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It came from the desert logo

Mirrorsoft £29.95 joystick

It came from the desert Cinemaware are a unique bunch of American programmers. Since 1987 they have been writing Amiga games to a brief of capturing the ‘feel’ of a film on a computer. In the past that has usually meant excellent graphics and soundtracks that have, sadly, been offset by a lack of gameplay and terribly frustrating amounts of disk swapping.
Recently though, Cinemaware seem to be nearing their goal - Rocket Ranger not only looked great but had some good gameplay – so have they finally got there with ICFTD? Well, things do not get off to a good start. Unless you have a Meg of memory at your disposal then do not even bother thinking about it. And it is also supplied on three disks, so unless you are also blessed with a second drive you still have to endure frustrating amounts of disk swapping.

The theme of the game is a tribute to the awful-but-great ‘big bug’ B-movies like Them! Tarantula and Black Scorpion. You play the part of an American geologist who is working in the town of Lizard Breath, in the middle of an American desert, for the last month or so since a meteorite fell on the outskirts of the town.

Being an intelligent chap (and because you have read the game manual) you realise the meteorite has caused a colony of ants to mutate to gigantic proportions and you also realise that in about 15 days time they will probably wander into town and have a party, thus ending Lizard Breath as we know it. Unless you can persuade the mayor to call out the National Guard who can then use tanks and jets to go blast the queen ant and destroy her nest.

It came from the desert Soon after starting, you will realise the game is a cross between a graphic adventure and an arcade adventure: you spend most of the time in adventure mode, interacting with the characters in the game and trying to find clues that will pinpoint the whereabouts of the nest, and gather evidence to show to the mayor.

Interacting with characters involves selecting responses from a list when certain situations arise, for example: there is a knock on the door, which do yu choose – shout “Who’s there?”, ignore it, open the door or leave by the back door? Which you choose affects the way the whole game goes from there.

The arcade games include things like knife fights, flying an aeroplane and putting out fires, and though none of them are tough they add variety to the game. It is the outcome of these arcade games that determines whether you are injured and thus have to spend valuable time in hospital recuperating, or get closer to your goal (time really is tight – a minute game time is roughly equal to a second of real time – so there is even a Gauntlet-ish escape-from-hospital sub-game!). Will the gi-ants destroy Lizard Breath? Well, you are in the director’s chair.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Every location is well drawn and all the arcade games are well animated and excellent looking. The sound is also good, though the tunes do tend to get a little repetitive. It really is almost like being at the movies on a Saturday night.

LASTING INTEREST
Winning the game is going to take a while, but once you have it is doubtful you will play again. It is not a game that will keep you satisfied for months.

JUDGEMENT
This is the closest Cinemaware have come to producing their interactive movie. The whole feel and atmosphere of the subject material has been caught excellently and, unless you are playing with one drive, it moves along nicely. The arcade games are simple, but it is the adventuring side of things that really keeps you at it. Good stuff, but only if you have got the upgrades.

Andy Smith

Amiga Format, Issue 7, February 1990, p.47

GRAPHICS 9
SOUND 7
INTELLECT 3
ADDICTION 7
OVERALL 80%


It came from the desert logo

Vorhang auf, Film ab: Die Grafik-Gurus von „Cinemaware" haben ihr neuestes Movie Game vorgelegt. Aber das Amerikanische Monopol auf derlei Spiele ist gebrochen! Gleichzeitig haben unser französischen Nachbarn Ubi Soft nach zwei Jahren Produktionszeit endlich ihr Ritterepos (Iron Lord) fertiggestellt, das sich seinerseits anschickt, in die Fußstapfen des Klassikers „Defender of the Crown" zu treten.

Beide Games setzen mal wieder auf die bewährte Mischung aus Action, Adventure und Strategie, gewürzt mit einer kräftigen Megagrafik. Nur, dass die Amis sich diesmal voll auf Horror-Schinken im Stil der 50er Jahre stürzen, während man in Frankreich das mehr oder weniger glorreiche Mittelalter wieder aufleben lässt. Ein Vergleich drängt sich also förmlich auf…

It came from the desert Das Spiel beginnt mit einem sagenhaften Vorspann! Das Auge wandert über eine mehrwegig horizontal scrollende und prächtig animierte Wüstenlandschaft, während uns eine umwerfende Sprachausgabe über eine biblische Prophezeiung informiert, mit der das Unheil seinen Lauf nimmt. Tatsächlich: In der Nähe einer amerikanischen Kleinstadt namens Lizard Breath schlägt ein Meteor ein, was die unangenehme Folge hat, dass vormals friedliche Ameisen zu meterlangen Bestien mutieren! Wie gut, dass es einen heldenhaften Geologen (natürlich der Spieler) gibt, der das drohende Ende der Welt schon noch vereiteln wird.

Wie schon bei „Lords of the Rising Sun" werden sämtliche Aktionen auf einer großen Übersichtskarte geplant und koordiniert. Der Lageplan wird per Joystick gescrollt, die einzelnen Locations können auf Knopfdruck heimgesucht werden. Zu jedem Ort gibt es eine animierte Grafik, die verschiedenen Handlungsmöglichkeiten werden dann in einem Eingabefenster im Multiple-Choice-Verfahren ausgewählt. Dazwischen tauchen immer wieder herrliche Actionsequenzen auf, in denen es gilt, mit einem Revolver Riesenameisen zu erledigen, Crash-Rennen im James Dean-Stil zu bestreiten oder mit einem Flugzeug eine Platzrunde über das insektenverseuchte Gebiet zu drehen.

Amiga Joker Hit Damit die Strategie-Fans nicht zu kurz kommen, läuft das Geschehen in simulierten Tagesrythmen ab. Nicht nur, dass dieses Feature auch optisch gelungen umgesetzt wurde, nein, das Kino (wo gerade „Rocket Ranger" läuft…!) hat z.B. nur abends geöffnet, während nachts die meisten interessanten Gesprächspartner schlafen, und wer ins Krankenhaus muss, sollte mit einigen Tagen Karenzzeit rechnen!

Die Programmierer haben es diesmal großartig verstanden, die zahlreichen Action-Einlagen logisch mit der Handlung des Abenteuers zu verknüpfen. Die detailreichen Grafiken gehören mal wieder zum besten, was der Amiga zu bieten hat, wen stört es da, dass das Scrolling hin und wieder minimal ruckelt? Und die Musik? Von imposanten Horror-Hymnen bis zum Blues der wilden 50er ist alles vertreten! It Came From The Desert ist ein technisch perfektes audiovisuelles Erlebnis, das mit viel Witz und Einfallsreichtum Filme wie „Tarantula" oder „Formicula" auf die Schippe nimmt. Klare Empfehlung: Unbedingt besorgen! (M. Semino/C. Borgmeier/ml)

Amiga Joker, „It came from the Desert & Iron Lord"-double review, January 1990, p.p.?

Der Amiga Joker meint:
"Cinemawares neuestes Hollywoodepos ist ein Genuss in jeder Beziehung!"

Amiga Joker
It Came From The Desert
Grafik: 95%
Sound: 94%
Handhabung: 94%
Motivation: 93%

Gesamt: 94%
Für Anfänger
Preis: ca 89,- DM
Hersteller: Cinemaware
Genre: Gameworld
Landsberger Str. 135
München 2
Tel.: 0 89/5 02 24 63

Spezialität: Drei Disketten Umfang, in deren Genuss allerdings nur 1MB-Besitzer kommen. Endlich gibt's auch eine Save-Funktion!



It came from the desert logo  CU Superstar

Mirrorsoft/Cinemaware
Price: £29.95

E It came from the desert xpectations have been running high at the prospect of Cinemaware’s third release of the year. The quality of their sports simulations and interactive movies has largely been responsible for taking gaming forward into a new era, and establishing a benchmark by which other software houses and the public test their releases. At the heart of Cinemaware’s success is their belief that gaming should encourage players to plunge themselves into complete roles with the mood augmented by impressive sound and graphics. It Came From The Desert continues this approach by taking 50’s B movie science fiction and creating a complete melodrama in which the player is the main protagonist. It works instantly.

The plot of It Came From The Desert is a hybrid of ‘It Came From Outer Space’ and the bug movie ‘Them’. After a meteorite crashes in nearby mountains, the small town of Lizard Breath, California, is disturbed by bizarre events, disappearances and the appearance of huge killer ants - pugonomyrex rugosus to you. You play Doctor Greg Bradley, a geologist who rapidly becomes involved in a battle, first to persuade the authorities that the creatures exist, and then top stop them before they overrun the town.

It came from the desert The game begins at your ranch house in the centre of town, with the visit of an old prospector, Geez, who drops some rock samples from the area where the meteorite fell. From this point on you are on your own, and you will have to collect evidence of the insects, and formulate a plan of action by moving around the area, talking to the townspeople, looking for clues and most importantly staying out of trouble. Confrontations with ants or the wrong kind of people can result in injury and lost time. Since you only have fifteen days before the ants strike, you need all the time you can get. Like any human though, you will have to spend some of that time asleep.

You interact with the other characters and operate by selecting from a series of options which appear in boxes throughout the game. It is efficiently done, making the role playing/adventure side of the game painless and enjoyable. As usual Cinemaware have crammed every form of gaming in there. Strategy is ever present as you work your way through the game and battle the ants. Problem solving intermingles with elements from wargaming to adventuring.

Most importantly the arcade sections are there in force. They occur frequently and variously enough in the game to maintain their freshness. Confrontations with an ant usually result in mini shoot ‘em ups in which you have a frighteningly short time to blow off both antennae to stop it from getting you, but a bizarre and often tongue in cheek array of activities await you from firefighting to a knife fight with the local rednecks. You will have to navigate the plane for aerial reconnaissance and bombing runs, and even try and save time by escaping from hospital in a wheelchair in a hilarious Gauntlet pastiche.

It goes without saying that It Came From The Desert is extraordinarily polished. The sections all interlock fluently, whilst the graphics, as ever, are excellent. All the townsfolk you come into contact with appear as large animated stills, whilst the locations are authentically put together. The sound adds to this, with a suitably eerie tune for much of the time which changes as you visit other locations, for example to country rock at the bar and the radio station (KBUG), and hoe down violins at the various farmsteads dotted around the map.

I could tell you about there being over twenty locations, and how large amounts of the game play randomly, but you have probably got the picture by now - It Came From The Desert is Cinemaware’s most complete game yet. All this and you get to see decent Americans terrorised too!
Mike Pattenden

CU Amiga, January 1990, p.p.62-63

GRAPHICS
SOUND
PLAYABILITY
LASTABILITY
94%
92%
97%
95%
96%


It came from the desert logo  Zzap! Sizzler


Cinemaware/Mirrorsoft, Amiga £29.99 - 1 Megabyte only!!
It came from the desert Lizard Breath, California; a small town in the backwater of cultural development - and the current base of geologist, Dr Greg Bradly. He's cut short his vacation to study the remains of a large meteorite which crashed in the nearby mountains a week ago. Nothing much ever happens in this one-lizard town so the townfolk here are thrilled by it. But their excitement is soon to turn to horror… (cue dramatic music)
You see, the meteorite was extremely radioactive and affected the local wildlife in a literally massive way - the sleepy town of Lizard Breath is about to be attacked by giant ants!

In this tribute to 1950s B-movies you play the part of Greg, attempting to destroy the ants before they reach the town. Your first problem is that unsurprisingly no-one believes you - four pieces of solid evidence must be collected (a plastercast of a creature's tracks, a recording of creature sounds, creature fluids, and a creature part) to convince the mayor into calling out the national guard.

But to know where to look for evidence you'll first have to talk to people about some recent strange occurrences. You can phone people from your home and most other buildings, or alternatively, visit them at their place of work (although the may be out, usually at the pub!). Travelling is generally done by car. A scrolling map shows all the locations, and the estimated time of arrival for each - you can't afford to waste time as you have only 15 days to save the town.

Once a location is selected you are automatically transported there. That is, unless you run into the local gang - The Hellcats - who'll challenge you to an extremely dangerous game of 'chicken'. In an arcade sequence, your car speeds towards the Hellraisers', the loser being the car which chickens out and swerves off the road.

On arrival at the chosen location, you are greeted with a static picture and a text window showing your current thoughts. If anyone's there they'll usually talk to you, sometimes giving you useful information, but beware of hoaxes! One very helpful character is Professor Wells, a scientist at the local university who can analyse any evidence given to him. Other important characters include a female radio DJ, a newspaper reporter, and the police sergeant. However, some of these people are not so friendly and may even challenge you to a knife fight!

It came from the desert A visit to the airfield allows you to survey the town from overhead. The plane is equipped with a limited amount of chemical spray to use on any ants seen. Fuel is also limited and must be carefully watched so that you have enough to get back to the airfield - if not, you can try crash-landing in the desert or on a road. Flying is also necessary to get the recording of creature sounds.

For some of the required evidence you'll need first-hand contact with the ants - they usually hang out around the mineshafts or volcano craters. A massive ant crawls across the screen - you must aim your gun at it and hopefully destroy it before it attacks. However, if you kill it the view switches to an overhead one as you are chased by more angry ants! This time you can use grenades against them - kill enough ants and the rest will run away.

If at any time you get injured (by an ants, knife fight, plane crash etc) you'll be sent to the hospital. Any treatment here wastes valuable time, so the usual course of action is to try and escape! In an overhead-view sequence you must try to get to the ground floor and out of the front door. If they spot you the doctors and nurses will chase you and, if they catch you, stick a large hypodermic needle you know where. Luckily, you can hide under desks and in spare beds, and you can even find a wheelchair for extra speed!

Ultimately, to save the town you must find the opening to the nest and destroy the queen. If you haven't achieved this by Day 15, you will have to defend the town from an all-out attack. The mayor will call a general alert - he is finally convinced when one of the ants eats his car! - and will allow you to organise the defences: you can allocate townfolk, construction workers, soldiers, and police to any location under siege. You can then leave them to it, or go to help in another overhead arcade sequence - here you can enter and control any of the army tanks. Jet strikes can also be ordered from the general alert map.
If you successfully defend the town, you can have another crack at the ants' nest; otherwise it's 'THE END' of Lizard's Breath!

The game comes on three disks so an extra drive is recommended to cut down on the inevitable disk swapping. You also need 1Mb of memory to run the game: unfortunately Cinemaware are not planning a version for the unexpanded A500.

Zzap! Issue 58, February 1990, p.p.78-79

Phil King This is the best combination of adventure, strategy and arcade genres since the classic Rocket Ranger, also from Cinemaware. Some of the arcade sequences are great games in themselves - I particularly like the hospital scene where your run and hide from the chasing nurses and doctors: zipping around in the wheelchair is hilarious fun! The adventure itself is superb with a classic B-Movie storyline and typically slick Cinemaware presentation to heighten the atmosphere - the giant ants are so well animated, they're scary! With each new game the course of events is slightly different and therefore never predictable. Of course there's the inevitable disk access and shuffling, but it's not too intrusive and all pretty rapid.

Robin Hogg I enjoyed Rocket Ranger a lot: there was lots to do with some excellent sub-games to liven things up. This has been repeated in It, but while it is certainly an even more impressive game to look at, I feel it's lost some of the ease of play and fun that made Rocket Ranger such an enjoyable game to play. The 'whatdunnit' aspect of It makes it a lot more thought provoking but it lacks instant accessibility as a result. Well, that's my personal moan about it anyway.
This aside, It is a lavishly put-together package with quality throughout - the incredible start up sequence is a testament to that. Sonic effects and tunes are of the usual excellent Cinemaware standard; the samples are top quality and even the sub-games are great games in their own right. A lot of thought has obviously gone into the game structure and as such no two games follow the same path with random events cropping up frequently. You really do have to work to find the evidence, fight off the ants, AND convince the Lizard Breath citizens that the damn things exist! Great stuff although it's not quite in the Rocket Ranger league.

Stuart Wynne It has been hyped for so long now that first impressions are disappointing - there's quite a bit of moving about and the concept lacks the immediate drama of Rocket Ranger. But the more you play, the more interesting the game becomes. The small 'one-lizard' town becomes increasingly familiar, creating a good atmosphere and a real B-movie feel. The sound effects are probably best at this - the radio music sounds exactly like it's been filtered through a cheap radio and the spooky FX when ants are near is excellent, as well as being vitally important.
The structure of the game is adventure/strategy biased, with the finding of clues presenting a formidable task. On the other hand though, Cinemaware have cleverly put in plenty of exciting arcade sequences. The Hospital one in particular is technically unexciting, but great fun to play and hard enough to beat even an arcade wiz like Robin. All in all a great game, although not quite good enough to justify a RAM upgrade unless you also plan to get Dungeon Master.

PRESENTATION 90%
Easy-to-read manual, superb intro sequence, adequate save facility, disk access and shuffling not too bad.
GRAPHICS 88%
Detailed static screens, good arcade sequences with nice animation - especially of the large ants.
SOUND 94%
Excellent sampled intro, very atmospheric orchestral music, plus a number of other good tunes in various locations.
HOOKABILITY 90%
Very user-friendly selection system makes it easy to get into the game. Arcade sequences provide light relief from the main adventure.
LASTABILITY 91%
Stopping the ants is a fascinating challenge, and the course of events change every game.
OVERALL
90%
Yet another slick Cinemaware release - a pity it's only for 1Mb machines, though.