It Came From The Desert / Level 9 (1991)


The Man With Half a Face's Verdict: Finally, a game for me! A game featuring other hideously heat-scarred folk! What? Fawking EGA!

My Verdict: This game is still fun to play nine years later. And unlike a certain other major graphical desert game of recent release there's no disappearing car trunk!


Game Information

Game Type: Custom

Author Info: Level 9. 'Nuff said.

Other Games By This Author: Knight Orc, Scapeghost

Download Link: NA


The Review...

Jesus Christ, it's hot. Colorado has been struck with a heat wave that is straight out of the back of the Bible. I'm not kidding around, even remotely. It's been like this for at least three weeks and I don't think I can keep up anymore. I grew up in a city off Lake Ontario one of the "Great" lakes. What was so great about 90% humidity in the summer, constant rain during the spring, fifty feet of accumulated snow in winter and a slushy, muddy autumn you may ask? Well, if you're used to it you get all weepy and sentimental when you found out that you moved to Satan's Mountain Bungalow. Hell, I went to college in a town where, quite literally, the sun absolutely refused to shine. (Actually, I think it did come out in Syracuse once while I was there -- I went outside and got mono. Cheers, Otto!)

I don't know what I'm going to do if this keeps up. It wasn't this bad last year, honestly. I signed a lease extension -- which, it should be noted, I have absolutely no qualms about sneaking out in the middle of the night on -- for a place that does not have central air. Or air conditioning. Or a large fan. Or installed physics that behaves even slightly inline with basic thermal transfer.

So in-between bouts of frying eggs on the hood of my car and a quick game of tetherball with Asmodeus,  I started playing It Came From The Desert again. It worked well with the awful hallucinations I've been having. At first the fire-demons who cloud the outskirts of my vision chortled deeply at this. "The fuck?" they queried. "You just bought Icewind Dale. The hell are you playing a game from 1991 for, you great, stupid bastard?"

"Nostalgia, I guess," I said. "Now get these red-hot coals out of my lap." (They did.)

I was originally introduced to the game by the Turbo Duo version. The Turbo totally got its ass kicked by the Genesis, a fact that my boy Jethro Q. Walrustitty is still bitter about even today, har har. So while the Turbo only had about a half dozen games worth playing, this version of It Came From The Desert was one of them.

It doesn't look so hot on the PC, you see.

See, the game uses EGA graphics and, as everyone knows, you have to do a fair amount of bit-twiddling in order to get anything approaching a normal human skin tone displayed on the screen (that is, if they are a complete fucking fatassed programmer jackass, that is). The white folk represented in It Came From The Desert have it even worse. They all look horribly, brutally scorched. I thought that perhaps the focus of the PC version of the game had changed from that of the Turbo -- as if the real story was in me trying to figure out what caused the sun to take up residence nine miles from the planet earth's surface in this port. But that's not the case.

The game itself is a testament to what was solid, early 90s game design. You essentially have to determine what is going wrong in a out-of-the way desert town. You do this by going to various locations (the Drive-In, the General Store, etc) -- the order of which is totally up to the player -- and by talking to the various town denizens, by using menu-style conversation. It works incredibly well and offers an entertaining amount of depth. The player has a level of freedom that, even today, most games can't come close to presenting. Discerning what the hell is going on is, without question, the Fun Bit. Some of the mini games don't work quite as well -- putting out a fire using an "extinguisher" controlled by the cursor keys? Ugh. Escaping the hospital by avoiding the orderlies like some updated version of Snooper Troops? More frustrating than effective. But luckily, there really is enough variety in the "mini-games" to keep things somewhat fresh over the long haul.

It Came From The Desert holds up pretty well in Windows 98 as well. It won't run in a DOS window, but the save and restore commands still work and the arcade sequences are not hopelessly sped up.

As the horrific Colorado heat, that I referenced earlier, has robbed me of anything remotely resembling a clever muse I will wrap this up by doing a character profile between this game and Level 9's seminal classic, Knight Orc.

Grindleguts vs ICFTD's PC: Grindleguts would rend him limb from limb like Wallace in the last fifteen minutes of Braveheart. It wouldn't be fucking pretty, sir! ADVANTAGE: Knight Orc

Kris the Ant Warrior vs The Nurse: The Nurse is much sexier, of course, but Kris the Ant Warrior would chop her into tiny pieces. ADVANTAGE: Knight Orc

Odin vs The Ants: On one hand we have the unchallenged ruler of Norse mythology. On the other a bunch of giant ants that still go "squooosh!" when you squish 'em. Or shoot them. (SPOILER ALE-- oh, right, sorry.) ADVANTAGE: Knight Orc

The Orc's Head Tavern vs The Drive In: See, it was called the Orc's Head Tavern because they used to use the skull of an orc to BOWL with. A tavern predicated on unfair racial hatred, plus decapitation. The Drive In just has more goddamn ants. ADVANTAGE: Knight Orc

Sex in Knight Orc vs Sex in It Came From The Desert: There is no sex worth having in the former. After attempting to bed every female in the latter, I'm convinced it's all some big tease! ADVANTAGE: push

Good God, it's fucking hot out.


Simple Rating: 7.1 / 10

Complicated Rating:

Story: 3.8 / 10

Writing: 3 / 10

Playability: 9.2 / 10

Puzzle Quality: 7.3 / 10

Graphics: 4 / 10


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