The game is based on the North African campaign from the WWII in which you control (mainly) a Sherman tank in pursuit of the "Desert Fox", Nazi Germany's Rommel forces. Your main task is to save all the Allied depots in the campaign by reaching them with your tank before Rommel reaches one or it falls to the enemy surrounding it. A map is showing you the depots, and the status and movements of the enemy, and offers four options of actions: zoom, radio, air strike and move. Using the zoom option you may examine a depot to see what supplies and armed forces power it has. Air strikes can be called in order to buy some time (until you reach a certain depot). The move option takes you in the direction the radio beacon is pointing (with which you can examine the possible enemy actions).
In the arcade scenes you control mostly your tank (view from the turret of your Sherman) in which you need to destroy the enemy tanks (Tank Duel scene) or Stukas (by reaching a certain score i.e. 5000 for the tanks, 3000 for the Stukas) in order to succeed. The tanks move from left to right across the horizon and you just strafe your turret accordingly. When battling with Stukas, you need (also) to adjust accordingly your cannon high or low in order to successfully hit an airplane flying straight at you. In the Minefields scene you need to drive your Sherman through a wide minefield to successfully steer through as fast as you can without sustaining very much damage (until a certain score is reached). Here you may also use your cannon (already lowered) in order to destroy mines found on your way. Upon hitting a mine, the tank will become stuck in sand, and time speeds up to indicate time spent digging the tank out. To avoid wasting time in the minefields, get moving as soon as you see your tank treads getting covered in sand! Fortunately, shooting out many mines will decrease your (previous) damage!
Ambush and Convoy attacks are quite interesting too. The ambush takes you down a canyon where mortars appear on the walls at your left and right, and a certain number have to be destroyed before you got too many hits. The convoy scene puts you in control of two machineguns, as Stukas dive-bombers (in red) and Spitfires (in green) fly across the screen. Although the machineguns are automatically adjust their aiming height, you only have to shoot the Stukas and avoid the Spitfires using by deciding when to fire. Here you need to score high enough before the convoy passes in order to save it. Note that at all scenes you have a energy bar which decreases if being hit by a mine, or an enemy shell or too many of the convoy is being bombed. Either your tank damage gauge is full or your depots fall to the enemy.
If you encounter Rommel himself then the action is the same as the Tank Duel stage except that one tank has to be hit eight times. This will save one of your depots without having to visit it or otherwise your energy will get really low making difficult for you to compete at the other stages.
Each campaign lasts (virtually) at least 24 hours, which means there are day, dusk, night, and dawn sequences. Rommel's forces are difficult to locate during the night and dusk sequences (especially Stukas and minefield) so avoid them then!
Desert Fox is great in every aspect I think. Although this is a 1985 game, it offered so many to play with. The arcade sequences are well put together and gameplay varies a lot and its overall presentation is quite unique for its time. A great game!
Graphics are quite good considering that this game was developed in the mid 80's! Although backgrounds and sprites (tanks, airplanes etc) are not of the best detail (ok the terrain is a desert, no more than a few dunes are needed here), the way they move is smooth. Smooth also is the screen scrolling especially when you either strafe your turret or drive your Sherman in the minefields. The sound is basic offering simple SFX (explosions etc).