborg). Before taking them into battle (viewed from above and progressing in turns), you must buy them weapons and armour with a predetermined amount of credits, taking into account the individual abilities of your squad. Unlike X-COM, the soldiers do not gain experience over time. The game also features a two player hotseat multiplayer option.
Initial ZX Spectrum release (and C64 & Amstrad CPC cassette tape releases) had three missions:
1: The Assassins - where you must face down Sterner Regnix and his guards 2: Moonbase Assault - which challenges you to destroy the OmniCorp database 3: Rescue from the Mines - eschew violence in favour of a rescue mission
Two more scenarios were available via mail order, later releases by Blade Software and subsequent ports already included them:
4: The Cyber Hordes - defend a rebel station and its seven stabilizer cores from an advancing imperial droid invasion 5: Paradise Valley - following the destruction of the stabilizer cores, escape from the colony with the device containing blueprints for advanced rebel starfighter
Two additional missions were released with mail order expansion kit.
It was designed by Julian Gollop and his team at Target Games (later Mythos Games and Codo Technologies) and published by Blade Software, expanding on the ideas applied in their previous Rebelstar series of games.
Rebelstar and Laser Squad are among the earliest examples of turn-based unit-level wargame video games. In 1990, Mythos Games released a fantasy game Lords of Chaos, which had many similarities to Laser Squad but was a follow-up to Gollop's earlier ZX Spectrum game Chaos: The Battle of Wizards. The Laser Squad franchise has been revived by Gollop's Codo Technologies in 2002 with the play-by-email game Laser Squad Nemesis, although this departs from the turn-based action point system and does not have customizable weaponry.
Many of the Laser Squad mechanics were re-used in the later X-COM series of games, created also by Gollop and Mythos Games but published by MicroProse. Notably, the first X-COM game, UFO: Enemy Unknown, began its development as Laser Squad II. Some of the name choices for characters and organizations in the games of Mythos and Codo are a thread connecting all the Laser Squad and Rebelstar games. The cover art for XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Firaxis Games' and 2K Games' remake of UFO: Enemy Unknown, pays homage to Laser Squad.
Some of the graphics in the game's cut scenes (for instance, Sterner Regnix's communications officer) are literally lifted from the Star Wars films.
Versions released in the '90s
1992 - PC 1993 - PC-98