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Video Game / It Came From The Desert

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It Came From The Desert is an 1989 Amiga game by Cinemaware about a young man discovering the existence of giant ants hell bent on taking over the world. With help from a scientist and some friends, he will need to collect evidence within a time limit to convince the mayor to take action. Gameplay segments include interacting with NPCs, knife fighting with a gang member, shooting an Ant's antenna before getting attacked, fending off said ants, and eventually infiltrating the ants base and blowing up the queen.

While mainly an Amiga game, with a follow up made for the system, it was also released for the IBM Personal Computer. Two remakes were completely different: a Turbo Grafx CD version that relied heavily on Full Motion Video and had little to do with the original game (Retsupurae riffed on it), and a Sega Genesis version that was an over-head shooter and was canceled by Electronic Arts when almost finished.

In 2017, a low-budget film was made, changing much of the story. It does play snippets of the original Amiga game during the end credits.


It Came from the Desert includes examples of:

  • Abandonware: The Sega Genesis game, which was never finished.
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Doc in the TurboGrafx edition. According to Buzz's parents.
  • Alien Invasion: The ants plan on doing this.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Make a wild guess.
  • Baleful Polymorph: In the sequel, the ants can corrupt fellow humans, and the only way to find them out is if they are in a good position to attack you, or you shoot a pez at them.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The ants, with some as big as a Buick.
  • B-Movie: The original game is basically a big love letter to these kinds of movies, especially the giant-ant movie Them!.
  • Clear My Name: The sequel has the main character on the run from being accused of starting the incident. Turns out the Antheads are spreading this to quietly resume their invasion.
    • The TurboGrafxCD version has Buzz accused of stealing radioactive waste, which allegedly mutated the ants to begin with. This isn't brought up very often though and it ends up getting sidelined later on. And as Buzz says when questioned about it by the local radio news man, there really was no plausible way for a high school student to haul away several tons of nuclear waste on a motorcycle, even if you ignore the basic fact that the material was, as explicitly stated, dangerously radioactive.
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  • Driven to Suicide: In the TurboGrafx-16 version, the sheriff shoots himself in the head... or not? It's hard to tell because there are no muzzle flashes made, AND he just sits back up after that. It turns out the real sheriff is actually about to be eaten alive.
  • Gameplay Roulette: A static first person shooting sequence, an overhead action scene, a flying overhead action scene, a knife fight, a car ramming scene, an escape scene, and an invasion scene, with their own rules of game play and controls.
    • The TurboGrafxCD version kept the overhead action scene and replaced the rest with a 2D shooter and a hostage rescue shooting scene (where you have to shoot the ants off of the person they're eating off of). Strangely, the character looks significantly different between the two scenes where he's appeared.
  • Gorn: The TurboGrafx16 version has a recurring mini game involving shooting the ants to prevent them from completely eating out their victim(s). As this goes on, said victim(s) are being torn flesh by flesh until they're reduced to bone. However, if you complete the mini game, as long as they have even one bar of life left, they will appear in a cut scene, shown to be completely fine.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: You are on a time limit to get the military to respond to the threat, and take care of the Ant Queen.
  • Large Ham: Everyone in the TurboGrafx-16 version.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: At the time, to get the sequel (Antheads, It 2) to the original game required you to contact the publisher and purchase it from them directly. The story continues off right after the first game.
  • Ms Fan Service: The busty candy-striper who is obviously flirting with Dr. Bradley when he's recovering in the hospital. But he must escape: there is work to do!
  • Mundane Made Awesome: In Antheads, you have the option to pez any human you suspect to be an anthead. The option? PEZ HIM/HER
  • NPC Scheduling: One of the first games to feature this. Learning where everyone is going to be at what times is crucial to conducting your investigation.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In the TurboGrafxCD version, zombies are inexplicably thrown in. The only possible justification is that they're actually people possessed by the Ant Queen.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: The player has to escape from a hospital to save two days from being wasted.
    • Even more justified in the sequel, Antheads, where it's ran by antheads!
  • Point-and-Click Game
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Mayor won't easily accept the existence of giant ants trying to take over the world, but he is always willing to hear you out regardless, even saying that he is a reasonable man. By the time you do collect all pieces of evidence, he immediately accepts it and calls in the military.
  • Shout-Out: Perhaps unintentional, but in the TurboGrafx-16 version, whenever Buzz calls out the followers of the ant queen, they scream out in a similar manner to those of the body snatchers.
  • Stock Footage: All over the place.
  • Unexplained Recovery: In the TurboGrafx-16 longplay that the Retsupurae duo riffed on, Buzz gets munched on in two of the three side-scrolling segments to seemingly no consequence.
  • Video Game Remake: The Sega Genesis version was made into an overhead arcade shooter, but it was never finished.
    • A more infamous example is the TurboGrafx-16. Almost all the different mini games have been removed, the characters had been redesigned (especially the main character), and the new mini games are not very good.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Man O Steel"?: Or Koolman for that matter.


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