Getting trapped behind enemy lines with Lost Patrol
A dark game for a dark subject.
This Monday's video covers one of the more unique titles to come from the UK microcomputer era -- a game called Lost Patrol. Why so unique? Well, firstly it's about the Vietnam War -- not a subject that's often covered in games, much less so by a British studio predominantly working on computers...mind you, the publishers did have a bit of history on this front. As ever, the video is available right here.
Lost Patrol puts you in the shoes of a small squad that's just survived a helicopter crash, 58 miles behind enemy lines. You have a simple mission -- make it to Du Hoc, the nearest friendly camp. You won't do this simply by going through levels and blasting soldiers, mind -- the game is about survival. Managing your troops, making sure they have enough food, playing through various mini-games like sniper battles and going through minefields, and keeping morale as high as possible...any little thing that goes wrong could be a disaster that, slowly but surely, forces your group to unravel. Work them too hard and they'll question your leadership or possibly even frag you. Make a wrong turn and you may suddenly be blown apart by a booby trap. Lose a fight to the Viet Cong, and another important member of your squad may well die.
The game, despite largely taking place on a simple map screen, is moody and atmospheric -- having a fair bit in common with Cinemaware's games in the way that it's laid out. However, the game itself was published by Ocean, who had in fact scored a hit with, of all things, a licensed game based on Platoon. You may wonder just how a dramatic and powerful movie like Platoon could be reduced to an action game, but they managed it...indeed, there was a push from Ocean for the developers of Lost Patrol to essentially make Platoon 2, but they resisted and the ultimate reward was a critical success. The accuracy to the conflict, oppressive mood, tremendous difficulty -- and of course, an all-time classic soundtrack -- still make it an essential Amiga game in 2018, and hopefully you not only enjoy the video, but you seek this game out and play it for yourself.