Dune Soundtrack (PC), Stéphane Picq, 1992
It feels like early media adaptations of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic Dune were doomed to run into equally epic troubles during their production. There’s, of course, the convoluted story of how Dune finally reached cinema screens in 1984 after more than a decade of failed attempts, only to disappoint at the box office and alienate its director. The first video game adaptation of Dune equally struggled to actually see the light of day – to the point where publisher Virgin Games cancelled the game (and launched the development of what would become Dune II), only to find out later that Cryo Interactive had secretly continued work on Dune. Thankfully, there was a happy ending to the story. Due to its innovative mix of adventure and strategy elements, Dune became a commercial hit, with 300,000 units sold by 1997, paving the way for Cryo’s expansion and prolific output throughout the 1990s.
In their assessments, contemporary reviewers put unusual emphasis on Stéphane Picq’s soundtrack for Dune. Picq’s work soon became part of game music history when Virgin Records released an arrange album titled Dune – Spice Opera. At this point in time, album releases of Western game music were nearly unheard of, so for a European game soundtrack to receive an arrange album was entirely unexpected. The work left its mark – when online game music criticism started to pop up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dune – Spice Opera garnered rave reviews for its unusual and creative aesthetics. It remains a fan favourite, its official release in Europe making it one of the first pieces of game music available for purchase by budding fans of the art form.