It Came From The Desert

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a game by Electronic Arts, and Cinemaware
Genres: Arcade Classics, Shooting Games
Platforms: PC Engine (1992), DOS, Sega GenesisGenesis
Editor Rating: 6.2/10, based on 6 reviews, 7 reviews are shown
User Rating: 7.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Action Adventure Games, Action Games, Horror Games
It Came From The Desert
It Came From The Desert
It Came From The Desert
It Came From The Desert
  • Theme: Adventure
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Available: February 1992

...and the meek shall inherit the earth...

After years of waiting, the long-awaited CD smasher has finally arrived! Based off of the classic grade-B giant bug films like Them and the hit PC game It Came From The Desert, Cinemaware's last title is now in NEC's hands and they are using their CD-ROM power to the max! Though it has some ties with the Amiga version, this one is different - with a more involved plot, a larger cast of characters, and more places to go, not to mention live voice and perfect animation! You are cast as a young, 18 year old boy who is just trying to make it in a small rural town that was used for nuclear testing. Now the radiation has caused a genetic mutation, creating colossal ants that threaten humanity!

Check out the Power Station, Lud's ammo Annex, the observatory, Drive-in, the disposal plant, and channel 14.

In the abandoned town of Borax, you will find Clay, Marina,and Man O'Steel. This is where you can find most of the useful characters. Look on tne outskirts or the town for some major focusing points of the game.

There are two sections to Lovelock - the buildings within and the surrounding structures. Be sure to check all of them to make sure that you don't miss any vital clues and items!

Be careful of the antmind. She will use nightmares to lure you to her.

Borax is now a ghost town, and there are only three buildings left, but there are three other places of interest outside of the town that are sure to harbor surprises!

Check out The Atomic Cafe where Prissy works, also present is the police, Sonny's slug a bug, and your home

There are many places you can find like the Mine shaft, the Sand Flat, and the Barbecue pass. These terrains will lead you to different scenes and maybe even to some ants!

Meet the entire cast of desert-dwelling civilians.

The main characters:

  • Buzz Lincoln - The hero of the game and a loner.
  • Dr. Horton T. Pangbourne - A scientist that will help you analyze your findings.

The borax characters:

  • Clay - A black, blind, wheelchair-ridden saxophone player that has an understanding of the desert
  • Marina - A dashing young girl that will help Buzz feel better when stressed out.
  • Man O'Steel - A macho ex-surfer that will help you build up you stamina in the ongoing fight.

The lovelock civilians

  • Sheriff of Lovelock - Will become hostile if any comments are made about Lovelocks problems.
  • Lud - Owner of an ammo supply store and will sell to anyone for any reason.
  • Sonny - Is in charge of pest control and is after the hand of Buzz's girlfriend!
  • Prissy O'Donnell - Buzz's girlfriend who is very curious about Buzz's actions.
  • Buzz's Mother - This woman will hound you constantly and dominates Buzz's father.
  • Buzz's Father - By nature, a wimp. He will offer you pessimistic information and ideas.
  • Foundry Supervisor - He can help you with his ability to make anything out of steel!
  • Power Station Manager - A drunk that is very host tile towards Buzz.
  • Nicole O'Donnell - Prissy's younger sister. She has some connection with the Antmind.
  • Carl Meadows - A newscaster for channel 14 and is very obnoxious. Has a strange parrot
  • Buzz's Fantasy Girl - This is the ideal girl that Buzz visualizes. Do not fall for her, for she is just a projected image from the Antmind to tempt you.

A time of reckoning

It was a time when the human race was reaching its peak of technology - the construction of the atom bomb. Now, the bomb is being tested in a far away place near the tumbleweed towns of Lovelock and Borax. One of the chief pioneers of this testing was Dr. Horton T. Pandbourne, who has studied the effects of the blast for several years. Unfortunately, his records have helped him discover that the radiation from the blast can cause genetic mutation of living tissue. All of this was unaccepted by the scientific community and Dr. Pangbourne was called a crack-pot and a failure for stating that the biological system of the area could be dramatically changed by the intense radiation. Relieved of his post, the Doc now spends his time with a well-equipped lab to keep on studying the effects.

To this day, Lovelock was slowly slipping into a dark state of depression. Littered with suicides, theft, domestic beating, and murder, Lovelock is turning out to be the epitome of a fatalistic urban nightmare. The citizens, police, and others, are ill-willed and are at the last depths of their sanity. Even the town is known as "The Atomic City" and even the buildings have names like the Atomic Lunch Cafe, or the Ground Zero Drive-in. This town is the prime example of the Atomic Age.

Enter Buzz Lincoln, an 18 year old loner who's mother is a chain smoker and his father is a complete wimp. With his girlfriend Prissy at his side and his Harley Davidson motorcycle under him, he tries to make the best of his life, working for Dr. Pangbourne as an assistant. But all that was to change...

A new terror has just arrived - a terror beyond imagination, scope, and sanity. Only the Doc was able to foresee such an event. The radiation has caused a female queen ant to grow to massive proportions. As the huge mutants began tunneling under Lovelock, they started capturing humans and the queen - called "Antmind" - conditioned them into mindless slaves. Not only that, but she replaced them with synthetic replicas of the ones they captured on the surface. Their ultimate goal - to construct another A-bomb to destroy Lovelock, and to repopulate the world with a new order - The civilization of the insect world. The war has just begun!

Download It Came From The Desert

PC Engine

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 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.

Game Reviews

The first third-party CD development is an adaptation of the classic Cinemaware computer game. This take off on the fifty's movie Them! highlights giant ants, a powerful soundtrack, and all new sound and voice effects. One of many new CD releases on the way!

It Came From the Desert merges the game play and story-telling together with motion video, sound and voice presented in a way that only the TurboGrafx-16 CD-ROM can. You must unravel the mystery hidden within a small town. Locate local folk, use their vocal clues and make your next move. Interspersed throughout the game are a variety of action sequences that take you head to head against the title menace!

People say:


This is another Turbo game that has a variety of interesting concepts that just didn't gel. While some may question the quality, I like the motion video in this and other Turbo CDs A LOT! Unfortunately, the access time is way slow and the one-on-one segments drag on a bit. The action is adequate, but not exceptional.


These are the types of games that the Turbo needs to get it going again. Unfortunately it took years to make this one. Great branching of the plot and a decent merging of action sequences with the fill-in digitized animation keep this quest game moving along nicely. A good advancement over the Sherlock CD.


This is a sad case of a great idea blended with poor execution. The game play consists of little more than choosing menus and a cheesy side scrolling and overhead shooting scene. The cinemas are choppy yet still have some cool features. The game play is non-existent. NOT fun to play. Since when do bikes have radios?


While the cinema display segments are graphically cool, they are a little too choppy and do not seem to have anything to do with the action sequences. They are purely for show, and can become boring at times. Slow access times hurt the game horribly. The action is average but lacks the excitement of a good title.

Combine real actors with a graphic adventure game and put it on a high memory CD and you will have one of the most innovative games ever created.

Lovelock's a sleepy, desert town in for a shock. A toxic spill at the local Atomic Plant causes a colony of harmless ants to mutate into an army of rabid, man-eating beasts. If someone doesn't stop her soon, the Queen Ant will exterminate Lovelock's inhabitants as an appetizer to her main course -- the entire human race! This can only mean one thing. It Came from the Desert is heeeeere.

A Deadly Encounter

You play homeboy biker Buzz Lincoln, quite possibly humanity's last hope before... CHOMP! As Doctor Horton Pang-borne's atomic energy assistant, you investigate the Atomic Plant when the Doc's radiation sensor grid is disrupted. As you search the deserted facility, you're jumped by a pack of glow-in-the-goo ants. A few revolver rounds save your skin, but the war has only just begun.

You have eight days to convince Lovelock's citizens of their imminent ant danger. Then you must hunt down and torch the Queen before she fulfills her sinister plans to use an A-bomb to turn Lovelock into a smoldering, mushroom-shaped cloud.

Eight Days to Save the World

To produce stunning visuals, It Came from the Desert melds full-motion video, digitized scenes, and hand-drawn images. You see Lovelock's settings through Buzz's eyes, and the bulk of the game is a menu-driven graphic adventure. You choose people to talk to, places to go, and sights to see. Certain cinema segments run automatically, others are triggered by your actions.

You interact with an eccentric cast of characters, each with their own personality and motivations. Some folks will help you and provide important clues. Others have been psychically enslaved by the Queen's Antmind and turned into Antdroids! The Antmind's influence will try to possess you over the radio waves, on T.V., and whenever you encounter a 'droid.

Each day you have several turns to visit the surroundings. Key locations include the Atomic Cafe, the Foundry, the ghost town Borax, Lud's Ammo Shop, Doc's Observatory, and your girlfriend Prissy's home. If you encounter an antsy situation, you'll waste the bugs in one of three arcade sequences.

Crawl this Way

It Came from the Desert tosses several types of game play at you. The most common battle pits you against the ants in an overhead view, tactical land war. You use bombs and dynamite to seal off the ants' underground tunnels. This sequence is good action, but not spectacular.

Expose the Queen's mental control over an Antdroid and she'll unleash a gaggle of flesh-rending mini ants to nibble this helpless human to bits. In this overhead view segment, you stand over the prone character. You must aim an onscreen gun sight and snipe- shoot the creepy crawlers before the citizen is skinless ant chow. This segment is gruesome, but fun!

Conserve bullets. Take out two or more ants with one shot.

To reach Queenie's hideout at the game's end, you must run, gun, and grenade your way through a maze of ant tunnels. Your pistol and explosives keep ants and Antdroids at bay as you inch through three side-view, horizontally scrolling levels. Your moves are somewhat limited and hard to control, but survival of the fittest is the name of this game.

If you're sandwiched between ants, quickly back-flip or forward flip over them.

Since it first crawled out from the Amiga, it Came from the Desert has practically become a legend in its own time.

Bugs that Glow in the Dark

You play Buzz Lincoln, loner and outcast a typical high school senior in decrepit Lovelock, formerly known as "Atomic City" before the nuclear testing facility was shut down. Unfortunately, the nuke boys unwittingly left behind a little... err, big surprise -- ATOMIC ANTS!!!

Their leader is an ultra-intelligent, mutant queen called the Antmind, who plans to build an A-bomb to turn Lovelock into a nuclear slag heap. To carry out the scheme she's created Antdroids, bio-robots who look like people. They have the power to enslave the other characters -- including you!

It Came from the Desert combines horizontal sideview and overhead view arcade style combat with RPG style detective work. The game uses live actors, digitized as in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, but the super smooth animation-to-voice will blow you away!

You must collect evidence by visiting places and interrogating characters to convince the authorities that they've got a huge pest problem. Don't expect idle chit-chat. There'll be at least three thumb-bruising arcade games woven into the CD. In the Antdroid Arcade Game, you try to zap a horde of bugs before they eat a poor townsperson. To get the Queen you fight a horizontally scrolling Tunnel Combat Game against gigantic soldier ants. Finally, in the Main Battle you command planes and soldiers against the big bugs from an overhead view.


This game definitely has more than a few bugs in it -- which is great! It Came from the Desert looks like it's going to be worth the wait.

The title screen of Cinemaware's new "interactive movie" perfectly evokes the delectably menacing mood of the late-1950s "giant bug" films which inspired the game: lurid purple-and-crim-son clouds above the desert...a jack rabbit leaps behind a cactus...the stillness shatters when a "meteor" suddenly arcs down, lands behind an old volcano, explodes with a disturbingly A-bomb-like cloud of fire...the music swells ominously as the credits loom out of the sapphire sands: IT CAME FROM THE DESERT!

Based primarily on the 1954 classic giant-ant movie THEM!, I.C.F.T.D. plops you down in the fly-blown desert town of Lizard Breath, in the role of a solitary (but handsome) geologist. You are given 15 days in which to: discover the giant ants; convince the skeptical locals that they're about to be turned into hexapod snacks; devise a strategy for saving the town; and finally, do battle with the critters, using everything from your personal sidearm to the tanks and howitzers of the local National Guard unit.

All those great cliches from the giant-bug movies are worked into the game: a crotchety (but lovable, and probably doomed) old prospector and his mule; a disheveled and desirable woman who shows up at your cabin looking for shelter; obtuse hayseeds; the skeptical National Guard officer; the sympathetic university scientist; even a jalopy full of local drugstore cowboys who keep running you off the road in games of chicken.

Cinemaware's unsurpassed graphics really capture the ambience not only of the movie genre, but also of the time and place. In addition to the basic man-vs.-bug plot are interesting sub-plots involving land scams, romantic rivalries, even a desert cult.

If the graphics are delightful, sometimes spectacular, their impact is greatly enhanced by an original score that is sublimely creepy and evocative. It Came From The Desert is simply a joy.

Snapshots and Media

PC Engine Screenshots

DOS Screenshots

Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Screenshots

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