Dune (video game)

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This article is about the 1992 video game. For the 2001 video game, see Frank Herbert's Dune (video game).
European cover art of Dune for Mega-CD
Developer(s) Cryo Interactive
Publisher(s) Virgin Interactive
Platform(s) MS-DOS, Amiga, Mega-CD/Sega CD
Release date(s) 1992
Sega Mega-CD
Genre(s) Adventure / Strategy
Mode(s) Single-player

Dune is a 1992 video game, based upon Frank Herbert's science fiction novel of the same name. Developed by Cryo Interactive and published by Virgin Interactive, Dune blended adventure with economic and military strategy. Loosely following the story of the novel, the game casts the player as Paul Atreides, with the ultimate goal of driving the Harkonnen from Planet Dune, while managing spice extraction, military, and later, ecology through the native Fremen tribes. As the player progresses, his troops are equipped with weapons from "crysknives" to atomics, tap into Paul's latent psychic powers, and get acquainted with such characters from the book as Chani and Liet-Kynes. Released for the Amiga and IBM compatibles, it was one of the first floppy games to be converted to CD format, which included footage of the David Lynch movie, voice-acting for all speaking roles, and highly improved, 3D-rendered traveling and location screens. This version (a mix of the Amiga graphics and the extras of the PC-CD version) was also released on Sega's Sega CD console. The audio track, created by Stéphane Picq and Philip Ulrich, was released by Cryo (formerly Exxos) on the album Dune: Spice Opera.


The story is mostly based on the novel's story:

The player is Paul Atreides, son of Duke Leto Atreides and Lady Jessica. The House Atreides was given an unrefusable offer by the Emperor Shaddam IV - mine the spice from the desert planet Arrakis, occupied by their longtime arch-enemies: the House Harkonnen. Duke Leto accepts the offer not only because of the wealth provided by Spice trading, but also to defeat the Harkonnen.

The game, seen always through the eyes of Paul, is a mix between RTS and adventure gaming. While the basis of the game is the strategy component, dialog between characters and a linear plotline give the game more depth than most strategy games. The player is also required to do some miniquests involving talking to characters and traveling to locations, which adds a small adventure game element.

There must be a balance between military and spice mining power. While having a strong military force will provide fast response to the Harkonnen, if Spice isn't mined fast enough to keep up with the Emperor's demands, the game will be lost. However, if there is too much focus on spice mining, Harkonnen troops can ambush a sietch, capturing all troops inside. They can only be rescued if the sietch is liberated. Since the game is as much resource managing as military conquest, balancing both is the key for successful completion.


PC screenshot (floppy version)

The Atreides House has no military or spice mining units. Soon in the game, Paul must meet the closest Fremen leaders and convince them to work for him. In the beginning, they will only agree to work as spice miners. After Paul is introduced to Stilgar, the tribes will agree to work as either spice miners or military soldiers as Paul chooses. After he is introduced to Liet Kynes, the tribes can also take ecology as their occupation.

All tribes will increase their ability in their chosen occupation. Spice prospectors do so by spice prospecting in many sietches. Spice miners do so by mining spice. Military troops do so by training in their sietches (if Gurney Halleck is in the same sietch they increase their ability at a faster rate) or successfully completing military missions.

All tribes except the spice prospector tribe can change their occupations, although it is better to keep a tribe in the same occupation. Experienced spice prospectors can prospect spice faster. Experienced spice miners can mine more spice. Experienced military troops are more effective in military missions. However, there may be situations where changing a tribe's occupation is required. For example, if a large number of military troops training in a sietch is captured by Harkonnen forces, more military troops need to be raised from the spice or ecology troops to liberate the sietch and rescue the captured troops.

Although the Fremen agree to work for the Atreides in order to depose the Harkonnen, if there are tribes from both hemispheres in the same sietch, they will quarrel and refuse to work (this seems to happen frequently with the spice miners). Morale (affected by contacts with Paul, Atreides advancement in Arrakis, the progress of ecologists, and whether Chani is captured or free) also affects the speed and capabilities of the tribes.

The Ornithopter (Orni) is the default transport method for Paul until he's able to ride sandworms. With the Fremen, they are used for either moving from one sietch to another quickly or as an early warning against sandworms attacking spice miners and prevent Harvesters from being swallowed. Harvesters increase spice mining speed, and can be either bought from smugglers or found in sietches. Weaponry ranges from crysknives, laser guns, Weirding Modules and the powerful atomics, and are usually found on sietches or conquered Harkonnen fortresses.

Mining and economics[edit]

Each sietch/fortress area contains a quantity of spice. The large desert on the southern sietches provide the largest Spice reserves, but all new areas need to be probed by the prospection team. After the amount of spice is calculated, spice prospectors can move on to another sietch. However, in the game, Spice is not renewable. After all the reserves are mined, the area is barren, and can only be used for ecologics and military. Spice (not the Solari) is the currency in the game, and serves two purposes: paying the Emperor to continue in Dune and purchase equipment from the smugglers. Duncan Idaho is the character in charge of the economics, and will call Paul's attention when there's a payment to be done, either to the emperor or smugglers.


Fremen specialised in military are the only troops capable of conquering a fortress or defending a sietch. They can also perform espionage on Harkonnen fortresses, reporting on the number of enemy troops and their type of armament. Fremen military troops can be ordered to attack the fortresses. A successful mission depends highly on morale, skill and armament, so early in the game espionage is much harder to achieve without the troops being captured by the Harkonnens.

Paul's presence during a battle increases the men's morale. He can boost their morale even more if he comes along on a worm. Once there, he can boost their morale even further more by controlling the battle personally (but then risks dying if the battle is lost). There are two ways for Paul to control the battle personally.


As soon as Paul meets Liet-Kynes and drinks the Water of Life, Arrakis can be terraformed by having Fremen troops specialise in ecology. Since it only happens late in the game, the northern sietches are usually barren (but any spice remaining will disappear), and by moving ecology troops there, they can assemble a windtrap, and provided they are equipped with bulbs, vegetation will always grow to the north.

Vegetation raises the morale of Fremen. In addition, planting the vegetation south to the Harkonnen controlled areas, so it will grow north and reaches them, will lower their spice production. Moreover, if enough vegetation grows north into Harkonnen fortresses, they will abandon them. A military unit must still be sent then to take over such fortresses, but there will be no one to fight with.

Nevertheless, it is generally agreed amongst players that ecology is of a lower priority than both spice mining and military, hence most players tend to deploy lesser amount of troops to ecology. However, by having enough vegetation growing north into the Harkonnen Palace, ecology is actually one of the ways to reach the end game.

Paul's abilities[edit]

At the start, Paul is given the task of meeting the Fremen. As the game progresses, he learns the ways of telepathy (progressively, from short range to planet wide) and using sandworms as transport. His charisma also influences his ability to gather Fremen under the Atreides' flag, as some chiefs will not work for Paul or do military assignments if his charisma isn't high enough. His progress can be partially seen in the mirror at the Atreides' Palace - his eyes turn more "blue on blue" (Eyes of Ibad) as his abilities increase.


Gurney and a Fremen inside a sietch (Sega Mega-CD)

The game loosely follows the book and the 1984 movie by David Lynch (Paul Atreides was designed to look like Kyle MacLachlan, who is actually credited as Paul Atreides). Only a few characters are removed from the movie, clearly the biggest visual inspiration for the game, such as Shadout Mapes, Piter De Vries, Reverend Mother Ramallo and Glossu Rabban. Some characters' roles have changed, however, such as Harah who follows Paul about in the earlier stages of the game.

Game technology[edit]

The game was one of the first floppy disk games to be ported to the new CD format. The Sega Mega-CD version had graphics close to the Amiga version's, but offered the extras of the DOS CD-ROM version. Those extras are snippets from Lynch's film, voiceovers and new travelling screens. Mega placed the game at #10 in their Top Mega CD Games of All Time,[1]


Sound track

Dune: Spice Opera was released by Virgin Records in 1992. The tracks were composed by Stéphane Picq and Philippe Ulrich. Virgin Records was later sold to EMI, which then became the new holders of the copyright. Picq wishes to have the rights in order to rerelease the album, though they were not granted.[2]


Computer Gaming World stated that the developer "had succeeded in distilling the book's complex plot into a game that involves the player in the outcome". It praised the graphics and animation, and concluded that the game was "a light and interesting challenge" easy enough for most players to finish.[3] QuestBusters stated "I really enjoyed this game, a high quality product with many surprisingly entertaining aspects." Because of the strategic aspects it recommended the game to those who enjoyed both strategy games and graphic adventures.[4]Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Sega CD version an 8 out of 10, describing it as "involving", and praising the digitized graphics and flight sequences.[5]

Later games[edit]

In 1992 software company Westwood Studios produced a rival Dune game also for Virgin Interactive, Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty. Westwood later produced two sequels, Dune 2000 in 1998 and Emperor: Battle for Dune in 2001. Cryo returned to the Dune universe in 2001 with Frank Herbert's Dune, the financial failure of which bankrupted Cryo Interactive, causing the nearly finished Dune Generations to never be released.


  1. ^ Mega magazine issue 26, page 74, Maverick Magazines, November 1994
  2. ^ Stéphane Picq website ~ News
  3. ^ Eden, Maxwell (September 1992). "Virgin Games Adds Spice To Computer Gaming". Computer Gaming World. pp. 54, 56. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Giovetti, Alfred and Amanda (September 1992). "Dune". QuestBusters. pp. 4–5. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Review Crew: Dune CD". Electronic Gaming Monthly (56) (EGM Media, LLC). March 1994. p. 42. 

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