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Desert Strike is an early ninties action game from Electronic Arts loosely based on the first Gulf War.

The player controls an Apache gunship and undertakes several missions for the US government as they attempt to thwart the actions of the mad dictator Killbaba.

Played from an isometric perspective, the game is more tactical than an out and out shooting game.

Coming so soon after the end of the war it depicts the game was initially thought to be in bad taste. Ultimately the quality of the game won out and it was a huge seller, spawning several sequels.

Desert Strike was followed up by a number of sequels. On the Sega Genesis Jungle Strike featured the son of the madman teaming up with a drug lord, while Urban Strike featured the pilot taking on an insidious politician. Soviet Strike and Nuclear Strike were featured on the Sony Playstation, though these two abandoned the ongoing plotline established in the 16 bit trilogy, instead casting you as a member of a covert team called STRIKE, though Soviet alludes to Desert in one mission suggesting the events of that game were retconned as a STRIKE mission, which could mean that STRIKE had a part to play in the other two games.

Oddly, it's a franchise that its publisher hasn't yet considered for a modern incarnation, despite fairly strong sales during its heyday.


Contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Ace Pilot
  • Artistic License Chemistry: In Nuclear Strike, you're treated to the line "You mix Nitrogen and Chloride; you get salt". Nitrogen Trichloride is, in fact similar to teargas.
    • The writer of that line probably was confused about the chemical formula of salt, Na Cl. Na stands for Sodium (AKA Natrium), not Nitrogen, but the other half is Chloride.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Jungle Strike features an F-117 with literally infinite ammo. This was done because the game's mechanics weren't really designed to handle a constantly moving jet fighter.
  • Captain Ersatz: General Killbaba is clearly meant to be Saddam, there are others too.
    • Averted with Bill Clinton.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Your chopper can be shot full of holes from all manner of rocket and AA gunfire, down to 5 remaining hitpoints and still keep fighting just as good as it does at 100% health, but one stray bullet from a soldier's rifle, and...
  • Darker and Edgier: The Playstation versions. To give an idea, one mission takes place in Chernobyl where you have to kill a Romanian Gulag dominatrix (yes, you read that right) who had grown to become a ruling guerrilla leader in charge of a nation, apparently powerful enough to make a play for the Chernobyl reactor to use the nuclear materials to launch rockets over Europe. Then there's the Xanatos Gambit detailed below.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The player character in the Mission Briefing screens for Jungle Strike and Urban Strike.
  • Destroyable Items: In Jungle Strike, the player can blow up half the buildings in Washington DC and still win the mission with no more than a few points deducted from the mission's final score. Just be sure not to blow up any famous monuments.
  • Easy Logistics: What luck that our helicopter can instantly replenish ammo, fuel and even armor just by winching up supplies that just happen to be scattered all over the battlefield?
  • Fog of War: The later games featured this in order to justify respawning enemies
  • Gulf War: The first game alludes to this
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted in the first game, where the Apache's weapons load-out is 100% accurate. (yes, it can actually carry 38 rockets, 8 missiles and 1200 20mm gun rounds at once)
    • A very strange example in that the attack chopper can also carry up to six passengers. Perhaps it's best not to ask where.
    • Apparently these are Super Apache and Commanche helicopters, which not only has smart armor (explaining the extra lives) but a ramp drops down out the back, below the tail. Completing the first Moscow mission shows video of it, and numerous CG video will show where passengers would sit (sort of where the engine would be, under the rotors, separate from the cockpit).
    • Jungle Strike and Urban Strike play this mildly, with the chopper carrying one extra missile and 22 more rockets but offset this by reducing the gun's capacity by 200 rounds.
    • One mission in Jungle Strike plays completely straight, see the Bottomless Magazines entry above.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Your chopper can't change altitude, so you have to fly around two story buildings or mountians.
  • Isometric Projection: for the 16-bit games; the later installments changed to a follow perspective
  • Just Plane Wrong: The final mission of Desert Strike features C-5 Galaxy cargo plane as a "nuclear bomber".
  • Made of Iron: Though not invincible, your helicopter can take a lot of missile hits and keep flying.
  • Magic Tool: Your helicopter's winch can pick up all manner of objects and instantly switch between hook and rope-ladder
    • Armor Repair Toolboxes instantly repair all damage to your chopper with no explanation as to how or even what was fixed.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Shadowman in Soviet Strike. Allegedly one Uri Vatsisnov, fictional former head of the KGB, though this is not 100% confirmed. The codename for a mysterious individual attempting to stage a coup in post-Cold War Russia. He hacks into your site and taunts you throughout the game. He seemingly dies in the first mission but it's quickly revealed he's alive and behind the bad guys in all subsequent missions. He is never seen except in infra-red, and his voice is electronically muffled.
    • After the end credits, it transpires that STRIKE are the true masterminds behind the coup, or at least their bosses, and even allude to killing Trotsky because he did'nt play ball, making them a Government Conspiracy going back decades. The coup was apparently to frighten then-President Yeltsin into obedience.
      • Also, there is a strong possibility that the real Shadowman is none other than your co-pilot Nick Arnold, the Shadowman's convenient hostage for much of the game, maybe or not working on orders of the aforementioned conspiracy Hack once thinks that Shadowman must be a STRIKE member to be able to hack into their systems; his voice, though muffled, is similar to Nick's in later missions, and he has Nick's sense of humour and uses many of his phrases (eg. "viking funeral"). Not only is he Shadowmans hostage for most of the game, in the final levels Nick is seemingly with all the time, for no obvious reason as he has no apparent value as a captive.
  • Muzzle Flashlight: Some of the night missions
  • Nonstandard Game Over: Fail an objective and you'll be called back to base to get shouted at by a pixelly Stormin' Norman. In the Playstation games, you can even go rogue and have your allies hunt you down if you refuse to return when ordered. Eventually they'll push the self-destruct button for, of all things, refueling too many times after you are recalled.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: "Over here!"
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Most obvious in Desert Strike and Soviet Strike in relation to the Gulf War and 1991 Soviet coup attempt respectively.
  • Shout-Out: The terrorist combi van that's the first enemy you're likely to see in the second game is ripped right out of Back to The Future.
  • Stock Footage: Soviet and Nuclear Strike use this for pretty much everything that doesn't need to have the game's own characters shown. The scene of Strike Team Echo being caught infiltrating for example is actually from the real life Operation Nimrod.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: In Nuclear Strike, Nick Arnold is killed off-screen during the first mission.
  • Tanks, But No Tanks: Jungle Strike Level 3 features US M-551 "Sheridan" tanks armed with soviet 23MM AA guns. The real Sheridan was armed with a stubby, 155mm "gun" that fired anti-tank missiles.
  • Too Soon
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: Several of your copilots have to be rescued by you
  • 24-Hour News Networks: The plot is delivered by a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo version of CNN, the GBS. As if this isn't obvious enough, GBS is basically the information arm of STRIKE.
    • The 16-bit installments featured EANN, in the levels and some of the cut-scenes between missions
  • Qurac: The actual country involved in Desert Strike is never named.
  • Universal Driver's License: In Jungle Strike, Urban Strike and Nuclear Strike, the player operates additional vehicles, including a (not so) stealth fighter, a hovercraft, an armed motorcycle, a cargo helicopter and an experimental "Ground Assault Vehicle".
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Trying to rescue every civilian, allied soldier, and enemy non-combatant in every mission, even after you've rescued enough to achieve the mission objective.
    • Though, there is the benefit of gaining/recovering some hitpoints from dropping them off at landing zones.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: Chemical, bio and nuke weapons in the Desert Strike, nukes in Jungle Strike, super-lasers in Urban Strike, nukes in Soviet Strike and Nuclear Strike.
  • We Do the Impossible: Take on a battalion of tanks alone, check; sink nuclear submarines with a hovercraft, yep; destroy an air defense network consisting of Patriots, AA Guns, RPG-armed soldiers, radar and patrolling helicopters with your one chopper, no problem. And that's just in one game.
  • What Could Have Been: The ending of Nuclear Stike includes a trailer for another game, Future Strike, that was never made. It was instead developed into Future Cop LAPD.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Soviet Strike shows a shadowy character only known as the Security Czar running Strike, with associated overtones of a sinister conspiracy. He is gone in Nuclear Strike without a single mention.
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