Defender of the Crown was a troubled production. As the deadline was approaching and the initial development team fell more and more behind schedule, not only some features were removed from the baseline (which re-appeared in later ports), but also some essential changes were made to the basic game mechanics. One of them was the switch from real time to turn-based. Although Cinemaware later released a not dissimilar game (Lords of the Rising Sun) which did sport real time gameplay, they never re-visited their initial genre-defining classic in this respect. So somebody else did it instead. Enter Joan of Arc.
The first strategy game I seriously played and loved was Dune II: Battle for Arrakis. Before that, I was absolutely not interested in this genre. I never found it particularly exciting to virtually push some combat units around on a map. But Dune 2 nevertheless cast its spell on me and has not let go of many of us to this day. A whole bunch of successors poured over the audience in the years that followed. However, these clones soon lost the appeal of the new. Perhaps I would have found these fresh ideas in other – less well-known – representatives of the genre back then. In search of such pearls, I enter the famous hexa fields of The Perfect General II.
A beginning is a very delicate time. So, how to start? With some dunes, which shall be stabilised by planting grass on them? With megalomaniacal visions for a cinematic realisation of a highly sophisticated science fiction novel? At the source of a flood of real time strategy games, or one step further at the archetype, which got copied ad nauseam? All of this led, on more or less direct ways, to Dune 2000, a remake of its predecessor Dune II: Battle for Arrakis, with an updated interface, strongly inspired by Command & Conquer, and aesthetics that look like taken right out of Lynch‘s take on the space opera. A melange of many great examples, but does it live up to them? Does it dare to step out of its source’s shadows? Does it offer anything new? Or is it just an unoriginal rehash, simple cash cow cosmetics for a classic game? Let’s take a look!