A look back at Dune’s video games – Destructoid


Towards sands, strategy and a whole bunch of spices

Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of the 1965 science fiction novel Dune went live in theaters and on HBO Max this weekend. But the big screen is not the only medium to have tried to bring the dunes of Arrakis to life. DuneThe legacy of in video games is not only notable, but revolutionary in some ways, and a bit dramatic as well.

The last time we did it, around the premiere of evangelization‘s Once upon a time three times, we’ve delved into a series of visual novels, media discs, and even a hidden gem of a Nintendo 64 game. The gaming legacy of Dune is quite remarkable, at least for one company in particular: Westwood. But let’s start from the beginning.

Come back to Dune

There is, by a general statement, five licensees Dune Games. There are also several board games, role-playing games and even MUDs (aka Multi-User Dungeon) from Dune. But the commercial video game legacy of books began with the 1992 game. Dune. Well, one of them.

Developed by Cryo Interactive, Dune (1992) was released for MS-DOS and Amiga, and then arrived on Sega CD in 1993. It was one of the first floppy-format games converted to CD, and this version included footage of David Lynch’s adaptation, dubbing and 3D scenes. It is based on the original novel, following Paul Atreides as his family receives the stronghold of the desert planet Arrakis from the Emperor. You are responsible for managing relations, both with the local Fremen and the rival faction, Harkonnen.

It’s a mix of point-and-click adventure and real-time strategy, both aspects of House Atreides’ success or failure. It’s quite ahead of its time, with its mix of politics, dialogue, exploration, and strategy reminiscent of games like Deity: Dragon Commander.

He had a development that would have been disrupted, and eventually, found herself in competition with herself. Because Dune (1992) was not the only one 1992 Dune Game. Meanwhile, another company was working on its own version of Dune, which was also inspired by the strategy to be inspired by it.

To order and conquer

In December 1992, Westwood Studios released its own Dune video game under several different names. Known as Dune II: building a dynasty, Dune II: Battle of Arrakis, Dune: Battle of Arrakis, Or simply Dune II, it was also based on Lynch’s film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel.

In Westwood’s version, the player takes control of one of three houses: Atreides, Harkonnen, and the Ordos, the latter being a new addition to Westwood’s game. The goal is to take control of Arrakis from the other two houses by harvesting spices and accumulating money, eventually funding an army to crush the enemy.

If this sounds familiar to you, well, it’s because Dune II was basically the model for many upcoming real-time strategy games, including Westwood’s Order and conquer.

In an article on the creation of the game in Edge, co-founder of Westwood and Dune II producer Brett Sperry credited a few sources of inspiration: partly people, celebrates his work on Eye of the beholder, and most importantly, an argument he once had with Strategic Simulations VP Chuck Kroegel. War games “sucked in”, as Sperry put it, because of a lack of innovation and poor design. He recalls Kroegel saying the category was in “long and slow decline” as players moved to more exciting genres.

“I felt the genre had a lot of potential – the surface was barely scratched as far as I’m concerned, especially from a design perspective,” Sperry said. Edge. “So I took it as a personal challenge and figured out how to harness real-time dynamics with great game controls in a fast-paced war game. “

The result was the real-time strategy game, something already experienced in the 1990s. Herzog Zwei, and now codified in Dune II. The game would go on to become a hit, leading to a semi-remake in Dune 2000 and Emperor: Battle for Dune in 2001.

This would also lead Westwood to create the Order and conquer series using a similar design philosophy, and it has become a pivotal game in the PC strategy space.

The return of cryo

Cryo Interactive, however, was not done with Dune. The developer would return to Herbert’s 2001 sci-fi novel with Franck Herbert‘s Dune. It was based on the 2000 Sci Fi Channel miniseries, and opted for a 3D adventure game setup, following Paul Atreides’ efforts to win over the Fremen and defeat Baron Harkonnen.

He arrived in the midst of trouble for the studio, and unfortunately Cryo slowly began to fall back and disband shortly after launching. Frank Herbert’s Dune. As its subsidiaries and studios closed, it took another Dune play with: the current project Generations of dunes.

Although the legacy versions created by fans of these older games and mods for other games keep it Dune With a living mind, the future of the sci-fi series video game is nebulous. Work to bring Dune the return to the play area is in progress, although it remains to be seen what form or when that will take.

Yet despite an absence in recent memory, the Dune video game adaptations of the series have left a permanent mark in the gaming industry. From a genuinely fascinating adventure-strategy hybrid to becoming the model for an entirely new kind of strategy, DuneThe mark of on-games can still be seen today, although only in modern remakes of its successors. And I hope that one day we will visit the virtual dunes of Arrakis again.

Screenshots and promotional art courtesy of MobyGames Archives.