Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf

From Sega Retro


  • Mega Drive
  • Master System
  • Game Gear
DesertStrike MDTitleScreen.png
DesertStrike SMS Title.png
DesertStrike GG Title.png
Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf
System(s): Sega Mega Drive, Sega Master System, Sega Game Gear
Sega Mega Drive
Electronic Arts (US/EU)
Sega Mega Drive
Electronic Arts Victor (JP)
Sega Master System
Sega Game Gear
Sega Game Gear
Tengen (US)
Sound driver:
Sega Mega Drive
custom (Brian Schmidt)
Genre: Shooting[1][2], Simulation[1], Action[3]

Number of players: 1
Official in-game languages:
Sega Mega Drive
  • English
  • 日本語
  • Sega Master System
    Sega Game Gear
  • English
  • Deutsch
  • Français
  • Español
  • Release Date RRP Code
    Sega Mega Drive
    ¥8,9008,900 EM20010
    Sega Mega Drive
    $49.9549.95[4] 702201
    Sega Mega Drive
    Sega Mega Drive
    (EA Classics)
    ELSPA: 3+ OK
    Sega Mega Drive
    DM 110110 E224SMXI
    Sega Mega Drive
    (EA Classics)
    USK: 0
    Sega Mega Drive
    Sega Mega Drive
    £39.9939.99[6][7] E224SMXI
    Sega Mega Drive
    Sega Mega Drive
    Sega Mega Drive
    Sega Mega Drive
    Sega Master System
    MK 29010-50
    Sega Master System
    Sega Master System
    £29.9929.99[10][9] MK 29010-50
    Sega Master System
    Sega Game Gear
    Videogame Rating Council: GA
    Sega Game Gear
    Sega Game Gear
    Sega Game Gear
    £29.9929.99[12] T-88068-50

    Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, called Desert Strike: Wangan Sakusen (デザートストライク 湾岸作戦) in Japan and better known simply as Desert Strike, is an isometric-projection shoot-em-up by Electronic Arts released for the Sega Mega Drive in 1992, and subsequently ported to other platforms. It is the first game in EA's so-called Strike series of isometric shoot-em-ups.


    A terrorist named General Kilbaba violently takes over a small Arab emirate and plans a major nuclear strike, to which the president of the United States orders a helicopter (A Super Apache as named in game) team in the Special Forces (US Marine Corps in the Master System version) to intervene. You are in control of one such helicopter.


    Missions are mostly intertwined with each other. For example blowing up a radar station will in return make you harder for enemies to hit you. Failing one of missions usually results in game over.

    You are also given co-pilot that will assist you with your mission. These pilots have varying degrees of skills with marksmanship and winch control. Reading their dossiers will usually give you a rough idea about their skill levels. 5th pilot Valdez is missing and can be found in first mission. He is near the north-western part of the map nearby a crashed F-14.

    Your helicopter has limited ammo and fuel. It also has limited armor. Without ammo, you can attack enemies. If fuel depletes, your helicopter will eventually crash and you will lose life. If armor reaches zero you will also lose a life. Ammo and fuel can be recovered by acquiring ammo boxes or fuel drums respectively with your winch. Armor can be recovered two ways : either find an Armor Repair (very, very rare. In later levels map don't even show their locations) or by rescuing people and dropping them off near a friendly landing zone. Each rescued person will increase the armor by 100 points. Be careful though as power ups can be destroyed and prisoners can be killed. Each level also has extra lives but these are, again, very difficult to find.

    You are required to return to your home base (usually the frigate you take off from at the beginning of each level) when you complete or fail the level. There are total of 3 lives. Losing all of them will end the game.

    Game contains 5 levels with different missions, with some of them having time limits.

    Desert Strike also has a password system.

    Mega Drive

    Each of the game's four levels is a separate mission with different objectives. To complete the objectives, you are given ammunition of varying power levels (shot by pressing A (Hellfires and Jink), B (Hydras), or C (Guns), listed in order of decreasing power). Though the game uses an isometric projection, the control behaves more like a full 3D game, where using Left and Right rotates your chopper, Up moves you forward in t he direction you're facing, and Down moves you backward. Hitting Select allows you to access a map, a summary of the mission, and mission status.

    Master System

    Due to limitation of buttons on Master System's control pad, control scheme is somewhat different than Mega Drive version. Pressing both 1 and 2 fire Hellfire, while holding down 2 is need for strafing. Pause button is the status screen.



    According to Desert Strike's original design document (dated 1990-06-18), the game was originally titled Beirut Breakout, being based on the then-ongoing Lebanese Civil War[13] . It was later advertised as Apache AHX: Desert Madman.


    Desert Strike's similarities with the Gulf War caused controversy at the time of release, thought to be glorifying Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Reportedly some Gulf War veterans in the US openly burned copies of the Mega Drive game in public in protest[14].


    Localised names

    Also known as
    Language Localised Name English Translation
    English Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf
    English (US) Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf
    Japanese デザートストライク 湾岸作戦 Desert Strike: Wangan Sakusen

    Production credits

    Mega Drive version

    By Mike Posehn (implying he is the creator)
    • Programming: Mike Posehn
    • Game Design: Mike Posehn, John Manley
    • Art: Paul Vernon, Gary Martin, Amy Hennig
    • Sound and Music: Rob Hubbard, Brian Schmidt
    • Technical Director: Carl Mey
    • Producer: Richard Robbins
    In-game credits (title screen roll)

    Master System version

    Desert Strike is a Trademark of Electronic Arts
    • Desert Strike Presented by: The Kremlin
    • Programmed by: Michael A Carr (The Magi)
    • Graphic Artists: Matthew Hicks, Mike Adams
    • Music Composed by: Andy Taylor
    • Sound Effects by: Michael A Carr
    • Original Game by: Mike Posehn, Paul Vernon and John Manley
    Copyright 1992 Electronic Arts
    All Rights Reserved

    Magazine articles

    Main article: Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf/Magazine articles.

    Promotional material

    Main article: Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf/Promotional material.

    Physical scans

    Mega Drive version

    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Score Source
    89 [15]
    83 №6/92
    68 [16]
    80 [17]
    85 [18]
    92 [19]
    92 [20]
    68 [21]
    65 №228, p40
    94 [22]
    84 [23]
    100 №44
    93 [24]
    85 №5, p4/32/33
    91 №5, p26-29
    40 №1993-04, p44
    86 [25]
    93 [26]
    90 [27]
    90 №5, p91
    84 [28]
    86 №23, p79
    94 №1, p65
    93 [29]
    94 №18, p56
    94 [30]
    89 [31]
    82 №6/92, p144/145
    92 [32]
    91 [33]
    92 [34]
    93 №18, p65
    91 [35]
    90 [36]
    82 [37]
    Sega Mega Drive
    Based on
    35 reviews
    Mega Drive, JP
    Desertstrike md jp cover.jpg
    DesertStrike MD JP CartTop.jpg
    DesertStrike MD JP Cart.jpg
    DesertStrike MD jp manual.pdf
    Mega Drive, US
    DesertStrike MD US Box.jpg
    DesertStrike MD US Cart.jpg
    DesertStrike MD US manual.pdf
    DesertStrike MD US pcb.jpg
    Mega Drive, US (cardboard)
    DesertStrike MD US cb front.jpg
    DesertStrike MD US Cart Cardboard.jpg
    Mega Drive, EU
    DesertStrike MD EU Box.jpg
    DesertStrike MD US Cart.jpg
    Mega Drive, EU (Classic)
    DesertStrike MD EU Box Classic.jpg
    DesertStrike MD US Cart.jpg
    DesertStrike MD EU eac pcb.jpg
    Mega Drive, FR

    Desert Strike MD FR Manual.pdf
    Mega Drive, PT
    DesertStrike MD PT cover.jpg
    Mega Drive, SE (Rental)
    DesertStrike MD SE Box rental.jpg
    Mega Drive, AU
    DesertStrike MD AU cover.jpg
    Mega Drive, BR
    DesertStrike MD BR Box.jpg
    DesertStrike MD BR Cart.jpg
    Mega Drive, KR
    DesertStrike MD KR Box.jpg
    DesertStrike MD KR carttop.jpg
    DesertStrike MD KR cartback.jpgDesertStrike MD KR Cart.jpg

    Master System version

    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Score Source
    89 [38]
    89 №27, p106
    92 [39]
    79 [40]
    92 [41]
    90 [42]
    90 [43]
    92 [44]
    93 №26, p62/63
    Sega Master System
    Based on
    9 reviews
    Master System, EU
    DesertStrike SMS EU Box.jpg
    DesertStrike SMS EU Cart.jpg
    Master System, FR (Blister pack)
    DesertStrike SMS FR blister front.jpg
    Master System, PT
    DesertStrike SMS PT cover.jpg
    Master System, PT (Super Preço)
    DesertStrike SMS PT sp cover.jpg
    Master System, AU

    DesertStrike SMS AU Cart.jpg

    Game Gear version

    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Score Source
    {{{{{icon}}}|L}} Division by zero.
    Based on
    0 review
    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Version Score
    Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) NTSC-U
    GamePro (US) NTSC-U
    Joypad (FR) PAL
    Player One (FR)
    Sega Pro (UK) PAL
    Sonic Mag: B.D. & Jeux-Video! (FR)
    Video Games (DE) PAL
    Sega Game Gear
    Based on
    7 reviews

    Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf

    Game Gear, US
    DesertStrike GG US Box Back.jpgNospine.pngDesertStrike GG US cover.jpg
    DesertStrike GG US cart.jpg
    Desertstrike gg us manual.pdf
    Game Gear, EU
    DesertStrike GG EU Box Back.jpgNospine.pngDesertStrike GG EU cover.jpg
    DesertStrike GG EU cart.jpg

    Technical information

    ROM dump status

    System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
    Sega Mega Drive
    CRC32 67a9860b
    MD5 6f37f036c8de2bf78d11079cd2424370
    SHA-1 d7e7d8c358eb845b84fb08f904cc0b95d0a4053d
    1MB 1992-03 Cartridge (US/EU)
    Sega Mega Drive
    CRC32 1e740145
    MD5 414a548a2ab68a8e4840359c08b24ab9
    SHA-1 9e01c6c45670e2950242facfba6c5b79052550ed
    1MB 1993-04 Cartridge (JP/KR)
    Sega Master System
    CRC32 6c1433f9
    MD5 df89aa1ebc5f42db21fb8d12d9e78511
    SHA-1 e6181baef80ecc88b3eb82a46cf93793f06e01f1
    512kB Cartridge (EU)
    Sega Game Gear
    CRC32 3e44eca3
    MD5 a5d8f63bda80b2d0cf587655a389ae4c
    SHA-1 3bb092b14c650c5ffd0370e6870878282b3d04f4
    512kB Cartridge (EU)
    Sega Game Gear
    CRC32 f6c400da
    MD5 ecfcb1f193ab20547e3dc1f4304ef21e
    SHA-1 80b91bdf20605d940401738202c473df632d0765
    512kB Cartridge (US)


    1. 1.0 1.1 File:Desertstrike md jp cover.jpg
    2. 2.0 2.1 (Wayback Machine: 2020-07-02 23:21)
    3. File:DesertStrike GG EU Box Back.jpg
    4. 4.0 4.1 GamePro, "March 1992" (US; 1992-xx-xx), page 46
    5. 5.0 5.1 Sega Power, "March 1992" (UK; 1992-02-06), page 11
    6. Mean Machines, "February 1992" (UK; 1992-01-27), page 21
    7. Computer & Video Games, "July 1992" (UK; 1992-06-15), page 30
    8. GamesMaster, "October 1996" (UK; 1996-08-29), page 11
    9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Mean Machines Sega, "December 1993" (UK; 1993-10-xx), page 104
    10. Sega Force Mega, "January 1994" (UK; 1993-12-16), page 71
    11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 GamePro, "January 1994" (US; 199x-xx-xx), page 206
    12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Sega Pro, "Xmas Special 1993" (UK; 1993-12-02), page 60
    13. [Retro Gamer issue #45 Retro Gamer issue #45]
    14. [CU Amiga, 1993-04 CU Amiga, 1993-04]
    15. ACE, "April 1992" (UK; 1992-03-08), page 42-47 (42)
    16. Beep! MegaDrive, "May 1993" (JP; 1993-04-08), page 22 (24)
    17. Sega Saturn Magazine, "September 1995" (JP; 1995-08-08), page 83 (85)
    18. Consoles +, "Mars 1992" (FR; 1992-0x-xx), page 100-103 (100)
    19. Computer & Video Games, "March 1992" (UK; 1992-02-15), page 22/23 (22)
    20. Computer + Video Giochi, "Aprile 1992" (IT; 1992-xx-xx), page 74/75 (74)
    21. Electronic Gaming Monthly, "April 1992" (US; 1992-xx-xx), page 26
    22. Game Mania, "May 1993" (UK; 1993-xx-xx), page 80
    23. GamePro, "March 1992" (US; 1992-xx-xx), page 44 (46)
    24. Game Power, "Giugno 1992" (IT; 1992-xx-xx), page 28-30 (30)
    25. Hobby Consolas, "Julio 1992" (ES; 1992-xx-xx), page 46-49 (46)
    26. Joypad, "Mars 1992" (FR; 1992-0x-xx), page 94-96 (94)
    27. Joystick, "Février 1992" (FR; 1992-0x-xx), page 120/121 (120)
    28. Mega, "January 1993" (UK; 1992-12-17), page 81
    29. MegaTech, "March 1992" (UK; 1992-02-20), page 18-21 (18)
    30. Mean Machines, "February 1992" (UK; 1992-01-27), page 18-21 (18)
    31. Player One, "Mai 1992" (FR; 1992-05-10), page 62/63 (62)
    32. Sega Force, "April 1992" (UK; 1992-03-19), page 62/63 (62)
    33. Sega Power, "April 1992" (UK; 1992-03-05), page 16-19 (16)
    34. Sega Pro, "April 1992" (UK; 1992-03-19), page 60/61 (60)
    35. Supergame, "Junho 1992" (BR; 1992-06-xx), page 34/35 (34)
    36. Supersonic, "Mai/Juin 1992" (FR; 1992-xx-xx), page 4
    37. Video Games, "6/92" (DE; 1992-05-29), page 45 (43)
    38. Consoles +, "Janvier 1994" (FR; 1994-xx-xx), page 144 (124)
    39. Mean Machines Sega, "December 1993" (UK; 1993-10-xx), page 104/105 (104)
    40. Player One, "Janvier 1994" (FR; 199x-xx-xx), page 114
    41. Sega Magazine, "February 1994" (UK; 1994-01-10), page 109 (110)
    42. Sega Force Mega, "January 1994" (UK; 1993-12-16), page 70/71 (70)
    43. Sega Master Force, "December 1993" (UK; 1993-11-11), page 26/27 (26)
    44. Sega Power, "December 1993" (UK; 1993-11-xx), page 106-108 (106)
    45. Electronic Gaming Monthly, "December 1993" (US; 1993-xx-xx), page 55
    46. Joypad, "Février 1994" (FR; 199x-xx-xx), page 115
    47. Player One, "Février 1994" (FR; 1994-0x-xx), page 116
    48. Sonic Mag: B.D. & Jeux-Video!, "Mai 1994" (FR; 1994-04-15), page 38
    49. Video Games, "4/94" (DE; 1994-03-23), page 112

    Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf
    DesertStrike MDTitleScreen.png

    Main page | Comparisons | Maps | Hidden content | Magazine articles | Reception | Region coding

    Strike games for Sega systems
    Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf (1992) | Jungle Strike (1993) | Urban Strike (1994) | Soviet Strike (1997)