STORY / GAMEPLAY
The game's story is based on the North African campaign from the WWII in which you mostly control a Sherman tank in pursuit of the "Desert Fox", the Nazi Germany's Rommel forces. Your main task is to save all the Allied depots by reaching them with your tank before Rommel's powers reach first. A map is showing the depots, the status, the enemy movements and gives four options of action: zoom, radio, air strike and move. Using the zoom option you can examine a depot to see its supplies and armed forces. Air strike can be called in order to buy some time (until you reach a certain depot). The move option takes you towards the direction the radio beacon is pointing (with which you can examine any possible enemy actions). On the arcade scenes, you control your tank (viewed from inside the turret of your Sherman) and you need to destroy every enemy tank (Tank Duel scene) or Stukas airplanes (by reaching a certain score i.e. 5000 for the tanks and 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 also need to adjust your cannons accordingly, either higher or lower, in order to successfully hit an airplane flying straight at you. On the Minefields scene you need to drive your Sherman through a wide minefield to successfully steer through as fast as you can without sustaining too much damage (until a certain score is reached). Here you may also use your cannon (that's already lowered) to destroy mines on your way. Upon hitting a mine the tank will stick in the sand and time speeds up to indicate the time spent digging the tank out. To avoid wasting time when inside a minefield, keep moving as soon as you see your tank treads getting covered with sand! Fortunately, shooting out many mines will decrease your (previous) damage! The Ambush and Convoy attacks are quite interesting as well. The ambush takes you down a canyon where mortars appear on the walls at your left and your right side and a certain number has to be destroyed before you get 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 automatically adjust their aiming height, you only have to shoot the Stukas and avoid destroying the allied Spitfires. Here you need to score high enough before the convoy passes, in order to save it. Note that through all scenes you have a certain energy bar that decreases when being hit by a mine or an enemy projectile or when much of the convoy is 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 the enemy 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 it difficult to compete at the upcoming stages. Each campaign lasts at least 24 virtual 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 the Stukas and the minefields) so avoid them! Desert Fox is great in every aspect. Although this is a 1985 game, it's so fun to play. The arcade sequences are well put together and the gameplay varies a lot. Also, its overall presentation is quite unique for its time!
GRAPHICS / SOUND
The game's visuals are quite good, considering that the game was developed in mid 80s! Although the backgrounds and sprites (tanks, airplanes etc) do not have the best detail (ok the terrain is a desert so no more than a few dunes are needed here), the way they move is great. The screen scrolling is quite smooth, especially when you either strafe your turret or navigate your Sherman through the minefields. The game's sound is basic, with simple sound effects (explosions etc)