Desert Strike - Return to the Gulf FI

SNES A Day 88: Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf


Approximate Release Date: October 1, 1992
Genre: Shooter
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: Electronic Arts

More than anything, Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf needs a minimap.

Sure, you can press start and pull up a map screen at any point, but it’s difficult to get your bearings in a desert when you’re flying around in a helicopter while constantly flipping back-and-forth. I get why putting a usable minimap on the screen isn’t feasible for Desert Strike, though. The Super Nintendo’s low resolution means there’s a limit to how much information can be displayed for the player without seeming cluttered. But moving all information – including key statistics like fuel, ammo, and health – to the main menu screen is annoying. I don’t know how many times I went to fire a missile at a building and couldn’t or had the low armor warning flash mere moments before getting shot out of the sky.

I imagine the lack of a HUD was an attempt to make the game more immersive. I can’t speak to how effective that is, but Desert Strike is a nice looking and sounding game. The various vehicles look realistic and well-modeled, and when there are soldiers running around on the ground they’re easy to see.

Shooting them is less easy. Desert Strike‘s helicopter has three weapons: a machine gun, missiles, and … well, more missiles. Sometimes missiles correctly destroyed the target I had in mind. Other times they blew up in the ground right in front of me. A few times they went wildly off-screen to hopefully destroy something. I wasn’t able to figure out how the missile tracking worked. The machine gun is a little better, but I too often found myself inching forward and backward to hit things on the ground when other times it would lock on with no effort.

I know the Strike series is a fairly popular one, but I’m not feeling much love for Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf. As a matter of personal taste, I hardly ever like games with aggressive fuel and ammo management, and the questionable presentation and wonky shooting don’t help. Maybe the PC version is better?

Later Today: Will Home Alone 2: Lost in New York be better than the terrible film? Will it even be playable?

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