Laser Squad - The best video game adaptation

Another day in the life of our fictional Hollywood super developer, packaged as satirical five minute story. Part of the 5M Projects. Written by Rogue Saint.

For several days, my neighborhood was rattled by screams and unruly sounds. The first time it happened, we all dismissed it as just another crazy moment in this crazy city. The second time, it got many of my neighbors worried. Then it happened again, again, and again until somebody called the police. To our surprise, the cops handcuffed our otherwise-great neighbor for disturbing the peace. Why would such a great man who always says hi and helps the elderly cause such discomfort for our neighborhood?

Shortly after his arrest, his wife knocked on my door. After a usual polite exchange of greetings, she got straight to the point.
"Excuse me, neighbor, I've heard you're offering ideas for aspiring writers or seasoned pros, as well as production and studio executives."
"Yes, ma’am. That's me."
"Well, my husband insisted you to be the one to post his bail. I'll provide the funds, of course."
"Can you tell me exactly what this is about?"
"I would if I knew. I am as perplexed as you are, sir," she ended politely.

I went to the central jail, but before I would post the bail, I wanted my neighbor to explain this awkward situation. The police were happy to give me 10 to 15 minutes alone in a cell with him.
"I'm glad you came," he greeted me, unusually happy to see me.
"So where do we go from here? What is all this about?"
"It's not that easy." I wanted a straight answer, but got the entire story instead. "I optioned a few scripts before I sold one. The money was good, my wife was happy, my in-laws finally started to believe the man who had married their daughter wasn't a total dud...and then it happened."
"What happened?"

"I had been out of ideas for spec scripts for some time. I tried to alleviate my frustration by thinking I'd at least find material good enough to adapt for the screen. But guess what?" His voice rose suddenly by decibels. "All the good material is either taken or super expensive. How could I even possibly have competed for The Hunger Games or Harry Potter? Then, after months and months of nothing, the finances dried up, the in-laws came to visit... I just couldn't handle it anymore. They looked at me as if I had the plague and advised their daughter to divorce me. Can you believe that?"
"Okay, calm down." I tried to suppress the rising negativity at its source, but my neighbor cut me off.
"I desperately need an idea. An idea to adapt some already-existing intellectual property with great potential into a franchise and finally flood away all of my problems."

Just one strong look at my neighbor revealed his complex troubles and high level of desperation. Posting bail really wouldn't do him any favors. Luckily for him, I remembered playing a computer game when I was a child. This game was so good, addicting, and popular at the time that I was surprised it had never crossed anybody's mind to develop it for the screen. This game had everything it needed to become a franchise in movie theaters.

"Have you ever heard of Laser Squad?"
"Laser what? No. What is that?" my puzzled neighbor responded.
"It’s your ticket to paradise. It’s your franchise material. It’s a project that will turn you into the best son-in-law on planet Earth." As I finished, I saw his eyes spark a bit. "Laser Squad was one of the most popular computer games of the '80s. I think it received 9.3 out of 10 from computer magazines at the time."
"The '80s," he interrupted me. "Couldn't you find something closer to our time?"

"Yes, personal computers back in the '80s weren't the household items they are today, nor did they have anywhere near the power of their modern counterparts." I didn't let him confuse me as I continued. "But find me one, only one, owner of ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64, then powerhouse computers, who never played Laser Squad. Let me tell you right now, you won't find such a person. That's right. Everybody played this game, and it holds up even today among games that have superior graphics and dozens of writers on staff to craft the stories."

"Alright. How is this possible? A game from 1988 that is able to compete with games today? What is the secret?"
"There is no secret. Laser Squad game play is awesome and players need strategy to complete the missions. The game was and still is super addicting. Laser Squad puts you in charge of a squad of space marines and cyborgs to complete a mission. By today's standards, Laser Squad missions are very simple, yet even by those standards, they are amazingly interesting. The original missions included ‘The Assassins,’ ‘Moonbase Assault,’ ‘Rescue from the Mines,’ ‘The Cyber Hordes,’ and ‘Paradise Valley.’ I strongly believe that ‘The Assassins’ or ‘Moonbase Assault’ should be the starting point of your screen adaptation. You can go with either one, whichever appeals more to you."

"Okay. We're getting somewhere... I think," he mumbled, still not convinced. "Let's talk about the first two missions, then."
"Mission number one: ‘The Assassins.’ Synopsis is as follows: The Marsec Corporation manufactures the best weapons in the galaxy, but its boss, Sterner Regnix, uses unsavory methods to extract the best from his top scientists. Mind control drugs and cybernetic implants are widely used but officially denied by Marsec. The Inter-stellar Trading Standards Authority is powerless to intervene. A small band of ex-employees have decided to assassinate Sterner Regnix. They have located his private home on planet CX-1 and will stop at nothing until Sterner is dead."
"I see the potential there... You said I should consider the second mission as well?"
"Second mission: ‘Moonbase Assault.’ The Omni Corporation's moon base on Arid-6 holds security information on the 30-billion-person population of Galaxy Sector Nine. Somewhere in Sector Nine is a rebel star system, the infamous Rebelstar, the location of which remains a secret from all its enemies. However, the Arid-6 moon base represents the biggest threat to the rebels so far, with an increasing amount of data on rebel movements. A small band of rebels have penetrated the moon's outer defenses and are poised to launch an attack on the moon base itself."

"I like this one a lot. But the first one also has something... I'm just not exactly sure what… What about the characters?"
"Laser Squad gave details to its characters. The details mattered and would change according to the situation. How about that for a 1988 game? Morale, stamina, weapon skill, agility, strength, armor... all this did matter. Morale would change depending on the developments during the game and would in turn influence decisions and shooting. While in first three missions, a total of ten team members appear in the game, only three are present in all three missions. They are Corporal Jonlan, Private Anderson, and Private Stone. Privates Harris and Turner join the trio in the first and third missions, while Corporal Hewie, Privates O'Hara, Dickson, and Smales, and android Baker join the trio in ‘Moonbase Assault.’ There's a new set of characters for the fourth and fifth missions, but I'd suggest using characters from first three."

My neighbor rose from the jail bed. His head buried in deep thoughts, he started pacing wall to wall in complete silence. Only the sound of a cockroach trying unsuccessfully to climb the slick cell wall disturbed his steps. After a minute of pacing, he suddenly turned to me, his hands lifted and projecting his words.

"Laser Squad - The Assassins..." he started enthusiastically, "is a science fiction/action screenplay based on one of the most popular computer games of the '80s. In the distant future, a small band of rebels assemble to assassinate Sterner Regnix, boss of the Marsec Corporation, the biggest and most advanced weapons manufacturer in space. Regnix is using the protection and position of his company for illegal activities distributing drugs and cybernetic implants..." He stopped there for a second. "What do you think? I allowed myself to shift a bit from the game. I’m trying to link the first two missions. I think this link adds more substance to them. Does that feel alright?"
"It feels very good indeed. But be aware of other important elements that favor this project. In your pitch, include the following: 1. Laser Squad is a known property. Published in 1988. Millions have played Laser Squad, and the game influenced the development of other sci-fi games in later decades... 
“2. You can bet all PC magazines and gamers around the world will give you a free ad when you announce that Laser Squad will become a movie... 
“3. Franchise material. HOT, HOT, HOT, and I mean sizzling hot. If there's an untapped sci-fi franchise material out there, it is Laser Squad. Literally all five original missions could easily be adapted to the screen....
“4. The title. It is super catchy and makes an instant impact. A marketing department unable to create a compelling campaign for something called Laser Squad - The Assassins or Laser Squad - Moonbase Assault should immediately be dismissed and never rehired in the marketing field...
“5. Characters. Laser Squad offers an opportunity to create strong film characters, not just some random futuristic space soldiers. True, the game originally did not have a female character, which seems to be very important in the movies, but that can easily be changed. The variety of androids and robots, especially those opposing the Laser Squad, is very interesting. You just need to add a little futuristic tweak here and there... 
“6. CGI. If Laser Squad was difficult to make in '80s, '90s or early 2000s, it wouldn’t be now. All the futuristic weapons, robots, and androids are now possible to create and develop further...
“7. Return on investment. This is what matters to producers and power players in Hollywood. Laser Squad could possibly be one of the easiest and most affordable intellectual properties to acquire, with a great potential for profit. The game was developed by Julian Gollop and Target Games. I believe the company is defunct now. You should start from there."

He clenched his fist and extended it victoriously. "Yes! I got it." A huge smile broke on his face. After the moment of euphoria, he calmed down and looked at me. "Thank you. Thank you very much. I mean it."
"Don't thank me," I responded quickly. "Start working on the project. I'll be watching you."


          Find more ideas for movies and TV at VillanLabs' Five Minute Projects - 5M Project

          Your neighborhood villain.

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VillianLabs by Rogue Saint: Laser Squad - The best video game adaptation
Laser Squad - The best video game adaptation
Another day in the life of our fictional Hollywood super developer, packaged as satirical five minute story. Part of the 5M Projects. Written by Rogue Saint.
VillianLabs by Rogue Saint
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