Genre: Action Developer: BlueSky Software Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1 Released: 1993
Let’s face it: everybody likes dinosaurs. After all, lots of them are big, fast, and vicious, and we humans have an innate fascination with any form of life that can so easily make mincemeat out of us. Steven Spielberg took advantage of our love affair with the beasts through his grand sci-fi flick, Jurassic Park; now the Genesis game, which is really only loosely based on the movie, tries its luck.
Jurassic Park is just your average action game, nothing more, nothing less. There are a few gameplay twists, but the end result is something you’ve seen before, albeit with dinos instead of regular human baddies and darts/tasers instead of the usual guns. The only connection with the movie is that you get to play as Dr Grant or the raptor in levels which are somewhat reminiscent of the settings of the movie.
Despite its lack of innovation, Jurassic Park is still a fun game. A bit short, maybe, but still fun. If you choose to play as Grant (which seems to be the harder and better of the two quests) you progress through six or seven levels with your trusty weapons in hand, trying to get to the end of each level. Funnily enough, none of your weapons are lethal, with the exception of the rocket launcher. Most of your weapons (which include tranks, gas grenades, flashbangs, tasers, and more) merely incapacitate the dinos. This is bad – the raptors, which will become synonymous with “pain-in-the-asses,” gradually develop an immunity to tranks – and so you’ll have to keep moving and watch your back. As Grant you climb, jump, run, and grunt your way through the levels, avoiding or taking out copious numbers of dinosaurs and looking for those precious med kits. Grant’s quest also has him pilot rafts and perform a few difficult maneuvers to evade the nasty dinos. Speaking of which, there are a wide variety, from little ankle-nipping Compies to quick, fierce raptors and poison-spitting Dilophosaurs. The T-rex makes an obligatory entrance or two but the raptors are your real threat.
It’s fitting enough, then, that your second quest has you play as the raptor! What fun! Well, there’s really little strategy involved, just fierce and fast gameplay, but the quest still manages to be exciting and enjoyable. The raptor has one or two levels fewer to go through than Grant, and the levels are modified: instead of climbing ladders or floating in rafts, most levels simply consist of more-or-less level ground with a few platforms to jump onto; all the better to show the capabilities of the raptor, which can leap huge distances vertically or horizontally and run with frightening speed. Of course, the raptor can also take out most enemies with a flick of the wrist, or, in its case, the third toe. The raptor’s enemies are mostly Compies (who are really just walking health-restorers, just begging to be eaten) and humans, who are aimed at first with small stun-guns but later with rockets and other nasties.
This game truly is short and sweet. You can literally finish it in a few hours or less, so the “password” feature isn’t very useful. You’ll have fun while playing it, though, and the change between slow, weapon-using Grant and fast, powerful, raptor is a pretty fun one. My only peeve is that there is a huge difficulty difference between the two quests – with Dr Grant, you can fall to your death, you have a mobility disadvantage, and the raptors/other enemies are hard to take down and then get back up again quickly; with the raptor, you just run and jump around disemboweling various people (who would be better described as “obstacles”) without a care in the world. Still, both quests are quite fun and fancy-free.
The environments are pretty well drawn, and there is a good contrast between the lush green of the jungle and the arid red of the canyon and the volcano (hmm, I don’t remember such settings in the movie!). The dinosaurs are very well done; they move fluently (especially the raptor) and do look quite menacing. The ubiquitous Compies also add a little bit of atmosphere, and the T-Rex, although virtually useless as far as gameplay goes, does rear its ugly head for a good scare. You’ll also have a good laugh when you launch a rocket at a compy and it literally gets blown to bits; it seems for a moment the developers forgot about the “non-lethal” aspect of the weapons. Anyway, the weapon effects are quite good.
The nice graphics are complemented by the audio: the John Williams theme music is unfortunately absent, but the music is still nice and catchy throughout. The Canyon and Visitor’s Centre music is particularly good – menacing and fast-paced techno music. Add to the music the frightening snarls of the raptors and authentic roar of the T-Rex and you get a nice, freaky combination that adds a good deal of adrenaline into an already fast-paced game.
Only one thing really hurts Jurassic Park: it’s simply too short. While it may be fun while it lasts, you probably won’t go back and play the game once you’ve finished; even if you do, the game only takes a few hours at most to finish. The levels are short and not overly hard, and there are only six or seven of them for each quest. There are no other modes other than the single-player quest, and even the inclusion of separate paths for Dr Grant and the raptor can’t hide the fact that this game just passes a bit too quickly.
This would be great, if found cheap. It’s short and sweet, with very little strategy required (the lone exception being Grant’s River level, which requires quick thinking and strategy but which can get a bit frustrating). The visuals and sound match the fun, frantic gameplay perfectly. While the game is neither innovative nor brilliant in any aspect, it’s still solid and fun while it lasts. The inclusion of slightly different levels and enemies (and thus playing styles) for Dr Grant and the raptor prolongs the game a bit, but more importantly, adds a good twist into what might be regarded as too rigid of a game. In any case, while you won’t play this game for more than a week or two, it’s still a solid, fun diversion. Little tykes will love this game just for the dinos, but the rest of us can still manage to eke out a few hours of good fun.
SCORE: 7 out of 10