Format reviewed: Sega CD/Mega CD
Publisher: Virgin interactive
Developer: Cryo Interactive
Submitted by: Elliot Tait
“Could he be the one?”, Dune in my opinion was one of the best games available on the ill fated Mega-CD. The game was also released on the Amiga in floppy disk format but I only played the Mega-CD version. A bit of a diamond in the rough. Dune is a cross between a point and click adventure game and a simplified command and conquer RTS.
As Paul Atreides the player has the unenviable job of changing the fortunes of an entire planet, so no pressure then. Based on the Frank Herbert book rather than the film, Paul must drive the Harkonnen from planet Dune. The Harkonnen are a proper bunch of nasty fat people who are determined to rid the planet of the Atradies family and their followers. Paul must also mine for a valuable space matter called spice and sell it. Paul must befriend the inhabitants of Dune, known as the fremen, and use their skills to mine the spice.
Latterly in the game Paul is able to control the fremen as soldiers. He is able to train and deploy soldiers to infiltrate Harkonnen territory. After taking territory Paul is able to mine for spice on the land.
It’s difficult to say what it is about Dune that makes it stand out. One contributing factor to it’s playability for me over the years is most certainly the characters. Strangely engrossing, memorable characters such as Gurney Halleck kept me capsulated throughout. The Fremen as a race are interesting and actually believable. Their willingness to trust an outsider to fight and work for is well paced and again believable. A side note, Dune harbours one of the most irritating game characters ever! Duncan Idaho he’s up there with slippy toad (Star Fox) and Fuk San (Shenmue).
Graphically it’s not the greatest game game to look at. But the art design is very eerie and certainly of another planet. Dune was ahead of it’s time story wise. Around that time in a world of, “Somebody’s off with the Princess again”, Dune’s deep exhilarating story made me want to finish the game.
I’ve undoubtedly caused more confusion than anything else in promoting Dune but if you have a few pound to spare and a mega-CD…I can confirm there aren’t many games that allow you to ride through the world on the back of a giant worm.
Format reviewed: Amiga 500
Publisher: Virgin Interactive
Submitted by: Mike Bevan
Virgin Interactive's first foray into the Dune universe is oft overlooked compared to Westwood's popular RTS sequel, but it's a fascinating, highly atmospheric title that's certainly deserving of recognition. Created by French developer Cryo, the game is a tantalising mix of strategy and point-and-click adventure, where players take the role of Paul Atreides (bearing an uncanny resemblance to Kyle MacLachlan – Virgin only had the film license rather than the rights to Frank Herbert's book saga) who has arrived on Dune to oversee Spice production, and combat the dastardly Harkonnen (strangely Sting is nowhere to be seen.) The exploration of Dune is achieved through a point-and-click first person view, not dissimilar to the Eye of the Beholder series, along with the use of an innovative Ornithopter piloting sequence, which allows players to click on nearby destinations on a mini-map and zip off, Space Harrier-style. The game is played out in speeded-up 'real time', (with beautiful day-night transitions) which adds a sense of urgency as you criss-cross the planet recruiting the indigenous Fremen to mine Spice, meet production quotas, and raid Harkonnen outposts. All while juggling your Fremen love-interest and dealing with nasty Spice Harvester-chomping Sand Worms.
Dune is a pleasure to play, thanks to its attractive and unusual interface, vivid characterisation and gorgeous presentation. Navigation, control of spice mining, and later, your Fremen army can be organised through a number of alternate map and strategy screens, most impressively the world-view map which takes in the whole planet, which can be spun on its axes at leisure. As you recruit more Fremen and 'seitch's, and your influence spreads across Dune, the game opens up into a more strategic affair, where spice and military production must be balanced to succeed against the computer controlled Harkonnen forces. Very Dune II, but with far less point-and-clicking…
A special mention should be made of Stephane Picq's remarkably atmospheric soundtrack – one of the very best of the 16-bit era. If you loved Westwood's Dune titles, but never played this, it comes highly recommended.