Laser Squad plus Expansion Pack restored

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By Louthrax

Paragon (1846)

Louthrax's picture

06-06-2016, 00:51

From Wikipedia:

Laser Squad is a turn-based tactics video game, originally released for the ZX
Spectrum and later for the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Amiga and Atari ST
and PC computers. 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.

Laser Squad originally came with five mission scenarios, with an expansion pack
released for the 8-bit versions, containing a further two scenarios. Reaction from
gaming magazines was positive, gaining it high review rating and several accolades.
The legacy of the game can be seen in other titles like the X-COM series, especially
the acclaimed UFO: Enemy Unknown which was also created by Julian Gollop and was
initially conceived as a sequel to Laser Squad.

The original MSX English version of the game was lost for years (SLotman did a nice re-translation and patch of the Italian version that can be found here).

A few days ago, Montagut provided a dump of the original English version tape. It appeared that the maps files on this tape were the same as the Spectrum ones.

This allowed the creation of this MSX Laser Squad + Expansion Pack, which also includes the 2 Spectrum extra maps that were not released for MSX at the time.

                 Laser Squad plus Expansion Pack (MSX version)
                 =============================================


How to play the game:
---------------------

    - Load the "00 - Loader [BLOAD'CAS-',R].wav" in you favorite MSX emulator,
      or record it to a real tape.

    - Type BLOAD"CAS:",R from MSX BASIC.

    - Press the [Enter] key. You should see the screen flashing with colored
      stripes during the loading.

    - Choose the map you want to play from the menu (maps "The stardrive" and
      "Laser platoon" have to be loaded with menu #6 (Paradise valley).

    - Insert the .WAV file corresponding to your choice in your emulator, or
      postion the tape to it.


Notes:
------

    - Sources for the different .WAV files are available in the "sources.zip"
      file. The "00 - Loader [BLOAD'CAS-',R].wav" file is made from
      "00a -Loader.cas" first, followed by "00b -Loader.tzx".
      
    - The Expansion Pack maps "The stardrive" and "Laser platoon" had to be
      patched in order to be loadable on MSX with the last menu entry
      (changing byte #2D in the .TZX files from 'e' to 'i').
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By Louthrax

Paragon (1846)

Louthrax's picture

06-06-2016, 02:58

Darn, just realized the enemies are not moving in the newly added Speccy maps! Looks like some more patching is needed.

Request to admin: would it be possible to rename this thread to "Laser Squad English version restored " (or simply delete it), waiting for a fix ? Some more serious SQA was needed on this...

By ssj

Rookie (18)

ssj's picture

06-06-2016, 08:34

Is the original english dump available somewhere?

By Louthrax

Paragon (1846)

Louthrax's picture

06-06-2016, 12:11

The .ZIP file in the link contains the restored original English dump. Only the 2 extra levels are Spectrum, they load correectly, you can play them in 2 players mode, but the ennemies are not moving when playing against CPU...

By Wild_Penguin

Champion (484)

Wild_Penguin's picture

06-06-2016, 16:29

Nice - I have to try this out!

I used to play a lot of Laser Squad back in the day on a PC - but that version only had 5 levels!

Maybe the MSX levels have some AI script / instructions in them, that is on a different format on the Speccy levels? I know nothing about coding let alone AI coding, but it looks like it is time for some reverse engineering ;-)

Thanks !

By Louthrax

Paragon (1846)

Louthrax's picture

06-06-2016, 16:43

Wild_Penguin wrote:

Nice - I have to try this out!
I used to play a lot of Laser Squad back in the day on a PC - but that version only had 5 levels!
Maybe the MSX levels have some AI script / instructions in them, that is on a different format on the Speccy levels? I know nothing about coding let alone AI coding, but it looks like it is time for some reverse engineering ;-)
Thanks !

Yes, there's some code in the maps, and the called addresses slightly differ between MSX and Speccy. We can have a guess of the differences by looking at the level 1-5 dumps differences, and the re-applying those differences on the Speccy level 6 & 7. Maybe that could work (think I'll need a script or something for that, doing it manually will by a huge PITA...).

By Wild_Penguin

Champion (484)

Wild_Penguin's picture

06-06-2016, 19:58

Well, I gave it a quick shot. "The Assasins" is way easy, just give one soldier a rocket launcher, open the door with another one, and unload your rockets at the door! (works in the DOS version, too, btw Smile ). With two players, I don't think it will be that easy (depending on your opponent).

I wonder if the expansion pack was ever officially released for the MSX?

Also, IIRC I read somewhere that the Italian version translated into English had some fixes so that it works on more MSX machines with different memory layouts. Maybe this version still has those problems, as I was able to run it on a FC-200 and HX-10, but not on a NMS8250, for example.

By Manuel

Ascended (14738)

Manuel's picture

06-06-2016, 20:51

It probably doesn't support RAM in a subslot.

By Louthrax

Paragon (1846)

Louthrax's picture

06-06-2016, 21:34

You can find explanations on SLotman site.
I also noticed that you'd better do a "screen 0" before bloading the game (Japanese MSXes are booting in screen 1 by default).

By ARTRAG

Enlighted (6026)

ARTRAG's picture

06-06-2016, 22:03

why not a rom version?

By ssj

Rookie (18)

ssj's picture

06-06-2016, 22:08

Louthrax wrote:

The .ZIP file in the link contains the restored original English dump. Only the 2 extra levels are Spectrum, they load correectly, you can play them in 2 players mode, but the ennemies are not moving when playing against CPU...

Thanks, didn't realize that. Anyone tried to convert this into a cas file? Would be a lot more convenient for emulators, I'm not sure how to do it considering this consists of multpile wav files.

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