I have no idea whose bright idea it was to offer up this complex mix of building, worm-avoiding, and spice-definitely-not-drugs collecting on a three-button pad and a console that could barely handle it, but… well, they did alright. Dune II set the standard for the RTS, and so very much of it is recognisable to this day – I mean, it even uses some of the same sound effects from Command and Conquer, and quickly established the norm of central base, harvester, and loads of pointless scout buggies. It’s dated, yes, it’s especially clunky on Mega Drive, sure, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and offers up a genuine challenge. Even if the challenge is in the form of two things: the unrelenting waves of attacking units coming from enemy bases, and the fact you forget to avoid the sandworms and lose your best units and it’s entirely your fault. There wasn’t much else in the traditional RTS vein that came out on Mega Drive after Dune II.
From having a hand in creating the genre with Herzog Zwei, towards the end of its life it was graced with the presence of the game that made the RTS what it is today – which is a nice poetic touch, I’d say. You can’t select groups of units though, and that makes me want to burn down this stupid desert planet git. Well before Jurassic Park came on the scene and made an RTS based on dinosaurs seem like the most natural thing in the world, Dyna Brothers was doing just that on, for some reason, the Mega Drive. It ended up being a fun couple of games, each incorporating aspects of the genre that would become the norm in years to follow – a hierarchy for unit-building, this time being from herbivore, to carnivore, to… umm… eggivore, careful resource – or grass – management, and the desire to try and tank rush your opponent with as many allosaurs as you could hatch in a short period. It wasn’t like much else on the console, and while clunky as Captain Clunk of Clunksville, USA, it’s still capable of being enjoyed, as the professionals say, today.
The sequel, which you won’t see here because of recording issues, did that thing you’d expect sequels to do – ramped everything up, changed about some controls, made it all run a bit smoother and make a bit more sense, while generally keeping the premise the same. You still made dino eggs, you still had an overreliance on herbivores early on, and you still had to wrestle with common sense to figure out how to make your idiot feather-lizards go where you wanted them to. Both the Dyna Brothers games are some of the oddest titles to appear on Mega Drive – not necessarily for their content; dinosaurs eating other things is pretty straightforward, and there’s little about it outside the controls that doesn’t make sense. No, they were odd because of how close they were to how the actual, proper RTS genre turned out on PC, and how the first game came out well before Dune II did.