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Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf

aka: Apache AHX: Desert Madman, Desert Strike, Desert Strike Advance, Desert Strike: Wangan Sakusen
Moby ID: 1461

Description official descriptions

The first game in the Strike series. A year after the Gulf War, a self-styled general named Kilbaba (Muababa in the GBA version) takes over an Arab Emirate and threatens to start World War III against his western enemy, the United States. The whole world holds its breath as the President has chosen you to destroy Kilbaba and his terrorist army before he launches a nuclear attack on the world!

You must fly a specially designed AH-64A Apache on a series of missions to rescue missing-in-action characters, destroy power plants, blow apart SCUD missiles, etc. to take out the enemy defense while trying to find out Kilbaba's plans.

The player controls the helicopter from an overhead, isometric perspective. The Apache is equipped with three weapon types: a machine gun and two types of missiles of different strength. During the missions, the player must beware anti-aircraft guns, missile launchers and tanks, outmaneuvering enemy fire or destroying the enemy weaponry. The Apache is destroyed if its fuel runs out, or if the armor (functioning as health) is completely depleted. However, armor can be replenished by bringing back MIA soldiers and prisoners of war back to the landing zone. There are also fuel, ammo and armor pickups available on the field.


  • デザートストライク 湾岸作戦 - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Genesis version)

62 People (55 developers, 7 thanks) · View all

Game Design
Additional Art
Sound and Music
Technical Director
Apache 3-D Model
Additional 3-D Models
Production Assistant
Script and Documentation
Product Manager
Package Design
Package Illustration
Product Testing
Product Mastering
Quality Assurance
Documentation Layout
Documentation Layout (Mise en page de la documentation [EU])
[ full credits ]



Average score: 83% (based on 72 ratings)


Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 170 ratings with 3 reviews)

A Genesis to SNES Standard

The Good
Desert Strike has always been one of my favorite all time games and just within the last 2 years I've been playing it on other platforms beyond the Genesis Realm, from which I came. The version for SNES in almost all ways the same as the Genesis. Graphics are a little bit improved to normal SNES standards, mostly on color, making it almost hard to see the difference if not looked at closely. The music has much been reworked. The controls are a little tough to get used to if you've played on Genesis. But you get it along the way. The cool cinemas like Hollywood inside are just as good as Genesis.

The Bad
What didn't seem to match up good was the music. Now I've always known Desert Strike for having such excellent music scores that gave you a blend of rock, patriotic, hip hop, techno, and orchestra all put together to create something so spectacular that Hollywood could never get any closer! Here on the SNES, it somewhat lost it. It's given a more simple drum beat that sounds only patriotic. The only music that meets the expectations of the Genesis are from the Cinemas. That's where it's more original. Some of the new music is a little better over a few times but not all. And another annoying item is the couple second wait to "load" up the map.

The Bottom Line
What you are looking at is a game from the Genesis that's in a way ported to the SNES with some minor and major changes. Don't get me wrong the gameplay is the same great gaming I love but if the music was still faithful, which has always provided a sense of power, attitude, I think Desert Strike for the SNES would have been a little bit more better.

SNES · by Robbb (99) · 2005

One of the Greatest games for Genesis

The Good
What don't I like about this game?! This is completely AWESOME! I enjoyed the music greatfully! The mixture of Heavy Metal, Punk, Grunge, and Battle music sets the attitude for this game in such an award winning way! The characters very much resemble the famous and infamous people of the Gulf War! The plot and story were very brilliant mixing in real life world events!

The Bad
"Saddam hussien's"(or The Madmans) beard. Saddam only had a mustache during this time.

The Bottom Line
The greatest shooter of all time. It's so compelling. The gameplay will have you feeling a challenge coming on! The thing they say in the credits about making it a big movie and actually joking about it, I'd say they should make the movie anyways! Universal Pictures please!

Genesis · by Robbb (99) · 2004

Not good, not really bad...

The Good
It is a good old classic game that should exist forever. With games like this the good old 16 bit generation will live forever.

The game is packed with much action and details. The thing where you fly nearly free around in an Apache is cool. But when you can see little people running on the screen and small cars driving on streets, the game is more interesting. And you're not only flying around, you must blast your way free with Hellfires, Hydras and your machinegun.

The Bad
I played this game in all versions. This game also exists on: Amiga, SNES, MegaDrive (Genesis), LYNX and I think on Jaguar too.

The BEST version is the AMIGA one.

I really like this game and compared them all. The Amiga version has the best sound and the most speech-effects. Also, the best thing, the explosions are really cool made. The entire screen is for a millisecond white and a strong explosion comes through your TV speakers. On other versions like the SNES or GBA, the explosions are lame and not so spectacular. Also the people don´t scream or speak too much.

The graphics themselves are not so different.

The Bottom Line
A great game. But not the best version! If you like this game, play the Amiga-version, it is great.

The GBA version is lame, when you look on the amiga, but playable. For every GBA user a must-have!

Game Boy Advance · by chromax (179) · 2004


1001 Video Games

Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


The design of the Apache in Desert Strike is not what it really is in real life. The tail rotor in back from the game is circular with the tail blades in cased like a circle, with the wing piece placed on top. The actual military design has the tail rotor looking more simple, with the tail blades attached freely, with the wing piece placed on the bottom.

Simply, the design is more different and it is likely due to legal reasons or game design.


The game was pulled from some shelves in the UK because of numerous references to the gulf war 1990.


Before being released, Desert Strike was previously going to be named Apache AHX: Desert Madman. The name-change was probably to connect the game more with Operation Desert Storm from the Gulf War, which the game is inspired by.


The name of the madman, Gen. Kibaba, is extremely funny. In the Swahili language, properly 'Ki-Swahili,' the word kibaba means a traditional measuring container of the type used for grain -- millet, for example. You can see this in the common saying "Haba na haba hijaza kibaba," which means "Little by little the grain measuring container fills up." This is equivalent to a piece of advice to take things slowly and be patient. In other words, the madman's name is approximately "Gen. Measuring Cup."


The allied pilots shot down will attempt to evade, but if the bad guys approach, the pilots will shoot back! You can watch, but you're supposed to be rescuing them...


George Bush, president of the US at the time Desert Strike was first released, along with his wife Barabra show up in the game ending sequence.


  • Amiga Joker
    • Issue 02/1994 – #2 Best Action Game in 1993 (Readers' Vote)

Information also contributed by 88 49, Richard Daives, Ricky Derocher and Robbb

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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Macintrash.

Game Boy Advance, SNES, Genesis added by Kartanym. SEGA Master System added by Robbb. Lynx, Game Gear added by Terok Nor. BlackBerry, Amiga added by MAT. Game Boy added by quizzley7.

Additional contributors: Kartanym, Kasey Chang, Sciere, Robbb, formercontrib, j.raido 【雷堂嬢太朗】, Patrick Bregger, Rik Hideto, Victor Vance, Jo ST, FatherJack.

Game added May 26th, 2000. Last modified September 13th, 2023.