Harpoon (video game)

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Harpoon Coverart.png
Developer(s)Three-Sixty Pacific
Applied Computing Services
Publisher(s)Three-Sixty Pacific, PSS
Designer(s)Larry Bond Edit this on Wikidata
SeriesHarpoon series
Platform(s)Amiga, MS-DOS, Macintosh
Genre(s)Real-time wargame

Harpoon is a computer wargame published by Three-Sixty Pacific in 1989 for MS-DOS. This was the first game in the Harpoon series. It was ported to the Amiga and Macintosh.

Development history[edit]

In the late 1970s, a manual wargame called SEATAG was introduced by the USN for exploring tactical options. It was available in both classified and unclassified versions. SEATAG was developed into a true tactical training game called NAVTAG that ran on three networked microcomputers for the Red Side, Blue Side, and Game Control.

Former Naval officer and future author Larry Bond's exposure to this system in 1980 while on active duty led to the eventual development of Harpoon.[citation needed]


The player is the commander of either NATO or Soviet forces, commanding ships and aircraft, selecting from over 100 different weapon systems, and taking responsibility for judgment calls.[1] The game mainly focuses on combat in the GIUK Gap.


Harpoon is a naval simulator that uses data reflecting real-world equipment and weaponry, based on a miniatures wargame. There are no preset battle algorithms that dictate combat outcomes, and no play balance between sides. The game includes a user's guide with an appendix on superpower politics and maritime strategies in modern warfare, a Harpoon Tactical Guide by Larry Bond, and a booklet by author Tom Clancy that deals with Russian destroyers.[1] Clancy used the simulation to test the naval battles for Red Storm Rising, which he co-authored with Bond.[2]


Review scores
Dragon5/5 stars (MS-DOS)[1]
5/5 stars (Macintosh)[3]
5/5 stars(Amiga)[4]
Computer Gaming World5/5 stars (MS-DOS)[5]

Sales of Harpoon surpassed 80,000 copies by 1993.[6]

Computer Gaming World's reviewer, a United States military officer, gave the game five stars out of five. He stated that "there is no question that Harpoon is the most detailed simulation to appear in the civilian marketplace ... a must-have for the serious naval gamer", and that he had learned more from six hours with the game than one year at the Naval War College.[5][7][8] In 1990, Dragon gave the PC DOS/MS-DOS version of game 5 out of 5 stars.[1] In 1991, they gave the Macintosh version 5 stars as well.[3] The Amiga version received 5 out of 5 stars.[4]

The One reviewed Harpoon in 1991, calling it a "combat simulation for purists", due to the lack of "flashy action scenes" or joystick controls. The One furthermore states that the game requires "careful" and "arduous" strategic planning, and express that "It's hard to fault the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the military hardware database which supports Harpoon, and it would be unfair to criticise the lack of more usual arcade-style sequences. The game makes no claim to be anything other than a realistic and heavily strategic representation of cold war conflict - as such it succeeds." The One concludes by expressing that "Even so, it's too dryly erudite to appeal to as wide an audience as most simulations."[9]

In 1990, Computer Gaming World named it as Wargame of the Year.[10] In 1994, PC Gamer US named Harpoon the 36th best computer game ever. The editors called it "probably the best known and most successful naval war game there's ever been. It's still selling today, even five years after its initial release, and military academies have been known to use the game as a training aid. Now that's realism!"[11] In 1996, Computer Gaming World declared Harpoon the 40th-best computer game ever released.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (April 1990). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (156): 89–95.
  2. ^ "Harpoon Naval Warfare Simulation Game - AGSI - Harpoon Commanders Edition (HCE)".[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (April 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (168): 47–54.
  4. ^ a b Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (October 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (174): 57–64.
  5. ^ a b Brooks, M. Evan (February 1990). "Harpoon". Computer Gaming World. p. 12. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  6. ^ Ferrell, Ed (February–March 1993). "Harpoon: Battleset Enhancer". PC Games. IDG: 78.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  7. ^ Brooks, M. Evan (June 1992). "The Modern Games: 1950–2000". Computer Gaming World. p. 120. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  8. ^ Brooks, M. Evan (January 1994). "War In Our Time / A Survey Of Wargames From 1950-2000". Computer Gaming World. pp. 194–212.
  9. ^ Houghton, Gordon; Hamza, Kati (February 1991). "No Cap'n Ahab!". The One. No. 29. emap Images. p. 22.
  10. ^ "CGW's Game of the Year Awards". Computer Gaming World. September 1990. p. 70. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  11. ^ Staff (August 1994). "PC Gamer Top 40: The Best Games of All Time". PC Gamer US (3): 32–42.
  12. ^ Staff (November 1996). "150 Best (and 50 Worst) Games of All Time". Computer Gaming World (148): 63–65, 68, 72, 74, 76, 78, 80, 84, 88, 90, 94, 98.

External links[edit]