February 11, 2012

Desert Strike, Return to the Gulf: Part I

Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf (you can use this guide, but give The Guy With Not Enough Time On His Hands credit).

Desert Strike is a helicopter shoot em' up title that was released in the mid 90's for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis platforms. I have played both versions and they are nearly identical. However- and I say this after playing the SNES version for years; I prefer the Sega Genesis version. The sequel's sequel, Urban Strike, suffers from lag on the SNES because the hardware cannot process it as fast as the Genesis. In that respect (playing Urban Strike) the Genesis has more raw processing power. The game is about a madman during the events of Desert Storm, and came out a while after. The madman is out to cause mayhem in the Middle East by taking over a "small country" *COUGHkuwaitCOUGH, and you are being called to thwart his plans.

One amusing difference is in the introduction: in the Genesis version a soldier is seen drowning someone with an apparatus. In the SNES version, he is just in a cage. I would suspect Nintendo had some kind of say in that. I digress. This game has four levels with each one getting incrementally harder. This game is played with three key points in mind: Survival, fuel management and flight planning. Differences between Strikes Here are the differences between SNES and Genesis. Genesis is more synthesized and has a lot more processing power while the SNES version is more mono/stereo than synthesized. Also, before the debriefing while it shows your score, on the Genesis it is a round port hole. On the SNES, it is a square port hole. On the Genesis version the terrorist is drowning a guy in a torture device. In the SNES version he is in a cage. Genesis also offers less lag than the SNES due to raw processing power. Other than that, and a cool missile on the menu screen of the Genesis, there isn't much of a difference. Also, the SNES version uses numbers in the password. The Genesis uses letters only, passwords between the platforms are NOT interchangeable.

The Three Key Aspects of the Strike Games 
Survival- This game is about survival. You survive by using two methods: managing your ammo consumption and dodging attacks. A common way to avoid enemy fire is to quickly back up, fly right past a target, or circle around it. Also- pick up friendlies when you can. Your apache is equipped with a winch which allows it to collect 1 ups, ammo, fuel, and personnel. The apache has a full load of 6 people (keep in mind, in real life this is not true). You want to land at a designated landing zone with people when you are low on armor- one person replenishes 100 armor, and you only have 600 in Desert Strike. Also remember that missions MUST be completed in order. If you don't, you will run into a "danger zone" with twice as powerful and twice as accurate enemies. Unless something is directly in your way, just ignore it. For objectives that are guarded, it may be wise to take out the defenses first to save heartache from happening later.

Fuel Management- That apache burns fuel like no tomorrow. If I recall correctly, you consume fuel at a rate of one point per second- so you will need to pick up gas roughly every 2 minutes. When your fuel gauge reads below 30, it is time to get fuel. If you don't, you will crash and waste a life.

Flight Planning- After level 1, flight planning is key. You want to leave certain ammo crates and fuel drums in place in the event you will need them later. Only take what you need when you need it. If you plan accordingly, you will save ammo, armor and especially fuel. Know where targets are beforehand, get in there, and get out. Don't dawdle around. This also includes knowing where secret items are located (usually hidden in structures). I'll do my best to point out where some of them are.

Level 1: 
Briefing: To begin, the defense forces on the coast need to be wiped out, along with their power, air fields and radar stations. You also need to rescue your mole, who has information regarding the madman's nuclear activities.

Radar Stations
On the way to your first radar station is a friendly being shot at. Help him out and pick him up. AAA reside right by the first dish. Fly around and fire two medium missiles into each of them. Bring out your small gun and blow up that radar dish. Fly northwest and repeat the process to knock out all radar stations.

Bonus F15 rescue 
Further to the northeast is a downed US air force pilot being shot at. Help him out, winch him into the copter, then blow up the F15. Power Station After rescuing the downed pilot, continue east. You will see a village under attack- rescue the woman and continue east. Then you will encounter an ambush where three army personnel are in trouble. Free them and wench them up.

Power Station
Look a little to your right and you will see power lines. Follow them southwest until you reach the power station. You will encounter two AAA and a rapier. Light up the AAA's with medium missiles and the Rapier with a hellfire. Try not to get hit by the rapier; it hurts. At this point you should be full on personnel- so you can't rescue the two by the power station. Light up the power plant to finish objective 2. When you blow up the station, a repair crate will spawn. Take it if you need it, but at this point I had 525/600 armor. Avoid the M3VDA on the way to the air field to the west.

Air fields 
After the power plant you should be running low on gas. Take the drum at the station and move west. You will encounter two rapiers and three AAAs at the airfield. Dispatch them, and kill the pilots running for the MIGs. Be careful blowing up the control tower: a guy with a SAM is inside. As you blow up the hangars, an M3VDA will join the party. Launch a hellfire into it and continue your work. The far right hangar has fuel in it- and a guy with a SAM. Take the fuel crate, blow up the MIGs, and move southeast. There is an ammo crate down here- I found that I was low on ammo. You will see a set of small mini-warehouses. The ammo crate is in the upper right most one. Grab it and move southwest. Light up this airfield to complete objective 3. Again, watch out for hidden SAM guys.

Command Center 
At this point I am sitting at 20/600 armor. Head directly west and follow the coastline up to the landing zone where a small barge is waiting to take the folks you rescued. This will replenish your armor; 100 per person. Let 'em out then pick up the fuel and the ammo crate nearby. Your next objective is a command center in the upper right corner of the map. There are two of them: you need to take out only one and get the commander. At this point you had to unload anyways- because if you tried to pick up the commander with a full load; the copilot will yell that you are full. You can't just chuck someone out the chopper to make room.

Target the watch tower to the far left of the compound and pick up the armor kit if you need it. Take out the rapier and two AAA's, along with any watch towers in the way and nab your commander.

Secret Agent 
Then fly to the green dot on your map. Pump some lead into that AAA and grab the fuel tank. The building you want to blow up is on the far left side. Watch the little cinematic and prepare for four M3VDA's to pounce on you. Avoid their fire and blow 'em up with a hellfire each. Get the agent and your copilot and return to base for a mission complete.

Debriefing: The madman is not happy with his generals. In retaliation, the madman prepars his scuds for an attack on the populace. The agent we rescued told us of the location of generals who know where the SCUDs are, and the location of several prisons where political prisoners are being held.  

Enemy Guide
AAA (threat out of 5: *)

MVDVA (threat: * *)

Rapier (threat: * * *)

Level 2:
Briefing: The madman has retaliated for your efforts in level 1 by preparing the SCUDs for immediate launch, missiles that are powerful enough to cause major damage to the populace. Your job will be to destroy the majority of these SCUDs as well as knock out the power station, radar sites that will track incoming aircraft, and a chemical weapons facility. Also, the agent told us of a POW camp location. We need to get our men out of there.

Radar Sites 
These sites are a lot like the previous level: pump lead into the AAAs and then destroy the dishes. Start at the highest station near the top of the map and work your way down. After this mission is complete, we will work our way back up, rescuing the political prisoners. Watch out at the center radar dish- it has a AAA and a rapier guarding it. Blow it up to reveal an ammo crate. Leave it there for later. The final dish will have two rapiers guarding it. Blow them up and begin work on the prisons.

Political Prisoners 
Be very careful loading up the prisoners: a ZSU is going to waltz in on your parade and begin firing. These guys HURT, avoid them at all costs. It will take two hellfires to take one out. Fly northeast to the landing zone at the M2 Bradley IFV and unload your cargo, giving you more armor. If you need the fuel, take the drum here. When you are working on the center prison, a building to the left holds a fuel drum and to the northwest an ammo crate. Grab them if you need them. When you finish the objective, you should have four or five prisoners. You will need to unload them to make room for the SCUD commanders. Fly back and drop them off at the Bradley for some armor.

Power Station 
Next we want to knock out the power station. Fly northwest of the Bradley to reach the station. It will be guarded by two gunmen and three SAM guys. Take out two of the SAM guys on the ground and the gunmen, and avoid the fire of the one on top of the plant. Pump lead into it to complete the objective. Leave the fuel drum here.

Chemical Weapons 
Next we need to knock out the plant and the storage domes. Fly to the southeast corner of the map. If you are low on gas, fly down to the coast and pick up that fuel drum. Prepare for another M3VDA party and watch out for the three AAA guns. Some medium rockets should dispatch them. Quickly blow everything up, including the domes and the plant itself. If you need ammo, there is a crate to the north.

Bring up your map and look for the Scud commanders. This is where flight planning is going to come in handy- fly in the right order to save some fuel. Head for the closest commander in your vicinity. They are all in double hutted barracks. Blow it up carefully and capture your man in red. Watch out for surprise SAM guys. When you capture a commander, he will tell you where a SCUD is on your map: it is a solid red dot. Some players choose to pick up all of the commanders first, then attack the SCUDs. You can certainly do this to save time and fuel, but I foolishly found my guy then blew up the SCUD, rinse and repeat. Watch out for AAA near the SCUD and send 3 hellfires into it, or whatever you have left. Some are allowed to get away- but if too many do, you fail the mission. To follow the most efficient strategy, continually head to your closest target and move upwards, then to the nearest SCUD and go downwards. do NOT get too close or they will fire off their weapons! Only engage them when ready.

POW Camp
By now fuel is getting scarce. I engaged the POW camp from the south and hit the first watch tower. Blow all the other ones up and send some lead into the cabins. Make sure you are clear to pick these guys up, or else you will be fired on collecting them. Carry your cargo to the Bradley and repeat the process. Watch out for ZSU that want to rain on the parade. The second you complete the objective, head straight for the frigate, unless you can make it to a fuel drum, then to the frigate. Good job!

New Enemy Guide: ZSU (threat: 3.5/5)

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