Commodore 64 cover art
|Developer(s)||Personal Software Services|
|Publisher(s)||Personal Software Services|
|Platform(s)||ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64|
Falklands '82 (released as Malvinas '82 in Spanish markets) is a 1986 turn-based strategy video game developed and published by Personal Software Services for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. It is the fifth instalment of the Strategic Wargames series. The game is set during the 1982 Falklands War and revolves around the Argentine occupation and subsequent British re-capture of the Falkland Islands. The player controls the British Task Force as they must either defeat all Argentine forces on the archipelago or re-capture every settlement.
A port for the Amstrad CPC was advertised but never released. During development, the developers obtained information and statistics of the war from NATO. The game met with mixed reviews and controversy: critics praised the detailed graphics, but some were divided over the gameplay and authenticity; others criticised the in-game potential of an Argentine "victory".
Falklands '82 is a turn-based strategy game focusing on land battles during the Falklands War. The player commands the British Task Force against the Argentine ground forces, who are occupying the islands. The game begins by allocating fifteen Royal Navy ships for the task force; a proportionate amount must be devoted for attack and defence purposes. The player must then choose four landing spots in northern East Falkland to begin the invasion: Port Stanley, Berkeley Sound, Cow Bay and San Carlos Bay. The SAS or SBS are available throughout the game to provide intelligence on Argentine movements; however, intelligence is limited and may only be collected a certain number of times. At any time, the player may request reinforcements from either one of the two aircraft carriers, HMS Hermes or HMS Invincible.
The main objective of the game is to either defeat all occupying Argentine forces in the archipelago, or to capture and hold all ten settlements of the Falklands simultaneously. Depending on the difficulty setting, the game lasts 25 or 30 turns; if every settlement has not been occupied or any Argentine forces remain by the end of the last turn, the game will end. The capital of the Falklands, Stanley, has the highest concentration of Argentine forces and is usually the last settlement to be captured. There are a total of four choices for combat: attack, move, pass, and "recce". The game includes a weather system that changes from every turn and provides obstructions for various forces. For example, stormy seas will temporarily render naval vessels and troop reinforcements unavailable, while fog will render both naval and air forces unavailable.
During the course of the game, Argentine airstrikes will frequently sink Royal Navy ships, depending on how many of them were initially allocated to defensive positions. In addition, Argentine air forces will occasionally bomb and destroy British forces on the ground, which are represented as animated sprites on the map. The map also displays terrain details, including rivers and mountains. If troops are situated on top of a mountain, they will receive a defensive bonus once attacked; however, due to the steep terrain, they will move more slowly. If the player chooses to enter an enemy-controlled zone, the move will instantly end, leaving the unit vulnerable to an Argentine attack.
Background and release
Richard Cockayne in an interview with Your Computer magazine in 1986
Personal Software Services was founded in Coventry, England, by Gary Mays and Richard Cockayne in November 1981. The company was known for creating games that revolved around historic war battles and conflicts, such as Theatre Europe, Bismarck and Battle of Britain. The company had a partnership with French video game developer ERE Informatique and published localised versions of their products to the United Kingdom. The Strategic Wargames series was conceptualised in 1984 by software designer Alan Steel; during development of these titles, Steel would often research the upcoming game's topic and pass on his findings to associates in Coventry and London. In 1983, the company was recognised as "one of the top software houses" in the United Kingdom, and was a finalist for BBC Radio 4's New Business Enterprise Award.
During development of both games, Cockayne and Mays obtained statistics for both the Cold War and Falklands War from NATO and the Soviet embassy in London. In an interview with Your Computer magazine, Richard Cockayne stated that both Theatre Europe and Falklands '82 received heavy criticism from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and The Sun newspaper, respectively. An editor from The Sunday Press suggested that Falklands '82 was "distasteful" because of the game's possibility of an Argentine victory. The game was planned for an Amstrad CPC port, but was never released for that computer. In Spanish markets, the game was released as Malvinas '82 (the Spanish name for the Falkland Islands) and included a manual which was never translated into English.
In 1986, Cockayne decided to alter products for release on 16-bit consoles, since smaller 8-bit consoles, such as the ZX Spectrum, lacked the processing power for larger strategy games. The decision was falsely interpreted by video game journalist Phillipa Irving as "pulling out" from the Spectrum market. Following years of successful sales throughout the mid-1980s, Personal Software Services experienced financial difficulties, and Cockayne admitted in a retrospective interview that "he took his eye off the ball". The company was acquired by Mirrorsoft in February 1987, and was later dispossessed due to debt.
The Sun newspaper criticised Falklands '82 for including a scenario where "Argentina could win," but Cockayne maintained that his company's video games did not trivialise the war. The game received mostly positive reviews from critics upon release. Rachael Smith of Your Sinclair praised the overall experience of the gameplay, stating that it was "ideal" for newcomers and plays "smooth"; however, she criticised it for being "annoyingly slow" at times. Sean Masterson of Crash criticised the gameplay, stating that it fails to "offer a serious challenge" and prohibits the player from experimenting with choices the real commanders never had, such as planning tactical air strikes. A reviewer from Sinclair User praised the gameplay, stating that it was "swift" and had "nice touches" for beginners to the wargame genre. He sarcastically remarked that the inability to play on the Argentine side would help improve Anglo-Argentinian relations. A reviewer from Zzap!64 criticised the game's lack of authenticity and strategy, stating that the developer's previous games had more credence if the player "played them with their eyes shut".
A reviewer from ZX Computing heralded the graphics and details of the map but suggested that "hardened wargamers" would not be interested in graphical advancements. A reviewer from Computer Gamer praised its simplicity, stating that it was a "simple game" and would prove to be an "excellent" introduction to the wargame strategy genre. In a 1994 survey of wargames Computer Gaming World gave the title one star out of five, stating that "it has aged poorly".
In a retrospective review, Tim Stone of Rock, Paper, Shotgun praised the game's ability to display the war in a neutral manner; however, he questioned the inability to play on the Argentine side. Stone concluded that the game had "greater significance" over other war strategy games at the time and had an "undeniable quality".
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