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Computer Wargame Review - Guadalcanal

Title: Guadalcanal

guadalcanal Company: HPS Simulations

Price: $49.94
Buy It In The StrategyPage Store for $37.77!

Designers: John Tiller

Reviewed By: Harold C. Hutchison

Overview/Background

Guadalcanal was the first Allied Offensive against the Japanese. Coming eight months after Pearl Harbor, the offensive was an ad-hoc affair laid on after Allied codebreakers discovered the presence of an airfield under construction on the Island of Guadalcanal.

The naval battles decided the end result of the campaign. Guadalcanal Naval Campaigns simulates many of the naval battles, from Savo Island to the climactic Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.

Manuals

The manuals are simple and straightforward. They do not go into the
history, only how to operate the scenario.

System

The system is simple, but not very transparent. The realism is present, including fog of war. The tactical simulation has simple objectives: Do more damage to the other guy than they do to your ships. It is not quite realistic in one scenario I created, despite wiping out the opposing force, I was declared the loser (in a slight victory for them). One can wonder if that is how it would be considered in the real world.

Game Features

Guadalcanal comes with a scenario editor and a variety of scenarios. The scenario editor forces a person to take the map into account. One does not want his ships pinned in Tulagi Harbor by a superior force with no way out. There is a serious limit, however. The scenario editor will only allow you to select ships from one of the naval battles. This can be a little frustrating, and does limit the flexibility of the game.

The ability to recreate the historical results from the scenarios is present, but a skillful player can turn the results on their head. The reviewer did just that with the battle of Cape St. George, sinking all of the American destroyers were sunk for the loss of two Japanese destroyers. I was also able to re-create the original results.

The eye candy is not present in this simulation, but one gets a real sense of how the fog of war affects operations, and there is a real effort to authentically bring the essence of commanding a surface group to the user. These efforts at realism are to be commended.

The user interface takes some time to get used to, and it is one that one needs to keep fresh on. Not knowing how to use it will cost one dearly in any of the battles which makes training important. The scenario editor can provide such training through the use of a one-sided scenario (although even a one-sided scenario wont mean you dont suffer damage).

Summary

Guadalcanal Naval Campaigns is capable of running on just about any computer presently available and many older ones. It is a solid simulation, albeit it is one that could stand to provide more flexibility in the scenario editor. An interface that is much more user friendly than the current one would make the game a good recommendation for a wider audience. As it stands now, this simulation is probably best suited for advanced naval wargamers who are dedicated to that hobby, or for those who seek realistic portrays of what it is like to command a surface group in combat. The casual user or newcomer could easily be frustrated by the interface. It is an above-average simulation overall.

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