Dune (PC / Sega CD) – Retro Game Reviews

Dune (PC / Sega CD) – Retro Game Reviews

Hi I’m Pam and I’m here to talk about
retro video games. Today I’m talking about a game based on
one of the best-selling and most famous science fiction books of all time – Dune. (could this
be the one?) Dune was developed by Cryo and published by
Virgin, releasing in 1992 on Amiga and DOS and 1993 on Sega CD. You play Paul Atreides.
The Emperor of the known universe has sent his family to the planet Arrakis, also known
as DUNE, home to all the space-travel enabling spice in the galaxy. Though maintaining spice production
seems like an important and prestigious assignment, it soon becomes clear the Emperor has thrown
the Atreides into the lion’s den, as their arch nemeses the Harkonnens also reside on
Arrakis and are not planning on giving it up.
When I started Dune I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – Frank Herbert’s book is
an especially dense one, full of warring noble households, shadowy political and religious
forces, mind-expanding substances, and a big dose of paternalistic colonialism. How does
one make a game out of this? I certainly wouldn’t want to see Paul Atreides side scrolling through
the desert performing weird martial arts on Harkonen troops. I wouldn’t want to ride
sandworms down the dunes like a snowboard. Or would I?
What Cryo did was combine two rather appropriate genres in order to tell the story of Paul
Atreides and his rise to power. It’s overall presentation takes the form of a graphic adventure.
You travel through the Arrakeen Palace, talk to the members of your household and explore
Dune, looking for troops of indigenous Fremen to befriend. It has a simple but effective
interface, allowing you to choose which direction you want to go, or select locations on a map
to travel to, as well as choose from simple conversation options. But it’s not long
before a strategy element gets layered on top. You have to find Fremen troops to work
for you, balance spice mining to appease the Emperor and buy new equipment, military training
so you can fight the Harkonnens and even ecology, to bring life back to the planet.
Dune hones in on a simplified core of the narrative – you won’t hear much about the
Bene Gesserit, Kwisatz Haderach or mentats – and chooses the right mechanics to bring
it to life. Dune is nicely broken up into acts. Not officially
– there are no title cards telling you when you’ve moved on to the next chapter- but
when key events happen things change. The story is propelled forward and some new gameplay
element is introduced, building upon what you’ve already learned.
To begin, you explore and get to know the other characters. Your father, the Duke, and
your mother, Lady Jessica, introduce themselves as if Paul has some kind of amnesia. Real
slick writing, there. Paul is told to go find Gurney Halleck, his combat instructor, who
is nearby meeting with one of the Fremen chiefs. Gurney agrees to travel with you and the Fremen
chief agrees to let his people work for you. This first act is all about exploring the
planet to find as many Fremen sietches as you can and convincing them to help you with
Spice mining. If you fail to supply the emperor with the increasing amounts he requests at
regular intervals, he’ll send his troops to the planet to kill you and it’ll be game
over. The next act has you getting to know more
of the Fremen, including their leader Stillgar, as they come to believe that Paul is their
messiah. Paul starts getting powers, he’s able to sense things and communicate with
his people telepathically over short distances. He’s also able to assign troops to train
as army units to fight the Harkonnens who are getting more aggressive and start attacking
your sietches. This is also where you meet the Fremen woman Chani, who declares her love
for you about 12 seconds after you first meet her.
Act three introduces you to the last element of the strategy game – ecology. Troops can
now be assigned to this, which destroys any spice in the area where it’s done which
means the Harkonnens will lose interest and wont attack there, but also means you don’t
get any spice for yourself. Then there’s one final event that sets off
the endgame. You need to make use of everything you’ve learned, all the people you’ve
met and all the equipment you’ve gathered to take over all the Harkonnen fortresses
and get them off Dune for good. What I most liked about Dune was how it seamlessly
integrated the different gameplay elements and how naturally they were introduced. (you
could say it helped the sleeper to awaken) No. Don’t say that.
One thing I never expected when starting the game was that you could have other characters
travel with you to help you out. Travelling with Stillgar would make the Fremen more likely
to trust you. Or your mother Jessica could use her own special powers to find hidden
rooms in the palace as you moved through it together. And it was always worth it to have
someone with you while you were travelling across Dune, as they could point out sietches
you probably wouldn’t have found otherwise. Travelling is a big part of the game. At the
start there are only a few markers on your map. As you talk to more people, who tell
you about the surrounding area, more will appear. You can choose to travel directly
to any point already discovered or just choose a direction and hope for the best. Watching
the dunes go by can be quite hypnotic but you’ll be travelling a lot, so soon the
ability to skip right to the destination is very appreciated. Especially on the Sega CD
version where travel takes much longer than on PC. In addition to sietches, there are
also a few smugglers villages to find where they’ll sell you equipment in exchange for
spice. It’s important to talk to each character. If I wasn’t quite sure what I should be
doing next, I could find out by talking to everyone. Someone would always point me in
the right direction. As for the strategy, since the first thing
you’re worried about is spice, it starts there. You will meet a prospecting team who
will need to prospect each area before it can be mined, so that’s one thing to keep
track of. You can also see on their map the density of spice in each place which will
decrease as you mine it. When a troop is engaged in mining (or anything else) they will level
up that particular skill over time. They can also be helped out with equipment. When troops
are engaged in army, giving them weapons will make them stronger, and leaving Gurney Halleck
with them will level their skills faster. You can also assign them to be spies, infiltrating
a nearby fortress to see how many troops they have and how well equipped they are.
By the end there’s a lot going on and managing all your units with the goal of eventually
overthrowing the Harkonnens, while never forgetting about the spice you need to deliver each week,
is quite engaging and challenging. Also, have I mentioned that this is all in
real time? Time passes with every move you make. The
planet’s total spice yield decreases with every minute you spend mining it – and even
more if you use ecology to terraform. So there is a hard time limit on the game, though a
fairly long one. My one real complaint with the strategy portion is that it lacks a decent
overview screen. There’s no quick, at a glance method of seeing all your units, where
they are and how many are assigned to each occupation. You have to examine each sietch
on the map to see what’s going on there. The screen that is included isn’t all that
helpful until the end of the game. It just shows the balance of power between you and
your enemy. The other thing is that combat isn’t the most exciting. You can send your
army troops to a Harkonnen fortress (or they can attack you) and combat plays out quite
slowly with little action to see. Dune looks and sounds great, no matter which
version of the game we’re talking about. The soundtrack is excellent and fitting. Tracks
can give a sense of excitement and exploration but also of loneliness as you fly over the
vast desert watching the sun rise and set over the dunes that drift by. CD versions
of the game include voice acting for every line – and while both the dialogue and the
voice acting can be a little stilted, it still helps bring everyone to life. Character portraits
are detailed and lovely. David Lynch’s 1984 movie adaptation is used as an inspiration
for some things. The likeness of Kyle McLaughlin, who played Paul, is used on the game cover
as well as in game. Feyd-Rautha, nephew of the Baron Harkonnen… he looks kind of Sting-y.
But Duncan Idaho looks like Kim J Un and Gurney Halleck, well he’s no Patrick Stewart.
As for the simplification of Dune’s story, I’m a little on the fence. While I do think
reducing it to its most basic is a reasonable approach for the game, it also removes all
nuance. The greater Dune series eventually expands to question and critique things like
colonialism and blindly following messianic leaders, but the first book does play out
a familiar trope. Privileged young white man comes to a planet that’s already inhabited
by people, who he somehow knows better than, is accepted as their military and religious
leader, and becomes their saviour. The game brings this trope to life. The movie Dune
also has nothing interesting to say about these themes, which could be part of the reason
that the game unquestionably supports this narrative.
Dune cuts away the complexities of the novel it’s based on and instead focuses on the
most simple concepts – the gathering of troops and resources, gaining of power, and ultimate
military campaign against the bad guys. While that takes away a lot of what’s interesting
about the source material, it still leaves us with a surprisingly coherent game that
blends genres in a wonderful way. The strategy and adventure elements work together in a
way that lets the narrative events and mechanics progress as one, keeping up the pace and at
the same time, keeping me interested. Dune is unlike anything I’ve played before and
I think you should give it a shot. If you want to see more graphic adventures,
check out my review of Snatcher, or another of my videos. I also have a Patreon if you
want to support my channel. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time.

100 thoughts on “Dune (PC / Sega CD) – Retro Game Reviews”

  1. One of my favourite games, played to the end on my Amiga 600 back in 1993. Was a little kid, didn’t know about the book and movie, still an awesome game.
    Love the Dune universe.

    First time seeing your channel, great review, thanks for the memory lane 😊🙏🏻

  2. I missed this during my Sega CD days, although it reminded me a bit of another strategy RPG from the system that I did play called "Dark Wizard". Pretty fun on the whole, but some of the secrets necessary to progress were too oblique. Love David Lynch movies (even Dune), and I always find it fun to see actor's likenesses rendered into older video games. Today's trivia: did you know that Kyle MacLachlan has his own winery?

  3. Pam-you must have played Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within at some point, would you consider doing a long play series like the one you did for Snatcher? Thanks for the great channel and prep you do for the analysis.

  4. i really enjoyed this! I feel like it's your best review I've seen. I can't remember if I ever touched this game, it looks a bit familiar, but if I did I didn't get far. I did play the hell out of Dune 2 though, probably my most played RTS, since I didn't really get into the later C&C games and such. Later I read the original novel and went on to read all 6 original Frank Herbet Dune novels (first 3 are great, the later 3 get cuhrazzzzy from what I remember). I remember checking out a revival screening of Lynch's Dune at an indie theatre on Bloor, and I thought it was pretty cool though obviously a very different take on the whole story. The Sci-Fi channel miniseries just felt kind of anemic, at least the Lynch adaptation was more bold and weird. I feel like Villeneuve will really need to create the work of a lifetime to make something of the new movies.

    Anyway, sorry for the ramble, but I had a period in my life when I was really into the Dune series, so I appreciate that you didn't just cover the game but looked at how it fits with the other Dune related stuff out there! Keep up the great work Pam!

  5. good review but I wish you didn't use pixel smoothing on it. It makes otherwise very nice pixel graphics look really weird.

  6. Fantastic review as per usual Pam. I can't express how much I love your content. You always cover games that need the attention. I'd love to hear you talk about the Journeyman Project Turbo some time. I love point and click games like this, surprisingly I've never played this one, despite my love of the novels and RTS games. I'll have to give it a shot soon! Thanks, and keep up the great work!

  7. OMG Pam Thank you for making this video Dune is my favorite series and i love everything about it, i recetly bought the game and wow never thought i would see your reveiw of it TTHHXXX 😀

  8. I hope this channel gets some traction. The reviews are good, the language is clean, the humour is just right and you're a legit gamer girl. Best of luck.

  9. What an excellent video about a fascinating game! It seems so complex and rough around the edges, which I suppose is something to expect out of a game on the Sega CD

  10. Very well written review. All I remember about Dune from my childhood is that I thought it was weird. And it scared me a little bit. I should revisit it though; it certainly seems interesting. Great work as always.

  11. I have been saying I want a modern Dune game with between 'Children of Dune' and 'God Emperor'
    Where you are a failed Bene Gesserit Quisat Sadarak.

  12. Oh this Dune game! You have exquisite taste in rich depth filled games. This Spice Opera soundtrack is amazing! I had the OST but didn't know where it came from for years, thought it was z stand alone Dune project.

  13. This is one of those games I always wanted to play on Sega CD but just still haven't gotten around to. I always thought it looked pretty sweet.

  14. I started playing this on the Amiga. I didn't get very far into it though. After a few hours of playing, my save disk got corrupted and I didn't have the ambition to start over from scratch.

  15. oh gosh, another fantastic review.
    thank you for doing this game.
    as others have mentioned, i see you have the dig on your shelf there, if you haven't already, i absolutely recommend playing it and doing a review of it. it's a game that touches on subjects that /very/ few games will ever try and talk about.
    it's absolutely the sort of thing where, as a younger player, you're roped in by the visuals and then, as a much older player, you see the depth and nuance in it's storytelling and are floored.
    i cannot recommend it enough [and i think you'd appreciate it's ideas and themes.]

  16. I read Dune twice when I was a young teen and I still have no idea what the plot is. I do remember that water was a big deal in that book.

  17. Well this is the first video I've seen from this channel and I got to say this was a great review and I'm hitting that subscribe button. So keep up the great work!

  18. I totally agree with you on the subject that the game isn't like the book. With writing, people should be fascinated and wanna learn more about the world, the characters, the relationships and strife. With games… Typically people don't wanna see that. I really love the beautiful flying over the dunes in the Sega CD version, it gives you a grand scale of the world. And I totally agree with the game is a nice blend that makes it stand out a bit better than the movie (Never read the book but damn, when my dad would turn that movie on I felt my soul leave my body). 🙂

    P. S. I saw the latest AVGN episode and cool to see you get some love in that. You're an awesome YouTuber that takes the time to see what people say. That's not me brown-nosing, if I hated your content I'd probably say so or at the least not watch it (I'm honest and respectful to say things to peoples' faces that way lol). Anyways, cheers to you, Pam! 🙂
    -Mad Wolf

  19. Ugg…. 1992. I feel old now.

    One of my favorite stories of all time… I am dreading and excited for the new movie in equal parts. It looks like it could be great, but kinda dreading the response of people who latch onto ideas in it and cry out against the various messages it has in it…

  20. Nice review. I never played this one. I remember seeing it on the shelf but I ended up going with things like Fate of Atlantis or the Legend of Kyrandia series.

  21. I clicked because I was thinking Dune 2. Cool vid and learned enough I don't regret missing this title. Nice themed makeup/outfit for this vid too.

  22. i played this on DOS back in the early to mid 90's and i absolutely loved it. i remember drawing out and labeling the world map on paper (that's how into it i was). anyways, was really engrossing at the time. i tried playing it again much much later on and the combat strategy aspect seemed more difficult than i had recalled.

  23. I had this for my mega cd when I was like 11 years old and had no clue what I was doing lol wish I still had it to give it another go

  24. Great review!! I never finished the final assault as a kid. You have to get Gurney n Thufir into the right places…
    Thanks CBT!

  25. Have you ever read the books? Between this game and Dune: The Battle for Arrakis got me reading them. There are my favorite book series!!

  26. the soundtrack for this game made for an awesome album; Dune:Spice Opera . the creator of the tracks encourages pirating them.

  27. Dune battle for arakis on the genesis is the best dune game. The soundtrack is phat. Wish it had multuplayer. This one looks cool tho

  28. "The Spice extended life.
    The Spice expands consciousness.
    The Spice is vital to space travel.
    Travel, without moving."

  29. 10:50 Why? Why did you have to bring race and meta politics into this? T_T God it infects everything, I really was enjoying your channel before this.

  30. Great review Pam . Dune is one of those movies I tried watching while back it was kind a late at night and I fell asleep , I still need to see it. The game sounds interesting and a lot more simplistic then the movie itself. I came to this video because you mentioned it on Twitter😏😁. Keep up the great work !

  31. One of my all time favorite games. I never tried planting trees right up next to the Harkonnen fortresses. Thanks for the tips!

  32. Love this video. Having just completed the whole series (and re-read the original novel), I particularly enjoyed the game's subtle references to the literary works, such as Harrah mentioning that her husband Jamis had just been killed in a duel with "some boy," hah. Though I'll be honest, I never really noticed the lack of the Bene Gesserit in the game (which I've only played in spurts across the years, in my defense). Duncan Idaho looking like a Centauri from Babylon 5 shook me though, haha. (Also, THANK YOU for pronouncing Chani's name "Ch-AHN-ee." I've been listening to part of the series on audiobook, and they always pronounce her name as "Ch-AY-nee," like Dick Cheney; it drives me slightly mad every single time….) Ahem, anyway, well done, well done.

  33. Good (and very serious made) review on one of the best videogames ever made. Music is classic (Stéphane Picq).
    You forgot only one thing that makes the difference : it is a french videogame (which is part of his unique way of conceiving).
    Cryo members had a strong sci-fi french comics culture and a big taste for excentricity. I would recommend that you read that article (and also the comments) : https://www.filfre.net/2018/11/controlling-the-spice-part-2-cryos-dune/
    Keep on the good work.

  34. 10:50 far left ideology is like a religion, it must be injected into all aspects of life for absolutely no reason (a video game review) much like the far right have to inject Jesus into everything for no reason as well. It’s interesting how similar both extremes are to each other. Aside from that, I liked the review and thought it was very well executed 👍

  35. Ok follow me, could be crazy, so 1992/93 release just after the Gulf War. Emperor named Shaddam (Saddam) Planet named Arakki (Iraqi) and 1:15 looks an awful lot like Baghdad. It's been a boring day my imagination is running.

  36. Kevin Turner gave me a copy of Dune cd on the mega cd when I worked at virgin games interactive in Ladbroke.
    Great game.

  37. Paul actually looked different in demo for the game, but was changed to more closely resemble his movie counterpart shortly before release. You can even still make out the old Paul design in some scenes. Feyd, weirdly, looked more like Sting in the demo.

  38. "In this game you will fight for control of a planet."
    "Eh, been there done that."
    "And you and your armies will be seemingly dressed by Jean Paul-Gaultier."
    "Mon dieu, sign me up!"

    I love this game dearly. Had both the Amiga non-speech version and the PC CD-Rom. In a way, it plays out like a future alternate history to the events in Dune, where there was no great betrayal planned by the Emperor and the Baron, and you could legitimately contest the planet. There are oddities, like poor old legendary warrior Duncan Idaho reduced to being space-accountant with a Centauri haircut, and yes the flying can get repetitive, but overall I loved how it gave me such a strong sense of Dune (big fan) but at the same time wove a different story so you never felt like you were simply checking boxes. I really got caught up in the atmosphere, the art design… and wow – THAT soundtrack.

    Great review, you got a subscriber! Always felt sorry for Paul being saddled with 'white privilege' accusations though. His coming of age test involves intense pain and probable death, his only friends are old men tring to teach him to kill or be a super-computer and somebody is trying to kill him almost every minute of his life. Add the death of most people he knows, terrifying visions, feelings of guilt over things he does in the FUTURE add up to a poor young git I wouldn't swap places with for a second. Also with Paul virtually adopted by the Fremen as a freakish super-human to lead them on a galactic jihad, the whole 'white saviour from a paternal empire' thing becomes something of a sardonic bleak joke too, which is part why I enjoy the book so much.

    And also because Guerney rocks. Thanks again – you're a pithy, fun, reviewer and I'm going to dig this game out again!

  39. Hi, just saw 2 reviews from you, and I definetely love your selection! Cryo was a small team of French programmers. They were big fans of Sci-fi books, comics and movies. They did Captain Blood in the 80’s and it was really something at this time. For Dune, they worked without the permission of Virgin games who was really pissed when they heard another company developped a game on Dune (westwood studios was supposed to make the game). But they did it finally and it’s really a piece of art! There is no other game with this strange and hypnotical atmosphere… like Frank herbert’s novels by the way.

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