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Video Game / Dune (1992)

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In these times of the future, man has explored many worlds, traveling through space by the use of the Spice. Spice is the most precious substance, it can be found only on one planet in the whole universe. That planet is Arrakis, better known as Dune. It's a dry desolate planet with vast deserts. There's never a drop of rain on Dune.
Opening Cutscene

Dune is a video game released in 1992 by Cryo Interactive. It adapts the plot of the novel by Frank Herbert, and takes a few cues from David Lynch's 1984 film adaptation.

The game's genre is difficult to quantify, having elements of point-and-click adventure, RPG, real-time strategy, and resource management. It was very well received critically, and can still be played today on some emulator software websites. There was a CD edition released later, with improved graphics and some additional content.

Dune II, a pure Real-Time Strategy game, has absolutely nothing to do with this game beyond the Dune setting, despite being numbered as a sequel (it is only such because both shared the same publisher, and this game happened to come out a few months earlier).

This game provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: While the Atreides and Fremen characters in the book were thoroughly grey, and in the film fairly white, the game makes them all pure heroes.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Duncan Idaho, a master swordsman in the novel, is reduced to a stuffy, overweight bureaucrat who just can't seem to talk about anything other than spice mining.
  • Adapted Out: Many important characters from the novel are missing from the game, such as Dr. Yueh, Paul's younger sister Alia, and some Harkonnen characters such as Glossu Rabban and Piter de Vries. Princess Irulan's opening narration of the 1984 movie does appear in the CD version, but Irulan herself never appears in the actual game, and Paul marries Chani rather than Irulan in this version of the story.
  • As You Know: Taken to ridiculous extremes, on the off chance anyone actually playing the game is familiar with neither book nor the film. Duke Leto actually tells you he's your father in so many words, and Jessica introduces herself as your mother. The Duke actually says "As you know" when charging you with a specific task. And Duncan has to consistently remind you that spice is the most valuable substance in the universe, and can only be found on Dune.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Seemingly in the endgame. Once your Fremen troops conquer Arrakeen, the Harkonnen and Emperor Shaddam IV are deposed and Paul becomes the new Emperor. No specific reason for this is given, other than perhaps the Emperor not being able to keep his position once it's revealed he intended for the Harkonnen to wipe out the Atreides on Dune.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Ecology - while the motivation boost it provides to your Fremen is useful, relying on ecology troops is too clunky to be an effective path to the end game. Theoretically, it's great because it allows you to capture Harkonnen forts without fighting - as vegetation expands into a region, the spice will be destroyed, and the Harkonnens will abandon their fort. However, to do this, you need to train troops in ecology (meaning they aren't being trained in combat or spice mining) and, more importantly, you need water to plant the vegetation. Only a handful of sietches already have a wind trap for gathering water - most of the time, you need to build one and wait as the water slowly accumulates. Of course, you're open to Harkonnen counterattacks while you're doing this, and you still need to send spice shipments to the Emperor - which becomes harder as vegetation grows and destroys spice fields.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Any shades of gray that were present in the original novel are completely gone in the game. The Atreides and the Fremen are all pure noble heroes, and while the Harkonnens have always been evil, now they are cartoonishly evil, complete with maniacal cackling whenever they get a chance to speak.
  • Chickification: Chani. Oh gods, Chani. From rather kick-ass warrior woman to swooning love interest, who has two appreciable contributions to the plot: introducing you to her father, so you can begin growing plants on Dune, and curing some sick Fremen in a random sietch, only to be captured by the Harkonnen immediately after.
  • Continuity Nod: Several.
    • One of the first named Fremen you meet is Harah, who is "mourning her husband Jamis, who was killed in a fight with a young man." This is a Lighter and Softer version of what happens in the book, where Paul kills Jamis after first meeting Stilgar's troop in a ritual duel, and under Fremen law is then responsible for caring for his wife, Harah, and their children.
    • One of the hidden rooms you can find in the palace with Jessica is a garden, and she hangs out there for the rest of the game. In the book, Jessica was shown to an indoor garden in the palace, that quickly became her favorite room.
    • Spice smugglers make an appearance in villages.
    • The Harkonnens leave booby traps in the Atreides palace, just like in the novel.
    • The head belonging to the bull that killed Paul's grandfather can be seen in the Atreides palace. Its horns are still bloodied!
  • Damsel in Distress: Chani gets captured by Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen.
  • First Girl Wins: Inverted. The first female character you meet (who isn't your mother) is the Fremen Harah, who accompanies you for some time before getting sick of traveling and demands to be taken home. Then Stilgar takes you to meet Chani.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Paul, Jessica, and Feyd are clearly based on the likenesses of their actors in the David Lynch film, Kyle MacLachlan, Francesca Annis, and Sting respectively. The other characters in the game, not so much.
  • Keystone Army: If Chani is captured, the Fremen troops' motivation will rapidly drop all the way down to 10% until you rescue her. As you'd expect, unmotivated Fremen work slowly and fight poorly even if well-trained and armed.
  • Lighter and Softer: The harsher aspects of the Dune universe (especially Fremen culture) are toned down, and there are far less deaths among the major characters. Only Duke Leto dies.
  • Love at First Sight: Chani and Paul.
  • Love Confession: Chani, immediately after you meet her and take her into the desert at night. The two fall in love instantly and never look back.
  • Make-Out Point: Taking Chani into the desert at night results in this.
  • Mouth Flaps: Superbly synced, in a game that came out as early as 1992, thanks to the Hemouth lips synchronization system developed by Danièle and Rémi Herbulot (the former being the director and one of the main programmers of the game).
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Just about the only ones in the game. It's possible for Paul to die in a lot of ways, but most require the player to be Too Dumb to Live. If you go to a Harkonnen fortress, they kill you. If you drink the Water of Life before Jessica tells you you're ready, you die. If you take too long sending a spice shipment to the Emperor, he sends his Sardaukar to wipe you out. All the deaths are a time-lapse sprite render of Paul's corpse decaying in the desert. Contrary to popular belief, however, you cannot die by wandering in the desert, as you will always be rescued (but you will still have pointlessly wasted some time).
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Nuclear weapons are banned by the Great Convention in the Dune universe, but most noble houses nonetheless possess a stockpile of them. In-game, you can capture such weapons and use them against the Harkonnens. Although it has no in-game negative effects, the Fremen will nonetheless express shock upon being armed with them (see Oh, Crap! below).
  • Oh, Crap!: The reaction of your Fremen troops when you equip them with the "best" weapons in the game.
    Fremen: Oh my God!. . . Atomics. . . !?
  • Playable Epilogue: There's a trick to make the game last forever instead of just playing the ending. When you start the final attack, travel to the palace and order a massive attack. The Fremen will win and then convert the palace into a seitch as they do with the fortresses. The game will never end, the Emperor won't require any more spice, and you can play around to your heart's content.
  • Psychic Powers: Paul's mental powers grow as you progress in the game, allowing you to command Fremen without needing to be in the same seitch. Once you drink the Water of Life, you can communicate across the entire planet.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Possibly the fastest one in history. Stilgar guides you to a sietch where you meet Chani, and she asks you if you've seen the desert at night. Tell her to follow you, and she won't go too far. Walk out into the desert a screen or two, wait until evening (or not, if it's already night), and talk to Chani. Love Confession and Make-Out Point ensue. Yes, Paul and Chani become an (almost) inseparable couple potentially two minutes after they first meet.
  • Shipper on Deck: Stilgar for Paul and Chani. He first mentions how Chani gazes at Paul, and after their Relationship Upgrade, tells Paul that with Chani at his side, he will soon be a true Fremen leader. Stilgar did have an ulterior motive, of having Chani introduce Paul to her father, so Paul could help bring vegetation to Dune.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: Once you can start training Fremen troops into soldiers, you can arm them starting with the humble (and relatively common) Kris knives, to lasguns, weirding modules, and finally atomics.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: A lot of characters who die in the novel and movie survive. Liet Kynes, Thufir Hawat and Duncan Idaho all survive. Even the Harkonnens are imprisoned, rather than killed, at the end of the game.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • It's perfectly possible to lose ALL your Fremen troops if you send them against Harkonnen fortresses unprepared, though it takes time and effort.
    • It's also perfectly possible to tell Stilgar to remain in a place which you can only enter with him (the windtrap with Water of Life), and then leave. Since he is a Required Party Member at some points of the game, you can't win anymore.
    • Also, good luck giving your own orni to any Fremen troop early in the game (when you don't have psychic powers and can't call a worm) and sending them away from the sietch.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: If you're careless with your units and spice mining, losing is practically a guarantee. If you take the time to train up your combat units, mass your harvesting units, and systematically attack/harvest the world, you'll keep a comfortable barrier.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Spice. It's really the only resource to manage in the game (aside from, much later, water, and that has much less of an impact). The single resource to manage actually makes the game rather interesting, since you need to send the Emperor an ever-increasing quantity of spice every week or so, and also use spice to buy equipment from the smugglers to outfit your Fremen for more efficient spice mining and warfare. Each area of Dune also has a specific spice concentration, from very little to a whole heck of a lot, with richer areas yielding more spice when worked. But mining causes the concentration in the area to go down, until there's practically no spice left. Expert spice mining troops can still extract spice from such depleted areas, but only at a measly 1kg per hour. And planting vegetation in an area makes spice mining impossible there.