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BRIEF : A World At War (1983)

Secretary Narwhal, don’t you think we should de-escalate with our neighbours, or at least stop building nukes ?

I apologize, I have only three buttons : building nukes, finding targets, and sending nukes.

I am the head of the strategic force of a coastal nation, and by “strategic” I mean nuclear. My country ignored the diktat of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and developed (totally defensive ! ) nuclear weapons. Our international standing increased a lot, but our neighbour, that rogue state, ignored the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and developed absolutely offensive nuclear weapons. Offensive to us !

Well, the cat is out of the bag. They may attack us at any moment, we need to build more nuclear missiles.

My country on the left (with its proud cities in purple), their country on the right (with their sordid towns in blue). We are two coastal countries, with the sea in the South, but our beaches are better.

In A World at War (1983), a Commodore VIC-20 game by the Swedish developer Handic Software AB, there are only three options :

  • Build nuclear silos,
  • Spy enemy territory to find their nuclear silos
  • Launch missiles,

Both countries start at peace. Once the missiles start flying, I will not be able to build more silos, so at the beginning I try to build as many missile sites as possible. I build them as far away from my cities as possible, including on islands : missile silos are destroyed on a direct it, but cities are destroyed if they are one tile away from a blast :

Once I am happy with the number of missiles I own, I start to spy a bit to find the silos of my enemy. I am sure they have some…

… and just as I find a bunch of them in the middle of their Western city, I detect a bunch of enemy missiles flying in my direction.

The war is on !

Note how I try (and fail) to launch missiles from B4 before the enemy missiles destroy the silo. The game is in real time, at least once the hostilities begin.

The initial attack is devastating, and I lose a good chunk of my silos, but suddenly the enemy attack abates. Presumably they are out of targets, and looking for my remaining missile sites :

Meanwhile, I had spied some more during their first attack, and found their missile sites. My own attack is devastating – each of my silos can shoot 2 to 4 missiles, so I have more than enough to wipe them out.

Accelerated 2x for your convenience.

It ends up with the last of their silos (or so I hope) against the last of mine. I shoot first :

With 8 cities remaining on my side and 4 on their side, I won the war.

Totally worth it !

A World at War is the first game I’m covering from Sweden (or for that matter, from continental Europe). Fully in English, it plays like an inferior version of Avalon’s Hill Nukewar. From the little I could gather from Internet (don’t quote me! ) its developer, Handic Software AB, was initially only importing computers in Sweden, but from there it moved to importing software, and starting in 1983 developed its own , including games. They were successful enough for a moment that they started to sell directly in the UK in 1983 and North America in 1984 – though I do not believe this specific game was ever sold outside of Sweden. Still, they folded in 1986, and we won’t be seeing any more of them on this blog – all their other games are arcade.

The world-building is probably the most interesting part of the game

A World at War does not have enough depth for a full-fledged review. The game is easy, has almost no options (the only real “decision” is when to trigger the war, if you shoot first), and is over in less than 5 minutes (I tried to finish a session in one minute, but the best I could do was 2 minutes) ; it would have been rated as totally obsolete.

At least, I learned to use a Commodore emulator, which I know I will need eventually.


I got a bit delayed on my Review & Rating for the Wreck of the B.S.M. Pandora, as I am checking a few historical facts. Happily enough I had this BRIEF ready to keep everyone happy while I finish it – it will not take more than a couple days.

3 Comments

  1. Harland Harland

    You should say if it’s cassette, cartridge, disk or whatever.

  2. baud baud

    > My country on the left (with its proud cities in purple), their country on the right (with their sordid towns in blue). We are two coastal countries, with the sea in the South,

    Sounds like India vs Pakistan. Though I don’t think Pakistan had nuclear weapons at the time.

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