Dune: The Battle for Arrakis is a translation of the PC
game Dune 2: The Building of a Dynasty. Yes, that's the
same game that pretty much created the real-time strategy (RTS)
genre as we know it (Herzog Zwei doesn't count, as it's
a RTS but vastly different gameplay.) Command and Conquer,
Warcraft, Starcraft, Dark Reign, Total Anahillation,
and many others own it to this game. But how does
the Genesis version compare to the original PC game,
especially for a game that was designed for a mouse?
Surprisingly well, exceeding the standards set by
the old 1992 version disk version.
The game just takes the basics of the Dune storyline
and runs with it. Three houses, the Atredies, Harkonnen
and Ordos compete for the harvesting of a valuable spice.
The Emperor declares an all-out war for whoever can harvest
the most spide. You pick one of the three houses to
play as, competing against the others.
In case anyone is unfamiliar with the gameplay, here's
how it goes. You have a very small base and a few
units to carry out your duties. You have to expand your
base and eventually build a refinery. From there, machines
known as Harvesters will look for nearby spice,
return to the refinery, and get your money. You then
use this money to expand your base, build more units,
and eventually overcome the enemy base in the area.
That's pretty much it...except for the first two missions
(in which you have to obtain a certain amount of spice
to proceed), the overall objective is simply to destroy
You first expand your base by putting down bricks to
prevent corrosion, then placing your building of choice
on top. You are a bit limited in where you can build
your base (only on rock, not on sand) but that's usually
not a big problem. First you need a windtrap to provide
power...the more you expand, the more windtraps you
need. From then, you can build the aforementioned refineries.
Each level introduces something new...as you get farther,
you can make Outposts (activates the radar in the
lower-right corner of the screen), Barracks and Vehicle
Factories (for making units), Repair Facilities (take a
guess), Starports (for buying units on the market),
Spice Silos (to store excess cash), and eventually
the Palace, that lets you use the house's special power.
Each house is a bit different...the maps change in
all of the campaigns, and there are differences in
the units. While it isn't huge at the beginning (the
Harkonnen don't believe in the small, speedy Trikes,
for instance, but can build Heavy Troopers), eventually
each house gets it's own really powerful unit to play
with. So there's plenty to see and do in Dune.
The gameplay is fairly simple. To move a unit, simply
click on it, and then click on the place where you
want it to move. Similarly, to attack, just click the
unit you want to do the attacking, then on the target.
Building is also fairly easy. Just move over to the
Construction Yard (the heart of your base), choose which
building you want to make, and it's taken care of. It
can then be placed when the construction is finished. If
you want to build multiple buildings (useful for making
many concrete bricks) simply press B. The same method
pretty much goes for training soldiers or manufacturing
vehicles. There's also a method for "quick scrolling"
the screen by holding down C.
Although most of the game is action, there's a sufficient
amount of strategy too. There's some resource management,
and also some battle tactics. For instance, the best
way to take out an enemy base is to make a bunch of
units, send them over to take out the defending enemy
baddies, all the while making new vehicles. Once all of
the defenders are gone, send in the newer troops to
help the old ones destroy the enemy's Construction Yard.
From there, they can't rebuild any of their structures,
so you can pretty much go on to destroy their vehicle
plants or whatever. You can even destroy the enemy
Harvesters, if you wish to stop their spice income.
I loved the PC Dune 2, and there are a fair amount of
changes. The interface as a whole has been improved
so you no longer have to issue commands with buttons.
All of the buildings and units are bigger, making
them quite a bit nicer. The music's entirely different,
but many of the speech samples were left out. The PC
version had three announcer voices depending on your
house, but this Genesis cart only has one (and he doesn't
talk as much.) Instead of save games in the middle of
a battle, you have to use passwords in-between missions.
You still can't group a bunch of units together (you
have to send each one in seperately).
There are other subtle things (construction doesn't
take nearly as long, for example) but on a whole, the
Genesis version comes out on top primarily for
the better interface and larger graphics.
There are a few problems though. The AI isn't quite intelligent all of
time, so sometimes your units will stand by blindly as three enemy tanks
are crushing one of your vehicles. Plus, in order to reach certain targets,
sometimes your vehicles will attempt to fire THROUGH a building in its
path. Needless to say, this doesn't work, and if you're not paying attention,
you could end up accidentally destroying one of your own buildings. Slowdown
can get pretty nasty as units accumlate on the screen...this game really
taxes that Genesis CPU.
The visuals are just fine...they're of a good size, so
you won't lose them. Most of the scenery is just
desert and rock, and while it gets a bit old after awhile,
it isn't really that bad. There are really only five
music tracks that play during the game, but they're
all excellent. I would've liked the old PC tunes mixed
in, but oh well. And the voices that were kept in sound
Overall, I'm happy to call Dune: The Battle for Arrakis
one of my favorite Genesis cartridges. It's really easy
to get sucked in the base building and the battles...
it's very involving and requires a bit of thinking, but
not ever to the point that it'll hurt your brain. A superb
action/strategy title overall!