Harpoon is a series of realistic air and naval computer wargames based upon Larry Bond's miniatures game of the same name. Players can choose between either the Blue or Red side in simulated naval combat situation, which includes local conflicts as well as simulated Cold War confrontations between the Superpowers. Missions range from small missile boat engagements to large oceanic battles, with tens of vessels and hundreds of aircraft. The game includes large databases containing many types of real world ships, submarines, aircraft, and land defenses (i.e. air bases and ports).
The simulation has a growing and dedicated fan base with several websites offering a varying styles of scenarios and discussion forums, especially as the latest edition includes a feature to allow players to create their own scenarios. Often described as a "niche within a niche market," development of the simulation has progressed steadily through the years despite the overwhelming numerical and graphical superiority of first-person shooter and real-time strategy games. Advanced Gaming Systems, Inc. (AGSI), developers of Harpoon 3 Advanced Naval Warfare, currently distributes the simulation through Matrix games with technical support handled on a co-operative basis by AGSI and Matrix games employees.
Harpoon was originally developed by Three-Sixty Pacific and has had several development paths and publishers. Despite the widespread success of the game, Three-Sixty Pacific experienced financial difficulties and went under in 1994. Currently all computer rights rest with AGSI, who continues to improve the series with new developments and releases. In 2006, AGSI released Harpoon Advanced Naval Warfare (ANW) which allowed players to compete with human opponents for the first time in the game's history.
Harpoon's interface emphasizes technical accuracy over graphical polish, with simple 2D symbols to simulate a warship's radar display. There has been considerable debate in the game's user community about the decision of the developers to utilize 3D graphics in later versions of the program. Since March 2009, two releases are available to AGSI civilian customers. Harpoon Commanders Edition is an updating version based on the game engine of the original series. Harpoon 3 Advanced Naval Warfare is the current civilian edition of the product. Military customers are offered Harpoon 3 Pro, which is tailored for customer specifications. There is also a Macintosh version that lies between the Harpoon II and Harpoon 3 Advanced Naval Warfare called "Harpoon III v3.6.3"
Development of both commercial versions is ongoing, with the most recent release being V3.9.4 (March 2009). Other features in the upcoming release of v3.10 will include: Parametrized Missions, Encrypted databases and scenarios, and Harpoon Users Database (HUD) 3 database with all original scenarios updated as well.