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Video Game / It Came From The Desert

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"The desert. Unchanged for millions of years. Yet witness to a biblical prophecy come true that one day, the meek shall inherit the earth."
Opening narration

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:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Doc in the TurboGrafx edition. According to Buzz's parents.
  • Abusive Parents: Buzz's stepparents in the TurboGrafx edition aren't the nicest bunch — they start the game pushing him to drop out of school to work at the nuclear power plant, and when Buzz refuses out of concern that the site is highly run-down and unsafe, his stepmother threatens to have him beaten for his ungrateful attitude (though his stepfather would rather just get a beer; yelling was enough for him).
  • 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.
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  • 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 TurboGrafx-CD 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. 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.
  • Critical Existence Failure: The TurboGrafx version has one of the most ludicrous examples ever, where people being attacked by ants can lose several body parts, up to and including all of their vital organs, but will still be perfectly fine so long as you shoot the ants off of them before they're completely eaten.
  • 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 keeps the overhead action scene and replaces 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). Strangely, the main character looks significantly different between the two scenes where he appears.
  • Gorn: The TurboGrafx16 version has a recurring mini game involving shooting the ants to prevent them from completely eating their victim(s). As this goes on, said victim(s) are being torn apart 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 be completely fine in the following cutscene.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: You're 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 to the original game "Antheads, It 2", you had 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 run 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: Buzz can get 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.