Time for a different Missed Classic. This one wasn't missed because it came out too early or didn't quite fit as a PC graphic adventure game. It had the option to be played as part of the blog but failed as nobody was willing to spend their CAPs to take this from Disregarded to Accepted.
And for that, I'm glad. It Came From The Desert is very clearly not an adventure game. It also isn't a game specific to any genre. It contains many action sequences and some strategy sequences all wrapped up in a somewhat adventure game-style exploration and investigation.
|Disclaimer: No ants cried uncle during the making of this game|
A year or two after release a clearly inferior port made it to PC, and that's the version I'll be mainly reviewing here, though I'll be playing both the Amiga original and the PC version and comparing the two. As an example of the differences, here's the opening from both versions.
It Came From the Desert was also one of the first games with an expansion pack (not the first, that honour goes to a 1981 expansion to Temple of Apshai.)
There have been other ports of It Came From The Desert, notably a totally different game with the same basic premise and Full Motion Video for the Tubografx CD
There is also, currently, a low-budget movie being made and a planned release of a Sega Megadrive/Genesis version that was shelved 24 years ago.
|Coming to a |
Doctor Greg Bradley Journal entry #1: Talk about timing. While doing geological studies on rocks near the sleepy desert town of Lizard's Breath, a meteorite hit the ground, creating some much more interesting rocks to study. I've hired a local prospector and a high school student to assist me in my research, and possibly found love with the local DJ. Things are going swimmingly – I'm now visiting a local farm and... oh my god, what IS that thing........................
As I start the game, the local prospector, Geez, knocks on my door with some rock samples I've paid him to find.
|I'm glad I rented the only place in Lizard Breath with a drive through window, but I'm sick of drunk kids waking me up at 2am asking for a burger and fries|
I take the rocks and as Geez leaves, my high school assistant Biff, who both looks and is named nothing like a science student and more like the kind of guy who beats up science students in 1950s fiction, arrives and looks at the rocks, pointing out the red glowing one.
|When the options come up one of them is "Hand me the red one" which is clearly the stupidest option.|
Choosing the stupid option gives you your first action minigame, which I am extremely bad at. I don't know how to do it, but you move the extinguisher around and project water at the fire. I've tried aiming at the bottom and top of the flames but can't seem to get it right.
|Oh no. I've accidentally set fire to my couch-slug. My last thoughts before I black out are "I'll make sure to blame all this on Biff."|
I instead ask Biff to sample the glowing one for radiation, then have it sent to the lab (the results will arrive in 2 days) for more testing. I make a mental note to ask Geez where the samples came from and remind myself that he's likely to be at O'Riordan's Bar. I then call Dusty at KBUG radio. She tells me that she'll be at O'Riordan's at 6pm after she gets off work and has some really crazy story to tell me.
We get to the map screen, which shows us the time with the minutes constantly ticking forward, making the urgency of the situation clear. One thing that surprises me: this game was originally made for the Amiga and the Amiga has a mouse as its primary input yet the map only uses joystick (or keyboard arrow key) input to move the cursor. The map seems perfectly designed for mouse control but amazingly doesn't use it.
|A missed opportunity to use a mouse if ever I saw one|
I visit JD's farm next and a farmhand tells me part of the story about the headless cow before freezing and staring over my shoulder. He hightails it out of there just before I turn around and...
Action sequence 2: Ant versus pistol.
Action sequence 3: Top-down ant versus pistol.
|If you kill enough ants the others run away and you get a piece of vital evidence|
I woke up in hospital and was told that I would have to spend 2 days recuperating. Bugger that, I thought. I'm escaping this joint.
Action sequence 4: Hospital escape.
This was always one of my favourite action sequences. You can hide under bed covers and nab a wheelchair for extra speed while doctors, orderlies and nurses try to stop you and sedate you so you can't escape proper treatment (does this really ever happen? I thought if I didn't want to be treated I could just leave hospital at any time - but not in Lizard Breath – healthcare here isn't a privilege or a right, it's a requirement!)
|Isn't running around the hospital with a tranquilizer hypo bad for OH&S?|
Unfortunately, I didn't escape and was strapped to a hospital bed for 2 days. A good time to end the first post I think.
Note that this game plays differently to most. I have the option to not answer the door when Geez knocks, and can just leave, sleep or make a call. I can go wherever I want and people will go on living their lives without my interference. This really adds to the immersion of the game. It makes me feel like it's a real town with real people instead of a game where everyone stands in one spot waiting for me to show up and ask them a question.
So, get your PISSED rating score guesses in and join me for a while in the lazy town of Lizard Breath.
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. You can read it here but it doesn't really apply very well for this game. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. Probably no point in betting I'll fail a puzzle too, but they're your CAPs - do with them what you will. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.