So, after last month’s review, some of you may be wondering “but, wait. If that was Dune II, what was the original Dune?” OK, so, out of the few people who actually did more than look at the pictures, it’s likely that no one actually thought that. However, I did, once upon a time! And, what I found was both shocking AND amazing.
But not because the game was good, and not because it was bad, either. No, Dune was shocking because it was largely unrelated to Dune II. In fact, it’s hard to say why Dune II was ever considered a sequel when you consider that the original was made by an entirely different company—and a French one, at that. The only thing that really connects the two is that they are both loosely based upon the novel of the same name.
The developers of Dune weren’t quite as creative as those of Dune II. The story of Dune is essentially an interactive retelling of the books, except with both massive plot holes and explanations missing at every turn. Not to mention that the gameplay was some sort of adventure game mixed with FTS elements. That stands for Fake Time Strategy, by the way. It’s about the best way to describe the game’s battle system, if you can call it that
I’m really not sure what the developers were going for. Dune looks like an adventure game, with the usual wander-around-and-click-on-stuff interface, but there’s very little to click on. Mostly there’s just people who stand around and say pointless things that you need to read in order to trigger the appearance of the next stupid person with dumb things to say. This is the largest portion of the game—trying to figure out exactly who you need to click on in order to get to the next part of the game, which usually includes trying to figure out who you need to click on after that.
So, if it’s not an adventure game, maybe it’s some kind of strategy game. After you click on enough people, you get to have troops who won’t listen to you. You can tell them to harvest some spice, but you can bet they won’t enjoy it. Click on some more people, though, and they’ll eventually lighten up and allow you to send them to their deaths in some sort of pseudo-battle. Basically, you tell them to attack, and you see their icon dancing around on the enemy base until they either die or win. There’s not much strategy to this, unless “sending more guys to dance on the enemy base will make me win” could be termed a strategy.
Oh, but I forgot to mention the best and most exciting part of the game. Now, you can’t really comprehend just what a blast this is until you’ve played the game yourself, but I’ll see if I can do it justice in words. Get this—your mom tells you to stand around in the desert.
That’s right. In case you get bored of the back-talking Fremen and having to wander around everywhere trying to click on people, you can just go out into the desert and stand around for a while! Mother’s orders, no less. She sounds like a bright woman.
As with everything else in Dune, if you do this for long enough, something special happens. In this case, your eyes turn blue and you get magical telepathy powers from being around the spice too much. At least you don’t have to walk around quite so much in order to talk to everybody. You still have to do that a lot, though.
So, there’s fake adventure, fake strategy, fake fighting and a lot of wandering around in the middle of nowhere and clicking on stuff. The game only gets better when you haven’t stood around in the desert for long enough and you end up dying when you try to drink some spice water that a sandworm died in or something. I’m really not making this stuff up. But, better than that is when you load your game back up to go stand around in the desert some more, and oh boy! This time, you stood around in the desert for too long and you dried up and died!
I wish I were joking about this game. Don’t even get me started on the ecology thing.
But, I think I’ve complained enough about how stupid Dune’s gameplay is. The rest of the game isn’t too much more amazing, though. It’s your usual “woah, they invented the MOUSE” point-and-click extravaganza. The music is a little difficult to listen to at times, as well; and, when it’s not difficult to listen to, it’s just nondescript and boring.
The only thing the game has going for it is its graphics. Essentially, the quality of the graphics used in the cutscenes of Dune II was used for the entire game. I suppose that this isn’t too uncommon for games in the adventure genre, but I would still have to say it’s just a notch above most of what was out around that time. Nothing particularly spectacular, and, considering that the game was literally released only a few months before its so-called sequel, it’s not like it was far ahead of its time. They at least put some effort and detail into it, though.
You know, I really have to wonder why Dune II even wanted to be considered a sequel to this game. I can only imagine that gamers of the time would have avoided Dune II if they had played the original. Although, gamers certainly were willing to put up with a lot more back then. You don’t have to look any farther than Final Fantasy for proof of that.
Either way, while I’ve suffered through this game more than once, it’s really only because the game is maybe three or four hours long if you know who to click on. It’s not a bad waste of time if you turn the sound off and glide through. Of course, if you’ve never played the game before and you happen to have a knife handy, stabbing yourself repeatedly in the stomach would likely be a more fun, and definitely more productive, option.