By now it is common knowledge that a movie tie-in game generally does not work. Just that thought is as prehistoric as the video game industry is old, but then Jurassic Park launched on the Mega Drive to prove that dinosaurs can still save the day.
Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming
What makes this game unique is that it’s split into two parts. One where you play as Dr Alan Grant, and the other where you tear through the game as a Velociraptor. When playing as Dr Grant the game kicks off at that iconic moment in the movie where the T-Rex bashes through the fence and lays waste to the colourful off-road vehicle. You get to play the action adventure platformer as Dr Grant in his efforts to make it to the visitor centre. That’s however where most similarities come to an end, and the game is the better for it.
Once waking up in his demolished vehicle Dr Grant will run, jump and shoot his way through seven unique levels. Each level brings with it something unique. At one point you’re dealing with valve puzzles, the next you’re in a rubber duck boat and before you know it you’re face-to-face with the T-Rex that’s been causing you so much trouble. Though Dr Grant can shoot animals he can at no point kill them.
In your inventory you’ll find a tranquiliser gun, a stun gun, flash grenades, gas grenades and a device that shoots out charged shots of electricity (similar to a taser, but not quite the same thing). Shoot a dino and it’ll immediately hit the deck. That said, when you encounter your first Velociraptor (on the second stage) you’re in for a little surprise as it’ll fall down immediately from one shot, but will stand up shortly afterwards to terrorise you. The plan here is to inject him with about four or five tranquiliser shots to keep him at bay for a little while longer. They’ll also time their jumps to avoid your shots, meaning you waste valuable darts. Though the dinos provide a big threat to Dr Grant and his ambition to make it to the Jurassic Park visitor centre, it’s the platforming that poses the greatest danger.
Brain over brawn
From beginning to end your biggest failures in meeting the Game Over screen will likely come from bad platforming choices or simply now knowing that ‘that last platformer right before the exit would sink into lava’. The developers were cruel, but that’s exactly what made these older games so special. It’s a game that requires you to have decent skills and combining it with your memory to recall events that should be avoided. Thankfully there’s a password system in place to help you finish the game. On the other hand you can of course play as the Velociraptor.
As the Raptor you’ll be sniffing out the scent of Dr Grant with your main mission being to bring an end to that bastard of a human who caged you in. You’ll experience five unique levels developed purely to experience the game from the point of view of a Velociraptor. He can jump much higher and to recuperate some health you merely eat smaller dinosaurs. Humans are the big enemies and can shoot or shock you from a distance, but overall the pace of the game is much quicker when playing this mode. Unfortunately your game will be over before you know it when playing as the Raptor, but it’s still a grand little bonus which would have been considered DLC in the modern age.
A playthrough of both campaigns will last just over an hour if you know what you’re doing, but newbies can expect it to keep them busy for well over five hours. The graphics and sound quality is pretty good, considering the age, and creates quite an atmosphere. Who will ever forget the T-Rex popping up and mouthing off ‘SEEEEGAAA’ just as any T-Rex would? Those were the days.
The developers were cruel, but that’s exactly what made these older games so special.
Jurassic Park was the perfect game in an era when side-scrolling action adventure platformers ruled the world. It’s aged well because it was considered an ‘easy’ game back then. Play it today and by current standards it doesn’t quite feel as prehistoric. No, it feels quite modern and is a game that should be experienced by fans of the original movie.