It was international espionage on the high seas with the Electronic Radar Search Game. Released in 1969 by Ideal, the strategy game pitted two players against each other in a traditional “cat and mouse” chase scenario.
There were competing objectives to winning the game. One player assumed the role of “spy” and attempted to sail two ships from HQ into one of two locations (Grants Quay or Austins Bay), pick up some secret plans, and then return to the base of operations. The second player took on the role of “agent” and attempted to use a Radar-equipped helicopter to intercept and capture one of the spy’s ships before the mission was accomplished.
Radar Search employed a vertical, two-sided game board that allowed each player’s moves to be hidden from the other. Each side of the board depicted an identical map consisting of dotted lines (shipping lanes) running between a series of numbered holes. Players used a set of wires and plastic pieces to both move around the board and track their opponent’s movement. The act of disconnecting and reconnecting wires made the playing surface act and feel like a vintage telephone switchboard.
Players used a Radar Scope (powered by two D-batteries) to indicate their movements on the board. As moves were made on each side, the Radar Scope was used in concert with the playing pieces to update the game board. The spy moved one ship one space at a time, while the agent’s helicopter moved twice as fast, allowing it to move one or two spaces per turn. As moves were made, a buzzer sounded if the helicopter makes contact (rested in the same hole on the game board) with one of the two ships.
At first glance, the simple fact that each player’s movements were so transparent made it seem like it would be nearly impossible for the spy to complete the mission without being apprehended. However, the right amount of strategy and planning leveled the playing field.
Electronic Radar Search was on store shelves for three years before it disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of discontinued games.
Todd Coopee is Editor-in-Chief of Toy Tales, an online publication that covers toys and games past and present.