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Game info

It Came From The Desert

It Came From The Desert
GenreAction Adventure
Developer / PublisherCinemaware
Media3 x disk
Reviewed byndial
It Came From The Desert, is probably the best game released by Cinemaware, offering a movie-style gameplay and scenario, along with outstanding for its time audio and visuals. The story is based in the 1950's when a meteor hits the ground, and the desert became a dangerous place since then because of the presence of Hollywood-style giant mutant ants! While play might seem limited at first, there are dozens of variations in the game, depending on the choices you make. The game was initially released for the Commodore Amiga, and later ported to the PC (DOS). The game was later released for the NEC Turbografx CD and the Sega Megadrive/Genesis consoles but with different gameplay and graphics.
It Came From The DesertYou play the role of geologist Greg Bradley who's working in the small 50's desert town of Lizard Breath. You are a relative newcomer to the place, conducting research into the mineral content of meteor fragments, when a meteor falls down just outside the town and somehow produces a breed of giant ants that will overrun the town in 15 days! Unless you can intervene for the good guys! First you have to collect enough evidence to convince the local Sheriff that the problem is real and convince him to call out the National Guard. After that you direct the forces against the invasion and finally seek out the lair of the ants and destroy the Queen Ant and the nest. Well, these are not easy at all, trust me!
Gameplay centers around choosing what you want to do by selecting an option on the multiple choice screens that pop up. There are several buildings in town, as well as farms, mines, an airport, and even a drive-in theatre. Since time ticks away quickly at one minute per second of real time, quick decision is key to success. The main shell of the game has two elements - your view of static locations, in which you can interact with a particular person shown to be present, via a highlighted response menu plus a scrolling map of the town. Moving the screen pointer to each location will give you its name, plus the amount of time it will take you to get there. The attendant arcade sequences are a mixed lot! The one-to-one ant fights (where you have to shoot off a giant ant) are simple, relevant and well implemented in a shooting-gallery gameplay style. There is also an above view gameplay in which you try to avoid or take down ants or even escape from other folks, and even flying an airplane around the area to discover clues or taking down ants! And there is more: you also driving a car in a first-person perspective in which you go to certain places discovering evidence. But be noted: at any time, a giant ant may attack you or your car! In general, the game is a cross between a graphics adventure and an arcade adventure: you spend most of the time is adventure mode, interacting with the characters and trying to find clues that will pinpoint the whereabouts of the nest, and gather evidence to show to the Sheriff and the Mayor.
Winning the game is going to take a while, but It came From The Desert is a real masterpiece. The whole feel and atmosphere of the subject material has been caught excellently and, the arcade games are simple, but it's the adventuring side of things that really keeps you at it!

The game's graphics is a real showcase for a late 80's game. Every location is well drawn and all the arcade games are well animated and excellent looking. The Amiga offers 32 color screens and the details are some of the best back then following the successful reputation of Cinemaware! Every care has been taken to make the game look and feel like a 1950's B-movie!
The sound is also good and really atmospheric, though the tunes do tend to get a little repetitive. Gameplay involves high quality speech and several sampled SFX such as gun-firing, screams and lot more, and each visited location has a suitable jingle too.
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Gameplay sample
Some videos belong to (indicated); others not
Comparable platforms

32 colors
Commodore Amiga OCS/ECS

16 colors
Hardware information

Amiga 500/500+

Amiga 500/500+CPU: Motorola MC68000 7.16 MHz
MEMORY: 512KB of Chip RAM (OCS chipset - A500), 512 KB of Slow RAM or Trapdoor RAM can be added via the trapdoor expansion, up to 8 MB of Fast RAM or a Hard drive can be added via the side expansion slot. The ECS chipset (A500+) offered 1MB on board to 2MB (extended) of Chip RAM.
GRAPHICS: The OCS chipset (Amiga 500) features planar graphics (codename Denise custom chip), with up to 5 bit-planes (4 in hires), allowing 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 color screens, from a 12bit RGB palette of 4096 colors. Resolutions varied from 320x256 (PAL, non-interlaced, up to 4096 colors) to 640x512 (interlace, up to 4 colors). Two special graphics modes where also included: Extra Half Bright with 64 colors and HAM with all 4096 colors on-screen. The ECS chipset models (Amiga 500+) offered same features but also extra high resolution screens up to 1280x512 pixels (4 colors at once).
SOUND: (Paula) 4 hardware-mixed channels of 8-bit sound at up to 28 kHz. The hardware channels had independent volumes (65 levels) and sampling rates, and mixed down to two fully left and fully right stereo outputs
The Amiga 500/500+ (default) color palette
12bit RGB 4096-colors palette
(32 to 4096 colors on screen)
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