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The story

Lazer Command was an old arcade game released by Meadows way back in 1976. This is one of the first complicated games, as each player can control up to fifteen tanks.

The game

You have an overhead view of a maze with two sides, the sides mirror each other (much like Fortress Style maps in many first person shooter games). The left side of the screen is yellow, and the right side is green (Mame reverses the screen by default, and will show green and brown, unless you change the setting). On each side are fifteen tanks. The object is to blow up all of the oppossing players tanks (or as many as you can before the timer runs out).

You can only control one tank at a time, you can move them around and blast your opponents tanks (getting the active one is usually a good idea). When you get blasted, your tank vanishes, and you must move a little blip over to another tank to resume play (this blip is invisible unless it is against a wall). You can also leave your tank and head for another one by pressing the second button.

This is just a great strategic title, it holds up even today. It is really worth playing if you like that sort of thing. Just be aware that this is a two player only title, so you will need a friend to play against.

The Machine

Lazer Command had one ugly cabinet. It was just a big yellow box without any curves or angles at all. The control panel had two large 4-Way joysticks, that each had two fire buttons, these did not have a ball on top or anything like that, they were kind of like bicycle handgrips with fire buttons. Needless to say, no one makes those sticks anymore. You can replace them with standard 4-Ways, and add fire buttons to the panel, or you can do a list soldering and match up the old handles with the new mechanisms (the latter is the "correct" thing to do).

The machine had sticker style sideart, which was a circle with an explosion inside that said "Lazer Command". The marquee was rather plain, and was simply labeled with the title in red letters, while the monitor bezel had detailed game instructions printed on it.

The monitor was a black and white monochrome model with a green and yellow overlay.

Where to play

The Mame emulator supports this game perfectly. Just be aware that you should have a proper 4-Way joystick to correctly control your little tanks (or you can use the keyboard). Mame incorrectly lists this title as using 8-Way joysticks, it does not, they are definitely 4-Way.

If you like strategic action games, then this definitely worth adding to your arcade game collection. Just be aware that you need two people to play. The extremely simple cabinet design means that you can easily restore one of thesecosmetically by just making new sides and a new front panel. They are just rectangles, which you can even have the lumber yard cut for you.

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