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Scorched Earth

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Title Screen

Scorched Earth

Developer: Wendell Hicken
Publisher: Wendell Hicken
Platform: DOS
Released internationally: March 14, 1991 (1.0b), July 20, 1991 (1.0), November 23, 1991 (1.1), November 9, 1992 (1.2), November 25, 1992 (1.21), December 17, 1992 (1.22), January 11, 1993 (1.23), June 3, 1995 (1.5)

ItemsIcon.png This game has unused items.
TextIcon.png This game has unused text.
DebugIcon.png This game has debugging material.
Carts.png This game has revisional differences.

The self-proclaimed mother of all games, Scorched Earth consumed many people's time with its addictive strategy gameplay.

Unused Items

To do:
  • Add more details and screenshots.
  • Are the Jump Jets and Teleporter completely non-functional?
  • Can these items be enabled in versions other than 1.1?

All versions of the game starting from 1.1 contain strings for weapons and accessories that are not obtainable during normal gameplay.

Version 1.1

Jump Jets
Plasma Laser
Popcorn Bomb

Version 1.1 is the only known version in which the unused items can be re-enabled. Simply replace everything between 0x3BEF4-0x3BF27 with 00 in the executable to make them available for purchase. The items are largely unfinished, and have the following effects:


Jump Jets: Non-functional. Clicking on the icon in the inventory plays a low beep sound, but otherwise nothing happens.


Teleporter: Non-functional. Clicking on the icon in the inventory "uses" the item and closes the window, but otherwise nothing happens, and the player's turn continues.

The Lasers in all their broken glory.

Laser: Shoots a multi-colored laser which wraps around the edges of the screen, often permanently corrupting the status bar in the process, and remains on-screen until other objects or explosions "overwrite" it. The beam is solid and can be hit with weapons, which sometimes causes dirt particles to fall out. The beam itself does not directly cause damage to other tanks; however, hitting a part of the beam that is the same color as another tank with a weapon may damage or destroy that tank. The Laser was officially made available in version 1.5, though its behavior was heavily altered.


Plasma Laser: Behaves similarly to the Laser, except the beam is thicker, colored black and red, does not wrap around screen edges, and cannot be hit with weapons. The palette rotates every time the weapon is fired, similar to explosions.


Popcorn Bomb: Seems to behave identically to the Funky Bomb.

(Source: BMF54123)

Version 1.2

Warp Shield
Teleport Shield
Super Mag
Patriot Missiles
Jump Jets
Popcorn Bomb
Plasma Laser

Version 1.2 removed the Laser and added four new items: Warp Shields, Teleport Shields, Super Mags, and Patriot Missiles. Super Mags would make their official debut in version 1.5. The game's author, Wendell Hicken, described how Patriot Missiles were intended to work in an Ars Technica interview:

As I mentioned in another post on this site, there were quite a few weirdnesses implemented which never made it into a final release. One of these was a new defensive system based on Patriot Missles. You could buy PMs, and decide at what range they would fire. Whenever a weapon entered the sphere of detection, the missile would take off and try to intercept the weapon. When it got close enough, it would explode and likely take out the weapon, or at least deflect its course. It sounded nifty, but somehow wasn't ever quite as much fun as it should have been.

Version 1.5

Jump Jets
Popcorn Bomb
Dirt Tower
Plasma Laser
Warp Shield
Teleport Shield
Flicker Shield
Patriot Missiles

Version 1.5 retained everything unused in 1.2 and added two new items: Dirt Towers and Flicker Shields.

(Source: Arcane (X-Cult))

Unused Text

AdLib Support

The string "AdLib" can be found amongst the options menu text at 0x2E439 (in 1.0) or 0x3FC1B (in 1.1), suggesting that AdLib support was considered. Additionally, the string "SOUND-DRIVER-AD-LIB" can be found at 0x138FB (in 1.0b), 0x3122A (in 1.0), or 0x42986 (in 1.1). Nothing appears to reference either of these within the executable. The only available sound options in all versions of the game are "ON" or "OFF", which apply solely to PC speaker sounds. Later versions removed these strings.

(Source: Divingkataetheweirdo, BMF54123)

Foreign Language Support


Additional languages appear to have been planned, but these strings from 1.1 are all that remain from that idea. They can be seen at 0x3FCFB. Judging by the fact that they're near the menu text, they were most likely meant to be part of a language selection option. The only official foreign language version of the game that is known to exist is a Spanish version of 1.2.

(Source: Divingkataetheweirdo)

Startup Menu Help Text

This is the startup menu. 
Click on buttons to make 
things happen. Press SPACE to start. 

If you read long enough, you will 
see a lot of things listed here, 
as I need to test a really really 
long help message to see if things 
are working, dont you know?


An unusual test message that was removed in 1.5, but is present in versions 1.0 (at 0x29EFB), 1.1 (at 0x3C251), and 1.2 (at 0x4A631). It seems to be a remnant of a scrapped in-game help system.

Help #%d of  0 thru %d (inclusive)
Help initialized to %d by %d
Help #%d
Left=%d, Top = %d

Additional bits of help-related debugging text can be found directly below the above message in versions 1.0 and 1.1. These were removed in version 1.2.

(Source: Divingkataetheweirdo, BMF54123)

Undocumented Cheat

Entering mayhem as a command-line argument will give all players 99 of every weapon and item, excluding Fuel Tanks and the unused items listed above.

(Source: BMF54123)

Revision Differences

To do:
Many more things can be added here.

Title Screen

Version 1.0b Version 1.0
Scorched Earth-1.0b title.png Scorched Earth-1.0 title.png
Version 1.1 Version 1.2
Scorched Earth-1.1 title.png Scorched Earth-1.2 title.png
Version 1.2S Version 1.5
Scorched Earth-1.2 Spanish title.png Scorched Earth-title.png
Version 1.5 Shareware
Scorched Earth-shareware title.png

Version 1.0b used the author's nickname, Sprig, and had a less organized menu. Version 1.0 would neatly relegate those options to the side, but Version 1.1 would make those buttons. "Weather" was merged with the "Landscape" menu in 1.2. A copyright was added in Version 1.0 and would be put outside the title screen picture in 1.5. The status of the version (shareware or registered) was also included on the title screen.


Version 1.0b

  • Only version 1.0b is freeware. All versions after that are shareware.
  • Several insults were removed from later versions, such as "Surf Nazis Must Die!", "Yippee Ki-yeh, Mother Fucker!", and "Sit on this, buttplug!".
  • Unlike later versions, the "No Kibitzing!!" and retreating dialogue boxes aren't centered. Instead, they're in the top-center.

Version 1.0

  • An icon was included.
  • As a result of the game going shareware, the player can press R in a shareware copy upon booting up to enter a registration code. There are also nag messages thrown in throughout the game if the player has not yet registered.

Version 1.1

  • From this version on, F1 can be used to open the system menu (in addition to Ctrl + Q). Ctrl + S is no longer functional.
  • Exclusive to version 1.1 is debugging functionality, which is enabled by entering DEBUGGING=monitor in SCORCH.CFG or something similar. By entering DEBUGGING=monitor, the player can use a secondary monochrome monitor in order to see this information. Note that it otherwise writes to another file.
  • A non-functional modem icon was added to the player creation menu, the only remnant of a planned netplay mode. This icon was removed in version 1.2 and beyond. The official Scorched Earth FAQ acknowledges its existence, and states that "modem support is not yet available".
  • Four weapons added: Napalm, Hot Napalm, Liquid Dirt and Smoke Tracers.
  • The player can sell unwanted items.
  • Joystick support is added.
  • The player can experience meteor showers.
  • The undocumented mayhem cheat is added.

Version 1.2

  • The score limit was increased significantly.
  • Synchronous firing mode was added.
  • Additional insults were added to the talk files.
  • Fixed a bug where the game would crash upon entering the registration password.
  • The player can see which type of tank was being played by computer opponents after the game has ended.
  • The endgame box is always properly sized.

Version 1.5

  • The registration nag before the game has fully started is removed and the player cannot enter a registration key. Instead, the player has to mail-order $10 to the author to get the registered version on a disk.
  • Photorealistic mountains were added.
  • Version 1.5 added the option to expand to 1024*768*256.
  • Foreign character support was included.
  • Lasers are included, as are Super Mags.
  • Gravis Gamepad support added.
  • Registered users can now access a seventh tank, the triple-turreted tank.
(Source: Official Scorched Earth FAQ)