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Dune

aka: Dune: He Who Controls the Spice Controls the Universe
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Description official descriptions

Based on the legendary Frank Herbert novel of the same name and visually inspired by the 1984 David Lynch movie, Dune is a strategy-adventure hybrid where the player takes the role of young Paul Atreides, the son of Duke Leto. The Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV has given the Atreides House the rights to manage the extraction of the most precious substance in the entire universe - the Melange, commonly known as Spice in the desolate desert planet Arrakis (Dune), the only place in the universe capable of producing the substance. While everything indicates the offer is a trap orchestrated by their enemies the Harkonnen, the Atreides family agrees on moving, as he who controls the spice, controls the universe.

The player arrives in Arrakis with the mission of contacting and convincing the Fremen tribes residing in sietches (desert settlements) near the Atreides palace to harvest the spice. Harvesting is the most important part of the game, required to purchase equipment from the smugglers and appease the emperor. To speed up the process of harvesting, the player can equip the tribes with harvesters to increase production and ornis to protect them from the gigantic protectors of the planet: Shai-Hulud - the sandworms.

However, the spice doesn't last forever and new sietches must be prospected before having a mining crew assigned, but the player cannot run Southwards forever, as the Harkonnen enemy controls the North of the Planet, dangerously close to the Atreides Palace. Soon after the initial batches are sent to the Emperor, the player will have to actively deal with the Harkonnen, who will try to take control of player Sietches. For those, Fremen tribes can be assigned to military training with Gurney Halleck, but before doing such work Paul must have a certain reputation, gained by the control of Arrakis.

As the game advances, the player will untap Paul's latent powers, as well as meeting other characters from the Dune universe, such as Duke Leto, Jessica, Thufir Hawat, Duncan Idaho, Harah, Chani, Stilgar and Liet Kynes, the mastermind behind the ecological plans on Dune - the ultimate goal.

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Credits (DOS version)

43 People (38 developers, 5 thanks) · View all

Designed by
  • Cryo Interactive Entertainment
Directed by
Programming
Team Manager
Graphics
Adlib music uses HERAN system (c)
Music
Sound
Music available on CD edited by
  • Virgin Music
Producers
Original Design
Special Advisor
Cover Artwork
Sky Pallettes
Animations
Graphics Tools
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 78% (based on 39 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 152 ratings with 11 reviews)

Possibly the best media conversion to date, which also makes a challenging game.

The Good
What is so special about Dune is the length the developers took to make it an authentic rendition of the novel (or movie), and not another commercial rip-off.
The plot details were changed, so to keep it in the scope of the game, and also to keep the player interested in the game. Although the gameplay is basically stategy and management, it is still very much plot driven. The plot unfolds as the game progresses, adding new variables to consider when making decisions, changing your priorities and timetables. This is quite rare, as usually the plot is often discarded or just doesn't affect gameplay.

The graphics are truly incredible, featuring realistic desert scenes. You will also be treaded to breathtaking sunrises and sunsets as the time of the day changes.
The music is a memorable Arab and Mediterranean mix, ranging from mysterious and eerie worms track ("Worm Sign") to rhythmic ecological track ("Ecolove"). Dune's music is memorable and original, and sounds great on Adlib, but it truly shines in the Amiga version. If there was a music CD with Dune's music on it on sale, I'd buy it today.
The CD version adds much - some nice animations and a movie clip, and very good voice acting for the dialogues.

The game also features some nice stuff such as the Fremen interface (its not Arabic, by the way), a game book called The Book of Dune on which you can read some background information and the plot so far, written as a book.

**The Bad**
Dune is played in real time, meaning that when you travel from place to place, time passes fast. And when your not - time passes slowly as you wait for people to carry out their orders. This tends to make the game boring at times, as you wait for something to happen. In other times, you take a long flight and when you land you discover that too many things have happened, and now you will work hard to restore order.
Also, the game mechanics are sometimes obscure, as you try to figure out exactly why you lost this battle, or why does the emperor demand so much spice after you sent him double the amount just last week...


**The Bottom Line**
A very interesting and engaging game to those who haven't seen the movie or read the book, with a solid story, real characters and challenging gameplay. Those who did read the book (or saw the movie) - Dune represents a fresh angle to the story, and a challenging game on its own.

DOS · by Mickey Gabel (332) · 2000

An underrated classic.

The Good
Everything - starting with the gameplay itself. This game is genuinely good, with a good plot (though it diverts from the original Dune book) and excellent cutscenes.

The graphics are really, really good (including the 3D rendered flight scenes), the characters are well drawn and the sky palette changes are mind-boggling. The music is also awesome and changes according to the stage in the game you're in, the dialogues are well done and the lips synchronization in the CD version is unbelievably accurate.

The Bad
It's replayable, but there are no plot deviations, which make playing this game a second time much less enjoyable. The Ornithopter flight scenes when you're looking for a sietch are also rather annoying.

The Bottom Line
An incredibly enjoyable game you'll never forget.

DOS · by Tomer Gabel (4539) · 1999

Best Dune to date, and very impressive as a game

The Good
There are two things that come right to mind when talking about the game. First, the gorgeous graphics, which turn the otherwise sterile looks of Arrakis into a beautiful, dry planet, with a day-night cycle, populated by well designed characters and some impressive locations. The CD version earns, along clips directly from the 1984 movie and voice overs, new FMV travel screens which change seamlessly according to the terrain - rocks or sand - which is much better than the sprites in the floppy version. The second part, the music by the honorable Stéphane Picq is perhaps the best music ever put together for a videogame. Honestly. As mentioned before, the CD version includes voice-overs, and lip-synching is incredibly accurate. and it was one of the first games to feature them. Compare with some 3D titles released not so long ago, and it makes the whole process even more impressive.

Finally, a mention goes to the game mechanics. Balancing spice production (extraction and prospection), military advance (training and conquering territories from the Harkonnen) and ecology quickly becomes the main aspect of the game, with some adventuring section that lead to plot advancements.

The Bad
It isn't an adventure game, but it resembles one. It isn't a RTS, although you command troops. It isn't one RPG, but your character actually influences the game world and gains abilities. However, while trying to do all these things, it gets too light on all of them - which ends up being quite ironic, as most newcomers find the game to be too overwhelming. The game also lacks a bit of replay value, unless you've played first the floppy version and then the CD version to check the movie clips or voiceovers, or just to mess around with the effects of ecologics.

The variation between the book and movie plots, combined with some changes by the developing team can also be a let down for purists, but let's face it: no other game has come closer than this one.

The Bottom Line
For those who have not read it, Dune is a massive space-opera, and any attempt to capture the socio-political environment of the original novel usually falls short by limitations of the medium. However, the game presents some interesting twists: larger Fremen groups will only work after Paul's charisma (which changes according to successful attacks on the Harkonnen and ecology progression) and there's some animosity between Northern and Southern Fremen, and they cannot work side by side for long.

In brief, Dune is a fantastic experience for the book/movie fan, and a lot more faithful than the RTS series which other than the visual stuff have nothing to do with the original work. The mentioned shortcomings don't damage the value of the game at all, which results in a great gaming experience, including visuals, sound and gameplay. A must see, like the book or not.

DOS · by Luis Silva (13439) · 2006

[ View all 11 player reviews ]

Trivia

CD version

A CD version adds support for more sound cards, number of new rendered screens that can be seen in the introduction and some 3D animations available during ornithopter flight. There are also clips from the David Lynch's movie available in the Dune-O-Pedia book. All dialogues are fully spoken. There is also a new in-game option available from the main interface where the player can adjust sound, music and speech settings, make a selection of text language (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Fremen), choose type of music (classic or from CD in order or shuffle mode) and choose type of text presentation (in the bubbles or as subtitles).

Cover

The guy you see on the original release box covers, is Paul Atreides as played by Kyle MacLachlan, right out of the movie.

Demo

In the early nineties, there was a non-interactive demo of Dune circulating on Bulletin Board Systems. It showed a very similar sequence to what was the introduction to the final game (a number of animated characters' portraits over variety of backdrops.)

In this demo, the character of Paul looks very different from what he looks like in the game. He does not resemble Kyle MacLaughlan, and is quite a bit skinnier. It can be assumed that this demo was released before the final licensing terms were worked out with the movie's published.

Development

The game should not have existed: during the end of 1990, the project was officially abandoned by Virgin Games, who then hired Westwood to work on a Dune license-based strategy game... A few months later, Cryo, who had secretly continued working on it, succeeded in convincing Virgin to release it (although the game was then much simplified on Virgin's request). That's why Dune and Dune II have nothing in common.

The battle images were inspired by the worldly famous CNN pictures of the Gulf War (green skies with explosions...). Many Fremen pictures were inspired by real famous people like Kadhafi, Khomeyni, Salvador Dali, Salman Rushdie.

Very much more details about Dune's creation can be found in French journalist Daniel Ichbiah's book, La saga des jeux vidéos.

Limited edition

A limited edition box (UK only?) had a cover that opened down the middle to reveal a pop-up style sandworm head.

Localization

Spanish version by Polylang Ltd and Italian version by Graffiti.

Movie

First of all, there was a Dune novel written by Frank Herbert.

After the book, a movie showed up in 1984. Why is this so important!? Well, the game Dune mady by Cryo is based 100% upon the movie. The story, dialogues, weapons, terrain, friends and foes, characters, all are based upon the movie. If you ever saw a movie, you'll notice how most of characters resembles to the actors who played in a movie.

For example, you play Paul Atreides, and you character looks almost exactly like Kyle MacLachlan who played in Dune. As well as some other characters do.

Beside that, CD version of a game posses some movie cut-outs, only you can imagine a movie shown in 160x120 or 320x240 on a full screen, and covered with black net to speed the process.

However, Westwood's Dune II has nothing to do with either a novel or the movie, nor is it a sequel to this Dune. Instead, they took just a small resemblance as a battlefield and global story of rule and dominate across the sand barriers. They also added House of Ordos, and that is just one of the proves they crushed the balance over Dune.

Some, though hardly all, of the characters presented in the game are depicted (uncredited) as played by the actors who performed the same roles in David Lynch's 1984 film adaptation of the book. These include: Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica Atreides, Sting, Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, and, in some versions, Virginia Madsen as Irulan Corrino (in footage taken straight from the movie!)

Soundtrack

This game's soundtrack, composed by Stephane Picq and Philippe Ulrich, was released on audio CD by Virgin Records (catalog no. CDVE 911), also including some extra tracks that didn't feature in the game. The CD is called Dune: Spice Opera and the artist is listed as Exxos. Unfortunately, the audio CD went out of production in 1994, and is now almost impossible to find. It is highly sought after by many people.

Awards

  • Amiga Joker
    • Issue 02/1993 – Best Genre Mix of 1992 (Readers' Vote)

Information also contributed by hydra9, Lev Epshteyn, MAT, Mickey Gabel, Pseudo_Intellectual and Yeba

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tomer Gabel.

Amiga, SEGA CD added by MAT.

Additional contributors: MAT, formercontrib, Patrick Bregger, mailmanppa, Victor Vance.

Game added November 4th, 1999. Last modified August 14th, 2023.