Retro Sci-Fi Games: Gammarauders

Posted by Guest Author on Mar 19, 2008 in Videogames |

Retro Sci-Fi Games: Gammarauders

It seems almost impossible to fall over in a game store without knocking over a few dozen sci-fi themed games, so we wanted to take a look at the ten best examples of the genre. Our twist? Retro! So here’s one glimpse of the future from the past:


Released by TSR in 1987, Gammarauders is a crazy hodgepodge of post-apocalypticism, table-top role-playing and sci-fi comedy. From the game’s World Book:

“It was a time of peace and plenty. Men flew in multicolored suits. Women worked magic by wiggling their noses. Vehicles talked. Blond genies lived in bottles. Hillbillies invaded a land called Beverly…”

And it goes on like that. For twenty pages.

The game is played with large cardboard hexagonal areas รก la Settlers of Catan, much smaller cardboard token pieces representing troops, various action cards and, the main attraction, sheets featuring the Bioborgs. Bioborgs are huge mutated animals ranging from a t-rex to a kangaroo to a penguin and more, all massive and outfitted with lethal weaponry. The players assume the role of one of the various wacky groups and gangs ranging from hippies to gangsters to samurai. The whole thing has a very over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek tone, but in fact little of the back story has much effect on the actual game play. The main appeal is the ever changing battlefield and the crazy visuals. For example, the weapon cards all feature unique designs and crazy names like the Helio-Conic Slugger, Neonuclear Flamer and Omni-Ionized Gas Emissions.

While the World Book paints a tremendously detailed, sarcastic and very ’80s world, they also saw fit to release a comic book series. It was (unsurprisingly) ill-fated and only lived to see 10 issues before folding in 1989.

All things considered, Gammarauders feels like an elaborate college project, begun in a drunken haze and developed just a bit too far beyond the initial late night joke. Still, a T-Rex with a laser strapped to its head is pretty mint.

Zac Bentz is a regular contributor to the Japanese culture blog Japanator, runs his own Japanese music review blog ZB’s A-Z of J-Music and plays crazy electro-rock in The Surfactants. He lives in Duluth, MN with his wife, pets and a closet full of adventure.

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