Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf

Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf
a game by Electronic Arts, Mike Posehn, and Visual Concepts
Genres: Action, Arcade Classics, Flying, Shooting Games, Simulation
Platforms: Sega GenesisGenesis, SNESSNES, Sega Master SystemSega Master System, GameGear, GameBoy
Editor Rating: 7.9/10, based on 15 reviews
User Rating: 7.0/10 - 8 votes
Rate this game:
See also: Helicopter Games

Fans of this Genesis classic are going to jump for joy when they see this faithful translation by Domark. Almost every detail has been retained in this shoot first, ask later war sim.

Chopper 'til You Drop 'er

In Desert Strike, you're a helicopter jockey with a full mission list, on assignment in the Gulf. You have to track down scurrilous Commanders, shoot enemy artillery, blow up command centers, and more. You also have to find and rescue MIAs and Secret Agents.

Powering you through these treacherous missions is an onboard supply of weapons, including Hydra missiles, Hellfire rockets, and a body-bustin' machine gun. Your ammo runs out, but there are Ammo crates and Fuel Drums for you to pick up.

Sand in Your Face

This translation to the small screen is a good one. The graphics, although sparse, are close to the original (the Genesis version didn't abound with scenery, either). Finding missile-shooting soldiers will be a little harder since the terrain flies by so fast, but they're still there.

The music is minimal, but the sound effects are crystal clear. Every shot and explosion will rock your Game Gear.

The only problem is the awkward control of the choppei and the missiles. You never know when your missiles connect, or when they fly off target.

Have Some Desert

Once you get the aiming and flying down, though, you'll love this game, especially if you're a fan of the other Genesis titles. Kudos to Domark for keeping the spirit and action of the original title intact. If you're a chopper jockey, you can't go wrong with Desert Strike. If not, the worst you could do here is crash and burn.


  • Not all the Fuel and Ammo supplies are listed on the map. Try blowing up certain installations to find hidden power ups.
  • You can creep up on a target without getting blown to pieces by the artillery surrounding it Go slow when you're near your mark.
  • After you blow up the second Command center, don't kill the little guy that's running around the debris. Instead, pick him up, and he'll give you the whereabouts of the Secret Agent.

Download Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • Game modes: Single game mode

Player controls:

  • Up, Down, Left, Right - Arrow keys
  • Start - Enter (Pause, Menu select, Skip intro, Inventory)
  • "A" Gamepad button - Ctrl (usually Jump or Change weapon)
  • "B" button - Space (Jump, Fire, Menu select)
  • "C" button - Left Shift (Item select)

Use the F12 key to toggle mouse capture / release when using the mouse as a controller.


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • Pentium II (or equivalent) 266MHz (500MHz recommended), RAM: 64MB (128MB recommended), DirectX v8.0a or later must be installed
Sega Master System

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

If you ever played with those little plastic army men, you'll enjoy Desert Strike by Electronic Arts. Unlike the few military strategy games available, this helicopter game requires more action than originally thought -- that is if you want to survive four hellacious missions.

You survey the terrain from above your chopper, and then maneuver in any direction. You launch Hellfire Missiles, release Hydra Missiles, and fire Chain Guns. You have limited ammunition, so keep hunting fa ammo crates. Your fuel supply is also scarce, but that's findable too. To aid your missions, your chopper has a detailed map that pinpoints approximate locations of enemy targets, fuel, ammo, and landing sites.

Don't Fire 'Til You See the Whites of Their Eyes

The screen in Desert Strike scrolls 360 degrees. However, you can only see a small portion of the landscape at a time. Luckily, enemies won't acknowledge your presence until you're almost on top of them, which works to your advantage. You can literally fly rings around them.


  • In Scenario 1, armor is hiding in the northern hangar of the north air base.
  • To destroy the heavily-armed military bases in Scenario 1, use hit-and-run tactics. Launch Hellfire Missiles at watchtowers and AAA's positioned around the perimeter of the base Then retreat, repair your copter, and return to finish the job.

Mission: Impossible

There are four scenarios in Desert Strike, and all of them are pretty difficult. You'll start by trying to find a lost intelligence agent, as you decimate the enemy's air capabilities. In Mission Two you must rescue political prisoners and P.O.W.s, plus locate and destroy S.C.U.D. missile launchers. In Mission Three, your job is to rescue U.N. inspectors then destroy some biological weapon plants. If you get that far, the locations of enemy ICBMs will appear on your mission map.

However, you've got to the sand. As you know, age of sand in the Middle East.

  • To save gas, travel north and south over the water. You don't use any gas when you are over water.
  • In Scenario 1 you need to capture the enemy commanders, not kill them! If you kill them, you'll get a slap on the wrist from your superiors and you'll be sent back to the beginning of the level.

Apocalypse How!

When I play this game, I end up humming "The Ride of the Valkyries". You know, the song playing while helicopters blast the Vietnam beaches in the movie "Apocalypse Now." This game will remind you of that famous scene... plenty of action and explosions. There's even enough military strategy to keep junior generals happy. Desert Strike may be capitalizing on an unfortunate event of this past year, but it's such a well-made video game that you probably won't mind.

Man, Desert Strike back in the day was one of those games that everyone had! Seriously, apart from the NES, I do not think there was a system or computer that missed out on this classic shooter. It spawned a whole bunch of sequels and it is a game that I feel most people who played it enjoyed. It may sound crazy to hear, but back during this era, EA was a real hit factory and people had a lot of love for them. The version we are looking at today is the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version.

Peace In The Middle East

For a 1992 game, Desert Strike actually has a fairly deep story. This game came out after the first Gulf War so it may have been a bit raw for some. There is a crazy terrorist in the Middle East threatening to start a massive war and destroy the world. You are part of a team that is going on a primitive strike to try and stop him. There is some text and even what you would call cut scenes that give you information about the mission and giving you context for the story as well.

The sound of the game can start to get on your nerves a little as it is very repetitive. However, I have found that this is the kind of game where you can kind of tune it out and get into a real Zen zone as you play.

Isometric War

I would not say that this is a great looking game, but it more than gets the job done. For a 16-bit game, EA did a great job of making the different vehicles look as realistic as possible. The different levels all do have a very similar look to them, but sometimes they take place at night and when this happens it can make things more exciting.

The gameplay in Desert Strike sees you being in control of a helicopter. You will have many missions that you need to complete. These range from blowing up bases to rescuing scientists. There is a nice variety to the missions and you can pick up fuel and more powerful weapons and this helps keep you on your toes. The enemies can be pretty ruthless so you have to take them down as quickly as possible.

Easing Into War

One thing that I find about this game and those that do not like it is that they do not like the way the helicopter controls. I will admit that it does take a while to get used to and picking up items that are on the ground can be a pain due to not knowing exactly where they are in relation to you. The bouncing of buildings is pretty comical, but I could do without the boing sound that follows it. I will admit that there is a learning curve here, but once you do get the hang of it, you will really start to have a lot of fun.

I would have to admit that Desert Strike is not my favorite game in the series, but it is still a fun time. It may be a bit rougher around the edges than the games that followed it as EA was still working things out. However, despite the flaws and the rather rough control that takes a while to get used to. This has always been a game that I have enjoyed playing and if you are willing to stick with it and learn how to play it properly, you are going to get a lot out of it too.


Final Score


  • It tells a cool military story
  • The game looks pretty decent for its age
  • It has some realistic-looking vehicles
  • It is pretty action packed
  • You have to think about what you are doing


  • It takes a while to get the controls down
  • Picking stuff up o the ground can be annoying

Return to the Gulf. This is your new assignment. Your mission: to rescue all of the MIAs, including a secret agent who carries some useful information, then destroy the enemy's vital areas.

You strike with a Blackhawke attack chopper that carries an arsenal of missiles and rotary guns. Use your radar to find the enemy and search out the locations of your men as well as useful fuel tanks and missile crates. At the Options Screen you can switch your weapon buttons in order make the chopper more controllable. Of course, you'll also be running into surprises along the way. The enemy has employed tanks, bazookas and mobile rocket launchers in your vicinity in an attempt to stop your mission from being completed. So give it your best shot and find your men!


Feeling the firepower as you blow up an entire command center and then go on for more.


It would be nice if you could get your armor replaced--especially after getting hit left and right.


Watching your enemies spin on their heels just before dying, after being shot.

In this scorcher based on the 16-bit hit, you climb aboard a chopper and set out across the desert to dear the sands of enemy troops. Blast bar racks, enemy vehicles, and aircraft while rescuing hostages, dropping supplies, and maybe earning a few medals in the process.

Try as they might, these gunship military games really need a big screen and a large platform. Unfortunately, Desert Strike just doesn't cut it on the small screen, despite pretty-good graphics. The effect just isn't there.

Return to the Gulf to take care of the enemy forces standing in the way of freedom. You must control the Super Apache attack chopper behind enemy lines, and use your weaponry to neutralize the tyrannical and nuclear threat. Relive Operation Desert Storm anywhere you want with this intense Game Gear cartridge.

Visually, this game is just like the Genesis version, with very little lost. All the missions are here. By using the password, you can continue where you left off at any time. If you like strategic war action, check out this game.

  • Theme: Action
  • Release: 1994

People say:


Desert Strike is a good game in itself. But when played on the small screen, it loses some of its effect. Your bullets are almost invisible, and telling exactly what the enemies are is pretty difficult. It controls well, and the animation of the helicopter is good. Another down side is the lack of on-screen colors. They were too dark for me. At least it is something new, and Atari is on the right track with this popular title.


I must say that I was really looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, my hopes were let down. Although the Lynx screen is large, everything was so small it's hard to tell what you're shooting at. Going in a dark room helps, though. The controls needed tightening-up as it was too easy to fight the chopper instead of maneuvering it. The missions had variety to them and that adds up to some good fun.


I just couldn't get into this game. I found the controls awkward and hard to get used to. The graphics were unimpressive and to top it off, your assault on the enemy is hindered because it was very difficult to see your shots. I will say that the helicopter animation is very smooth and the sound is OK if you can handle portable sound. The many missions are nice, prolonging its play value. Otherwise, this just isn't my thing.


This game is just too hard to see and play on the smaller screens. As a 16-Bit version there wastons of game play and strategy but it loses its impact on the small screen. However, the animation and graphics are good enough to get by. The best point is that there are lots of missions to keep you busy as a portable game. It will take some time to get used to the controls but fans of the helicopter game can get into it.

This game becomes tougher after a mission or two; therefore, some extra lives might come in handy. Thus, to add two lives to your current three, enter the following code on the password screen:


This will add two lives to the ones you already have for a total of five lives! Then, you can start the game, or put in your own level code to start on higher levels.

It's not over 'til it's over! Just when you thought peace reigned over the middle east, U.S. Forces are needed to return to the Gulf in another Desert Strike! Command a military attack chopper as you raid enemy fortifications, rescue your spies and destroy enemy supplies! Your main concerns are the anti-aircraft installments and your fuel supply. You may have to return to refuel many times before you finish a mission.

People say:


I really like the look of this new combat action game a lot. The overall perspective allows the cart to show off a new dimension of depth you don't find in similar carts. The action is a bit slow and never develops much intensity, but the storyline and sub-themes make this a top notch shooter/action title!


Desert Strike combines the thrill of rescuing hostages on missions that everybody can relate to. The missions aren't easy to complete but with practice they aren't impossible either. Good graphics set in a perspective that is not often seen in a video game. A bit too slow for me but still has a timely plot that keeps you going.


Desert Strike is an original idea for a shooter. The 3/4 perspective is cool but the game play is kind of choppy. I like to rescue the hostages and the different missions are good but there isn't anything to rave about. The graphics are good and the sounds are cool. An above average cart that breaks the shooter-mold.


It had to happen. Just when every started to forget about the war in the Gult, someone had to go ahead and capitalize on it. It is a great shooter with realistic game play and controls, sparkling graphics and crisp sounds. Had it been named Chopper Strike or something else, it would be cool. Let's not get cocky about war.

  • Action
  • One Player
  • Passwords

You fly a U.S. Army Apache helicopter gun-ship. A bearded, Middle Eastern "madman" has invaded a neighboring country. Your commander is rotund and wears camouflage fatigues. Fail, and you suffer the mother of all defeats. Succeed, and you get to low five the Prez. Get the picture?

You will, even if you had your head buried in the sand during Operation Desert Storm. Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf by Electronic Arts combines excellent graphics with slam bang SNES chopper action.

On Strike

EA must be on a mission to corner the 16-bit 'copter gunship market with this game, their Desert Strike Genesis game, and their LHX Attack Chopper. The graphics here are gorgeous. You pilot your aircraft with an outside-the-chopper, 3/4-overhead view that scrolls a mean 360 degrees. That smooth-scrolling look is key, because you use the game's terrific controls to wheel and deal your gunship through the enemy's desert fortifications to complete five lengthy Campaigns.

Desert Strike tosses some nice graphic details at you, too. The cinema sequences are great, and the animation is fine, right down to the teeny, tiny soldiers who scurry across the sand.

The sound effects (primarily weapon shots and booms) are good. Even the constantly whirring helicopter engine doesn't grate on your ears.

Campaign Strategy

The Campaigns are danger-filled and long. Each one consists of several missions that require tactical analysis, as well as a steely trigger finger. In addition to destroying military installations, you save a TV news crew, blast oil spigots that are polluting the sea, transport commandoes on secret missions, and more.

ProTip: Just for fun in Campaign 4, blow up oil tanks instead of protecting them. You'll get a royal butt-chewing and a nice lecture about your "friend" Mr. Oil.

Your helicopter is armed with Chain Guns, Radar-Guided Missiles, and Hydra Missiles. You have to attack, or dodge, robot missile launchers, tanks, and small soldiers armed with hand-held antiaircraft missile launchers. A Battle Map display provides you with critical area intelligence reports.

You can maneuver faster than tanks and robot guns can turn. Try to attack them from the rear.

Sand and Shooting

Desert Strike requires strategy and firepower. Your fuel, ammo, and armor strength are limited resources, which you must replenish by finding supply caches on the ground.

  • The Battle Map can put you right on top of vital supplies, even if they're hidden inside buildings.
  • Watch your armor ratings. Less than 200 is dangerous. Rescued P.O.Ws count for 100 armor points each.
  • Some buildings and tents hide fuel and ammo that don't register on the Battle Map.
  • You cease fuel consumption whenever you display the Map Screen.

To goose the challenge a little more, you can choose three helicopter flying characteristics: From the Cockpit, From Above, and With Momentum. With Momentum is the toughest and the most realistic. As the name implies, you can't stop on a dime.

Peace through Superior Firepower

Desert Strike flies. It's easy to play, but tough. If you're a hard-core heli-warrior with an itch for Special Ops war action lifted straight from yesterday's headlines, scratch here. Economic sanctions will never make a good video game, so take to the skies with Desert Strike. The action's hot!

Get set for some hellacious helicopter flying! With the copilot of your choice fly a solo mission into the heart of the Middle East. Your objective: eliminate a hostile dictator and his military operation. Sounds familiar. This game is a combo of arcade blasting action and war simulation and strategy.

Desert Strike – Return to the Gulf, or simply Desert Strike, is a well-known shoot 'em up video game developed and published by Electronic Arts (EA) in 1992 for Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. Later on the game was ported on other platforms, including Amiga's home computer.

The story of the game was inspired by the real Gulf War and follows the conflict between the United States and an insane Middle Eastern dictator. The player control an Apache helicopter in order to destroy the enemies' weapons and installations. The player has also to rescue hostages, capture enemies and manage fuel and ammunition supplies.

The lead designer, Mike Posehn, had no video development experience prior to Desert Strike, but did a very good job by using 3D modeling to generate vehicle sprites. Those were later on touched up on the pixel level.

The game follows the story of Kibaba, who controls an unnamed and fictional Gulf state, as a dictator. The United States are forced to send a helicopter to destroy Kibaba's army, and the helicopter is assigned to the playable character. A bit after the game release the press stated the unnamed country is Iraq, and the fictional dictator is Saddam Hussein.

The player pilots an AH-64 Apache helicopter. The game has lots of strategic elements, though it is mainly a shoot 'em up video game. The game happens in multi-directional scrolling levels from an isometric perspective. The player views the helicopter from outside, and not from the cockpit.

There are several missions in the game, based on destruction of enemy weapons and installations, but also including hostage rescue and enemy personnel capturing. The helicopter has machine guns, Hydra rockets and Hellfire missiles. However, if the player chooses to have very powerful weapons, he will not be able to carry on many in the helicopter. The player will have to choose the right weapon for each mission.

If the helicopter is hit and its armor reaches zero, the machine will be destroyed and the player will lose a life. It's the same with the limited amount of fuel the aircraft can have. However, the helicopter can refuel by picking up fuel barrels.

The video game was a fantastic commercial hit, topping the best seller charts for Electronic Arts at that time. Most of the critics offered favorable reviews, and some publications even offered ratings as 9 out of 10. The game was enjoyable, mixed action and strategy and offered great graphics and sound.

However, some were not happy with the release of the game happening right around the end of the Gulf War. The real-world War focused on the US sending aircrafts and helicopters to destroy enemy weapons, exactly like in the game. One magazine even reported veterans burning copies of the game. Nevertheless, Desert Strike was a hit on the market and a great game to play in 1992.

Created by Mike Posehn, John Patrick Manley, and Tony Barnes, this 1991 through 1997 series of releases by Electronic Arts had greatest success for the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis platforms. These multi-directional shooter games allow the player to take control of an Apache helicopter equipped with three ammunition types with limited fuel and defense capacity. Search for scattered parts throughout the map and you can more easily repair armor by capturing and delivering POWs or allied soldiers at a drop point. However, beware of your fuel and armor level, because if either reaches zero -– your helicopter crashes and you loose a life.

Desert Strike is the first game in the Strike series. In this game, a self-styled General takes over an Arab Emirate and threatens to start World War III with Western enemies -– the United States. Your job as the player is to stop the General and his terrorist army and prevent him from launching a nuclear attack on the world. Fly you AH-64A Apache through missions as you destroy power plants and perform rescue attempts. While searching for the enemy’s plans take out his defenses and blow apart missiles.

In the latest translation of Electronic Arts' Desert Strike, you are the pilot of an advanced assault chopper armed with the most sophisticated weapons systems ever devised. Participate in various incursions behind enemy lines while avoiding missies, surface-to-air fire and myriads of enemy choppers! The action is heavy in this military tour-de-force.

People say:


This is a very good helicoptor/action game. The many goals are all appealing and the presentation of the cart is also top notch. Some of the play mechanics are a j little jerky in areas, but for the most part this game delivers on all of its promises. Not incredibly intense, but satisfying nevertheless.


EA did a very good job in creating a realistic copter game. With true to life missions that take us back to thei war in the Gulf, this simulation is one of the best ever done in a cartridge game. While the weaknesses of the system Ishow through, once the play control is learned, the game is manageable.


This is a great port over from the Genesis. The graphics are much more detailed yet the animation is a bit slower. The sounds are a big improvement and the overall game play is very good. Desert Strike has a number of cool features and enough missions to keep shooter fans happy with a unique perspective.


Sayonara, Saddam! Desert Strike is the type of game you must buy if you are truly an American, or at least against dictators in general! This is a little repetitive and hard to control, but the ending is worth the tedious journey, believe me! Who knows, perhaps we can look forward to more EA titles of this genre.

Snapshots and Media

Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Screenshots

SNES/Super Nintendo/Super Famicom Screenshots

Sega Master System Screenshots

GameGear Screenshots

GameBoy Screenshots

See Also

Viewing games 1 to 3
Red Zone
Madman Ivan Retovitz rips off an arsenal of USSR nuclear weapons and threatens to transform the world into a radioactive desert. As the leader of three covert commandos, you must pilot the AH-648 Apache fighter chopper and traverse the underground bunkers to destroy the nuclear madman. Features full-rotating, fully textured background graphics. Real 3D - view enemies, ammo caches and other objects from all sides. A realtime zoomable map for finding targets. Fluid, easy character movement in six different directions.
Choplifter III
The gameplay revolves around piloting a rescue helicopter into hostile territory and rescuing hostages.
Air Cavalry
This fun filled, action packed, military combat game allows you take part in covert and diverse helicopter missions.