It Came from the Desert (1989)

by Christopher
6 minutes read


It Came from the Desert combines action-adventure gameplay with the thematic and aesthetic elements of 1950s and 1960s horror B-Movies. Set in the small town of Lizard Breath, players, as Dr. Greg Bradley, uncover and combat a giant ant menace. Through its homage to classic cinema and innovative gameplay, the game remains a beloved title among retro gaming enthusiasts.


It Came from the Desert (1989) stands as a hallmark in the action-adventure genre, drawing heavily from the campy horror films of the 1950s and 1960s. As players step into the shoes of Dr. Greg Bradley, they are not only exploring the aftermath of a meteorite crash but also uncovering a much larger, more menacing threat to the town of Lizard Breath and potentially, the world.


“It Came from the Desert” is a classic action-adventure video game released in 1989 by Cinemaware. The game draws inspiration from 1950s monster movies, particularly the 1954 mutant-ant classic “Them!” and the 1953 horror film “It Came from Outer Space”.

The game begins with the arrival of Dr. Greg Bradley, a geologist, in the small town of Lizard Breath, California, on June 1, 1951. His initial objective is to study a meteor crash site located in the desert southwest of the town. However, he soon discovers that the radiation from the meteor has caused a local ant population to grow to an enormous size.

Despite his observations, few in the town take his warnings seriously. As the ants begin to multiply and spread, Dr. Bradley finds himself racing against time to devise a plan to stop the ants from terrorizing the world.

The gameplay in “It Came from the Desert” is a non-linear combination of dialogue boxes and several types of action scenes. It is mostly based around detective work, with less puzzle-based mechanics and more of a time-based exploration mechanic. The player must visit various locations, including mines, farms, a pub, an airfield, a local radio station, and others, to find evidence of the ants.

Simultaneously, the player must convince the townsfolk and authorities of the impending doom and contain the ant infestation. Only by utilizing every resource available, from workers to the tanks and fighter jets of the National Guard, can the player take the fight to the giant ants.

The game operates in real-time, with waiting, sleeping, and driving around consuming time. The player has a fixed amount of in-game days (15 days, ending with June 15) to succeed. If Bradley fails by this date, the ants will spread, resulting in a gloomy ending. To reach a good ending, the player must locate the ant colony and kill the queen ant.

“It Came from the Desert” was originally released for the Amiga in 1989 and then was ported to several other popular systems of the era. An expansion set, “Antheads: It Came from the Desert II,” was released in 1990.


Dr. Greg Bradley – The protagonist, a geologist and the newest resident of Lizard Breath. Other notable characters include townsfolk who assist or hinder the player’s progress and the giant ants themselves, which serve as the primary antagonists.


The gameplay is a rich mix of genres, including adventure and action sequences. Players will find themselves navigating through a linear narrative that guides them from one action-packed scenario to the next. Whether it’s battling giant ants in a first-person shooter format, racing through the desert in a chase sequence, or strategizing in overhead shooting segments, the game delivers a varied and engaging experience.


It Came from the Desert is a cult classic that not only pays homage to a bygone era of cinema but also carves its own niche within the video game industry. With its engaging mix of action, adventure, and horror elements, it offers a memorable experience that stands the test of time.

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