Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, commonly known as Desert Strike, is a shoot 'em up video game released by Electronic Arts (EA) in February 1992 for Sega's Mega Drive.The game was later released on several other formats, including a much upgraded version for the Amiga home computer. The game was inspired by the Gulf War and depicts a conflict between an insane Middle Eastern dictator and the United States. The player controls a lone Apache helicopter and attempts to destroy enemy weapons and installations, rescue hostages and capture enemy personnel, while managing supplies of fuel and ammunition.
The lead designer, Mike Posehn, had no video game experience prior to developing Desert Strike. Inspired by Choplifter, he aimed to create a nonlinear game with smoothly animated vehicles. Posehn, a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, developed a camera system with momentum to mimic realistic helicopter movements. Three-dimensional (3D) modeling was used to generate the vehicle sprites, which were later touched up on the pixel level with color.
Desert Strike was a strong commercial success: it was a chart-topping best seller and at the time Electronics Arts' highest ever selling game. The game also received a favourable critical response, with several magazines awarding scores of over 90%. Reviewers praised the game's enjoyability, mix of action and strategy, graphics and sound. There was some controversy regarding the game's subject matter, with commentators criticising it as in poor taste due the proximity of its release to the recently ended Gulf War.
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