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!
"Gamification" of mystery stories dates back much further than computer games. For example, 90 years ago, established genre author Dennis Wheatley thought up what he called Crime Dossiers. Those essentially were binders full of clues towards solving a fictional criminal case. A description of the setting, then letters, pictures, evidence found at the scene of the crime etc. Studying all this material, the reader (or "player") was supposed to draw her own conclusions as to what exactly happened and who the culprit was before finally opening the sealed included solution to confirm.
In the year of 2453, the secret organisation SAROS (Search And Research Of Space) tasks an undercover agent to destroy the Arcadian supercomputer. Without this central "brain", the Arcadians will be helpless zombies who cannot exert their power over Earth and its space colonies anymore. In the disguise of an space trader, the player takes over the agent's role in order to liberate mankind from its oppressors.
This game is based on the role-playing book of the same name published in the year 1985, which was ported as an Adventure game to the C64 by the Englishman Stefan Ufnowski a year later, and shortly after was ported to all other home computers under the label U.S. Gold.