Any time you see a success on film, a company will try to replicate that same experience in a video game. Sometimes its amazing, like GoldenEye. Sometimes its a train wreck, like Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game. And sometimes it’s all over the place, like Jurassic Park.
Lets take a trip 65 million years into the past to the 90’s and look at some of my favorite Jurassic Park games.
Jurassic Park NES / Game Boy
In the early 90’s, the 8-bit era was in full swing. During that time, it was common to release a game on both the NES and the Game Boy. Jurassic Park was not an exception. They also release a Super Nintendo version, which we will talk about later. The Amiga version of Jurassic Park borrowed elements from both, although the Nintendo versions were closer to the book than the movies.
The NES/Game Boy versions of Jurassic Park are arcade style games. While you do travel a great deal and venture all over the park, it often puts you into situations in that old school mini game formula. Remember Dodging those triceratops to save Tim? I sure as hell do. The game also asks you to collect dino eggs, although I’m not sure why. Probably for points.
One of the most memorable parts of Jurassic Park NES is the music. It really gets you pumped, and for good reason. Its such a close knock off to Martin Galway’s Cosmic Bakery that even Vanilla Ice would sue.
Jurassic Park NES is a pretty legit game. Its tough as nails, but still leaves you feeling like you can get past those stupid triceratops this time!!! ARGH.
Jurassic Park SNES
You know when they show a game that was made for Xbox 360, but then show the PS4 version of it and its worlds apart? Back in 1993, Jurassic Park for the Super Nintendo was just that. The console was coming up to its 3rd birthday. On the heels of Star Fox and just before Donkey Kong Country, Jurassic Park SNES took a movie title and made an amazing game.
There isn’t much in the way of plot exposition, the game just shows a map of the island as you arrive and it spins to simulate your…spiral decent. And then you land. And then the music starts. In 4 channel Dolby. Which is both amazing, as the music fades into a different song as you enter a new area, and goddamn terrifying as you enter into a building and hear velociraptors screaming behind you. Thats because, when you enter a building or building like object (like a cave, duh) you switch to first person mode. It looks great, the draw distance is perfect, and the music belongs in a horror film. I am not joking, I wouldn’t play this game alone at night. No way. No friggin way.
There is an overhead view on the world map, and you can visit all the parts of the park you read about. Including the boat and raptor nests. With limited exposition, you’re really sort of forced to find your own way. Unfortunately, you can’t save. So if you’re like me, the first time you beat this game was probably the first time you left your Super Nintendo on for 48+ hours. Looking at Youtube, most speed runners can knock it out in just under an hour. But speed runners know everything, including tricks to speed you up. Bad move on the save option Ocean, bad move.
I later learned a “helpful tip” to beat the game. Scattered across the map are the letters DR HORNER. If you follow the letters in order, it’s supposed to help you escape. I don’t know how you’re supposed to know where the letters are in the first place, but if you’re like me you were making maps the whole time.
Despite all its flaws, Jurassic Park SNES is the best Jurassic Park game ever made.
Jurassic Park Genesis
Meanwhile, on the Genesis. Remember, this is peak Console Wars time for Nintendo and SEGA. While Ocean pushed the bar with Jurassic Park SNES, SEGA decided to take a different approach. Or rather, Blue Sky Software decided to take the classic approach. Having a history of “Advertisement Games” , they decided to just make a random platformer where you hop around and shoot dinosaurs and dodge traps for no explainable reason. Its only a Jurassic Park game in name.
The cool SEGA twist added to this version was your ability to play as a Velociraptor. Which, I admit, was cool at the time. “Nintendo wouldn’t let you eat people as a dinosaur! SEGA RULES!” kids would exclaim. Perception is everything in this industry. But JP SNES was mos def the adult one (I’M TELLING YOU, DON’T PLAY IT AT NIGHT BY YOURSELF!)
Jurassic Park Game Gear
There are two major points about this game. First, I have no idea who made it. Does Amblin have an in house studio that made a Game Gear Jurassic Park game? Did SEGA make it? Who knows. Secondly, this is the game that should have been on the Genesis. Everything about this game is well done. In fact, it has the best intro of all the games we’ve talked about AND it has animated still shot cut scenes. You actually know who you are and what you’re doing.
Basically you’re the Rambo to the clean up crew on Isla Nublar. Your mission is to recapture the dinos and get the park back on track. There are 5 areas of the park you have to fix, and each is creative in its own way. At the beginning of each area, there is a driving sequence similar to a light gun experience. You’re supposed to be defending your jeep as dinosaurs are hurled at it from space. And its not really you defending so much as the omniscient 3rd person guarding your soul. You’re greeted at the end with a mini boss, which usually isn’t too much trouble. The graphics on these levels are great, and the fast paced action definitely gets you hyped to get some dinos.
Each level is based on a different dino and area of the park, so each has a different theme. They all play like a Contra style platformer, which is rad. You have 3 weapons that you can switch up on the fly, which makes for quick puzzle and boss solving. Once all the boss dinos are captured, the park can reopen and you make all the children (and young at heart!) happy. The end.
SEGA somehow managed to allow this game, the hack version on Genesis, and the point and click SEGA CD version all exist, but do yourself a favor and go for this one.
Jurassic Park Builder Facebook
This is Jurassic Park Farmville. I don’t know what I expected.
Jurassic Park Arcade 1993
This game. This game ate up most of my quarters as a kid. Besides Crusin World, Jurassic Park Arcade were basically the only cool games at my local arcade. Of course they had laser tag, and that was the main reason I went. Jurassic Park Arcade also took more than the average machine, 75 cents if I remember correctly. But it was worth it, sitting in that plastic jeep with your gun in hand, driving across the island doing ridiculous things. This game was absurd. You weren’t really in a jeep, but rather a bouncy ball that bounced from one perilous situation to the next. If you happen to chance upon this classic dame, take her for a whirl. You’ll be glad you did.
Jurassic Park Arcade 2015
Jurassic Park : The Next Generation is what you would call this if it were a cartoon reboot. This time, its xtreme! All of the dinos have xtreme names like “Tricera” and “Spino” and “T-Rex”. I know what you’re thinking: “T-Rex is his regular name!” Well he is xtreme with his xtreme drop kicking robot legs that he has because why the hell not.
This game looks great. Sure its campy, but its an arcade shooter and they all are. It’s a great looking machine with good looking game play. And lets be honest, any time a new arcade machine is created should be cause for celebration. I haven’t played this one yet, but rest assured I’m on the lookout.
And thats my list. I know I left a few games out, and its mostly because I never played them and/or they were garbage out the gate. That being said, I am looking forward to playing LEGO Jurassic World, a LEGO game that covers all 4 movies EVEN THOUGH Jurassic World is a direct sequel to Jurassic Park and pretends the other two never existed.
Check out our reviews of Jurassic World here and here, and as an appetizer check out some easter dino eggs.