Retro-Review: Saddam’s Escape

Title Screen

Welcome! We’re going to kick things off with a retro review of one of the 90s most controversial games: Saddam’s Escape. We all remember the game that would go on to inspire real life events. The game that gave children everywhere Gulf War syndrome. The game that was so ahead of it’s time that it predicted the future!

Dropping a Body Double

It looks like a Dig Dug clone, but lacks the enemies, rocks, or existing tunnels. Player’s pressing the action button won’t find the familiar air pump from Dig Dug either, this only drops a stationary body double. I guess it’s time to get digging.

Tunneling

In the 30 seconds of round one, I’m able to tunnel to the bottom layer and drop my remaining two body doubles. As Saddam tunnels deeper, he loses his hat, his hair goes gray, and finally he sports a beard. All this work has really aged him. Now we’re ready for round two.

Soldiers take the double

On the surface, soldiers march in from either side. When they encounter my body double, they carry him off. I keep digging.

More soldiers, more tunnels

There goes my second double.

Digging deeper, on the run

They’ve got me on the run and have taken my last body double. Three soldiers remain to comb the tunnels for Saddam.

sceneEight

And they got me. There are urban legends of players escaping the soldiers, but no evidence has ever been provided. So we can only assume these are false. There is no escape.

endScene

What does Saddam’s Escape offer a player? There’s no winning and no points earned for the time you spent evading the soldiers. Was this game meant to demonstrate the futility of hiding underground when you’re a mad dictator on the run? Or was it simply a half-baked idea that was produced to capitalize on contemporary events and present a dental health message? We’ll likely never know. PrognostSoft closed it’s doors not long after the release of Saddam’s Escape. There’s almost no record of them even existing. We’ll keep looking for answers, but in the meantime, we can only be as disappointed as the children who spent Christmas day failing to escape.