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Scorched Earth is a popular shareware artillery video game, originally written by Wendell Hicken using Borland C++ and Turbo Assembler, in which tanks do turn-based battle in two-dimensional terrain, with each player adjusting the angle and power of his or her tank's turret cannon before each shot.

Things get interesting with a wide variety of power-ups players can purchase in between rounds, including batteries, Deflector Shields, warheads that can destroy the ground beneath your enemies (or create new ground on top of them), napalm, and conventional explosives of various sizes and stability. Love that Funky Bomb!

The spiritual predecessor of games like Worms Armageddon and Gunbound, Scorch (as it is known to fans) is the self-proclaimed "Mother of All Games", with a very simple presentation that is nevertheless addictive.

Scorched3D is the free 3D sequel available for all widespread OS and even included in Gentoo and Debian/Ubuntu Linux repositories.

For use of the "scorched earth" policy, see Salt the Earth.

Scorched Earth contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Death From Above: The "Vertical guidance system" causes a projectile to drop straight down onto its designated target area, even accounting for wind. Combined with a MIRV or "Death's Head"... well, There Is No Kill Like Overkill.
    • And then there are random meteorites and lightning strikes....
  • Famous Last Words: The game chooses one at random from a text file that users are free to edit.
  • Game Breaking Bug: Depending on which version of the game and which OS the user plays. For example, one bug caused the "battery" item to deplete HP instead of restoring it, forcing many an AI to retreat and self-destruct.
  • Geo Effects: Most explosions destroy terrain by default, but there is a decent variety of dirt-producing weapons (Dirt Balls and charges) that can be used to bury opponents; and a good variety dirt-clearing weapons, which can be used to dig through terrain without harming the user or their opponents.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: If you're not careful, you could off yourself with your own weapons. Especially if you're using the Death's Head, any form of the Sandhog, or the Funky Bomb.
  • Kill It with Fire: Napalm and Hot Napalm.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: The AI generally plays fair, but has access to a triple-turret tank that the player does not.
  • One Hit KO: Though a direct hit from just about any weapon will destroy an unshielded tank, a direct hit from a Sandhog or Napalm can destroy a tank even through heavy shielding.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner / Pre-Mortem One-Liner: There is also a file containing taunts the tanks can make before firing.
  • Selective Gravity: The player can control whether or not loose terrain falls to the ground during gameplay, which changes the usefulness of dirt-producing weapons.
  • Shout-Out: Many of the One Liners.
  • Taking You with Me: Some of the ways to die can result in this. Even if you weren't planning on it, going out with a bang like a Funky Bomb and taking out four opponents is very satisfying.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Some of the weapons are extremely devastating: The aptly-named "Death's Head", for example, can simultaneously destroy most of the terrain on the field and all players in one use, including the person who fired it.
    • Against an unshielded tank, even the Baby Missile (the free, default weapon) can kill with a single direct hit. All the more powerful weapons (That is, anything that actually does damage) are thusly various flavors of overkill.
  • Trope Maker: For Turn-Based Artillery Shooters (with Worms as the Trope Codifier)
  • Unpredictable Results: The Funky Bomb. It can nail multiple opponents or miss everything, do no damage with a direct hit or wipe out a target with a full Heavy Shield. Ditto with the various forms of the Sandhog, except that if it does connect, it's an Insta-Kill.
    • Tank deaths are completely random, and based on weapon effects. One tank can die with a very small and sad sizzle, while the next can take out a mountain (and anyone on it) with a full nuke-sized blast.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Players that do well and get more kills are awarded more money, to buy better equipment. Being able to buy better equipment, especially shields, makes a player much harder to kill and makes it much easier to kill other players. A player that loses will have to be damn creative with the weaker weapons to catch up... but if they were that good, they probably wouldn't be losing.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: There's nothing like covering an opponent with dirt, waiting while he painstakingly digs himself a tunnel to the surface, and then filling that tunnel with napalm.