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Gamer Obscura: It Came From The Desert - Destructoid


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A self proclaimed professor of survival horror despite only having a BA (Hons) degree in film. Go figure.

Okay, maybe I should write more here but I once did an interview for Law's blog, which explains everything about me.

In the meantime, I'm just a guy who writes about videogame theory and how the medium can achieve better cinematic emulation (while keeping its own indentity). Though, if that's too boring, you can always find something delightfully fluffy in the following:

Gamer Obscura

Gregory Horror Show
Glass Rose
Michigan: Report From Hell
Steambot Chronicles
Chase The Express
The X Files FMV Game
SOS: The Final Escape & Raw Danger
G-Police & G-Police: Weapons of Justice
Friday The 13th: The Computer Game
Hard Edge
DENNIS HOPPER featuring Black Dahlia
The Note
The Police Quest Collection
It Came From The Desert
Blade Runner
Men in Black: The Game
Famicom Detective Club Part II
Ham-Ham Heartbreak

Unsung Heroes

Brad Garrison (Dead Rising)
Jenny Romano (The Darkness)
Cass (Fallout: New Vegas)

Hey, check out these inane ramblings:

The Vague History of UK Videogame TV shows

Part 1 (Bad Influence, Gamesmaster & Games World)
Part 2 (BITS & videoGaiden/consoleVania)
Part 3 (the worst and the future)

The Assimilation of Eastern & Western Horror in Videogames

Part 1 (The Eastern/Western Horror Assimilation)
Part 2 (Interaction and Narrative)
Part 3 (Case Study)


Skip To The End: Max Payne 2
The Lost Idea of An Adventures of Pete & Pete Game
My Unpopular Opinion: I Liked Alone in The Dark 5
Hey BBC! Where's My Doctor Who Game?!
Loving Dr. Chakwas
The 'Fun Simulacrum' of Movie/TV License Games
Why Devs Don't Get The Colonial Marines From Aliens
It's Okay To Like B-Movie Games
Endings That Made Me Cry...Like A Man
Who Do You Trust?
Dancing With Myself
My Unpopular Opinion: Silent Hill 4 Deserved Better
Theme Hospital & The Embarrassing Operation of Old
When It Comes To Noir in Videogames, "It's Chinatown"
My Irreverent & Irrelevant Awards Show 2010
Amateur Bedroom Critics
Sydney Briar is Alive
The Big Gumbo
Alan Wake's Hallowiener Special
...And So I Watch You From Afar


Some poor sap let me onto their awesome podcast. These are the horrific results...

Deus Ex
Resident Evil 2
Duke Nukem 3D

Secret Moon Base

They sent me into space for this podcast. There were no survivors...

Fiddling Nightbear

Monthly Musings

I Suck At Games: Stretching My RPGs Out into A Year & A Half Ordeal

Improving Gaming Communities: We Need A Gaming Fonzie

The Future: Laughing At The Past

Something About Sex: It's A Conquest, Not A Catalyst

Alternate Reality: "My other car is a Trotmobile!"

Teh Bias: Starting At The Ground Floor

Groundhog Day: One DeSoto, Two Carefree Owners

Front Page

Nothing Is Sacred: 'It looks like the lock is broken. I can't open it.'

Love/Hate: Shark Jumping Videogame Writers

E for Effort: The Adventures of Mega & Master (A Cautionary Tale)

The Lament of Solitary Antagonistic Horror

2010 Sucked: Why Cing Will Be Unknowingly Missed

Technical Difficulties: Rainbow Six FUBAR

Cass from New Vegas

Honest Endings for Honest Hearts

Growing Old Disgracefully

Thanks for reading!
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If youíre a fan of X-COM, then you probably have already GASPED...IN...HORROR... as youíve seen the series being RE-IMAGINED FOR TERRIFYING HD-TV! While the FRIGHTENING IN YOUR FACE first person style has no doubt annoyed the hell out of the originalís fans, I for one welcome 2K Marin as our new overlords and their 1950íS TECHNOLOGY STYLINGS AGAINST COMMUNISTS FROM MARS aesthetics.

This is coming from a guy who has yet to understand the fuss of Mad Men.

As Iíve mentioned before, videogames work well when they emulate the B-Movie industry. One could argue that both industries share many productive similarities too, like creating cheap productions for a quick turnaround. Aside from that, itís a compelling era for examination, commentary and the odd Mystery Science Theatre 3000-style laugh; one that can almost be introspective for a young videogame industry.

Then again, you know somebody out there would cock it up and send videogame credibility back to the Stone Age.

Still, itís an era that opens up a whole world of possibilities in a landscape renowned for science fiction, horror and adventure. So much so, it gives me hope for videogames for finding its accepted place in the AMAZING FUTURISTIC WORLD OF THE FUTURE...OF TOMORROW!

It Came From The Desert
Developer: Cinemaware
Release Info: Amiga and PC versions released in 1990 and are now Freeware...Woo!

It Came From The Desert puts you in the courageous shoes of Dr. Greg Bradley - a meteorologist researching a crashed meteor (obviously) in the dead-beat Arizona town of Lizard Breath. Within the first day of impact, Doc discovers that the radioactive effects from the crater have mutated the local ant population to giant man-eating insects. Of course, nobody believes him except a select few and he has to collect enough evidence to call in the National Guard, destroy the Queen and save the town from destruction. If he fails, the giant ants might just TAKE OVER THE WORLD and maybe do battle with those giant rabbits from Night of The Lepus.

In all honesty, itís a pointless exercise to make fun of something thatís intentionally lampooning the source material and it would be wrong to do so with It Came From The Desert. Itís actually hard to find fault with a story that plays out every cringe worthy moment of a sci-fi horror movie with a tongue firmly in its outsized mandible.

To put it bluntly, itís the videogame equivalent of Tremors.

It Came From The Desert is an adventure/strategy/action hybrid thatís broken up with mini-games and adheres to an unforgiving deadline. Your first aim is travel around Lizard Breath to find evidence of the giant ants. Along the way, you talk to many stereotypical townsfolk who give you hints where to go and sometimes the evidence you need. This is all taken to the local University Lab where they send it off for analysis.

Once youíve collected enough results, you have to show it all to the sceptical Mayor, who will allow you access to the National Guard and local law enforcement. Up to this point, the game changes pace as you deploy men around the town to stop the ant invasion, while you singlehandedly look for the hiveís entrance and destroy the Queen with a few sticks of dynamite.

While it sounds simple enough, the game gives you fifteen days to defeat the ants and every action you make eats away precious minutes. You have to take in consideration your travelling time, the opening hours of locations and your need to sleep. Collecting evidence relies on you being at the right place at the right time, since everyone moves about on a schedule and just about location gives you a reason to investigate.

In the end, youíre usually torn between investigating a mysterious car wreck and asking your girlfriend for sightings at the local radio station; it probably takes hours of replay just to see everyoneís motivations pan out.

Itís a game thatís heavily dependent on factors.

One minute youíre questioning the yokel farmer and the next, you have to defend yourself in a mini-game where an ant wanders across the screen and you have to shoot the antennas off to down it (because all scientists in the 50ís carried a .45 handgun).

Succeed and you have to survive a horde from a top-down perspective shoot-em-up. Oh joy!

Fail and youíre off to the hospital to stare at Nurse Judyís GINORMATRON BOOBIES IN 2D.

Of course, staying in hospital for two days is never good for anybodyís ant killing schedule, so youíre given the option to escape. However, by escaping, you have to play a game of cat and mouse with the hospital staff that will strap you to the bed once caught.

This is why America needs ĎSocialist Careí!

Or if youíre British Ė ďHe should have gone to BUPA.Ē

Take your pick.

Everything is hazardous on the road when you donít get seven hours sleep or have to play Chicken with the local Greasers. Aggravate the local cult leader and youíll end up in a knife fight. Nearly every situation is designed to put you in the hospital and waste time.

Thereís so much going on here that you can miss out on a few opportunities as time rolls on. In a nice twist, the more events you miss, the more alternative options open up to you. I canít remember the last time where losing meant more fun. If youíre quick, you can find the hive within five days but youíll miss out on controlling a Sherman Tank later on! Finishing the job early means you donít get to see the impending doom evolve as minor sightings gradually build into reports of the town being cut off from the outside world.

The only problem with It Came From The Desert is that it requires you fail several times and learn to be more efficient through different choices. If youíve ever played Dead Rising, then youíll know all about a game that purposefully forces you to restart in the name of experience and itís not fun until you get a handle on things.

By doing so, the Groundhog Day approach wears thin and by becoming superhumanly efficient with the gameís schedule, you lose out on what makes the game special in the first place Ė the stereotypical B-Movie storyline and the characterís interactions with each other. The story makes sense with several sittings, but on the separate occasions it plays out assuming your participation. For example, the Docís assistant will talk about events that you were involved in during one attempt but didnít bother to play this time around.


Nitpicking aside, itís shocking to find that nobody has ever bothered to remake this game. When you think about it, hybrid strategy games are a rarity and the ones that do get made are largely ignored. Either way, playing It Came From The Desert might just lower your cynicism of the X-COM remake or at least give you a new-found interest in games that set out to solely entertain with their B-Movie ideals.










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