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Dune GBA game releases on PC, 20 years after being canceled

A Dune-themed Game Boy Advance game that was canceled in 2002 is seeing the light of day. First spotted by Twitter account The SpaceShipper, the recently released Steam title Elland: The Crystal Wars was previously the game Dune: Ornithopter Assault.

In 2001, development began on an ambitious Game Boy Advance game based on a popular franchise,” reads the Elland description on Steam. “It was cancelled in 2002 and the team walked away. Twenty years later, this game finally sees the light of day, albeit without the original franchise license.”

It’s not uncommon to hear about a game that was canceled years ago. It’s another thing for that canceled game, let alone a licensed one, to be completed decades later and released under a wholly new name.

Following the commercial success of 1992’s Dune strategy game by Cryo Interactive, Frank Herbert’s acclaimed sci-fi novel became a steady video game franchise. Ornithopter Assault was being co-developed by Cryo and Hungarian developer Soft Brigade, and was canceled after Cryo went into bankruptcy.

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The rights to Ornithopter were acquired by publisher Retro Room, and through Kickstarter funding, it and developer Auk Play completed development on the game. Now described as an “enhanced, emulated version” of the original, Elland puts players in the shoes of a fighter pilot on a “harsh desert world.” 

Specific Kickstarter backers will be receiving a physical Game Boy Advance version of Elland. 

Dune fans will be able to see where the parts of Herbert’s novel have been swapped out for something more original: the Ornithopter aircrafts are now dubbed Raptors, the planet Arrakis is now the titular Elland, and so on. Players pilot flying machines with different specialties to perform missions such as escort and combat.

The sudden reemergence of Elland comes as publisher Funcom is beginning to release its own games based on Dune under a deal it struck with Legendary Pictures. Earlier this year, Shiro Games released Dune: Spice Wars through in Early Access. At Gamescom in August, Funcom also announced its survival MMO, Dune: Awakening.

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