Tuesday, July 7, 2015

VGR Jurassic Park (SNES)

Jurassic Park is frightening in the dark,

All the dinosaurs are running wild!-

God creates dinosaur. God destroys dinosaur. God creates man. Man creates Jurassic Park!

VGR: Jurassic Park (SNES) 
From Ocean Software/Jaleco (JP)
Played on SNES
Also available on /

Type Top-down shooter/first person shooter 
Year 1993

Over the years there's been dozen of video games based on the Jurassic Park franchise. Most of those released in between the release of the original Jurassic Park 1 and The Lost World.

Since the screenplay of a movie can be stretched so far, a lot of those games often used elements Steven Spielberg cut from Michael Crichton's original novels. Which was always a neat plus, I always loved the presence the aviary had over several of these games despite only getting screentime in the later Jurassic Park 3! But since the developers rarely stuck to using dinosaurs as the main villains of these games, you also often spent most of those games fighting InGen stock soldiers...

There was a pretty straightforward split over the franchise depending on the game consoles you owned. Ocean Software got to develop the games on Nintendo's systems while Sega took care of their own games in-house, and Universal Interactive/DreamWorks Interactive would take care of the other consoles.

Despite sharing the same overall structure and most of the basic ideas as the NES Jurassic Park game, the Super Nintendo game came out an entirely different product.

For the most part, it's also a top-down action game, that is.. for half of the game.

Like the NES game, the plot of this game sticks pretty close to Michael Crichton's novel rather than the movie. 

Like the film the story takes place before of the opening of the actual park. After an accident Alan Grant ends up stranded alone and he now has to make it out alive and escape from Jurassic Park.

But it's dangerous to go outside, the dinos are now roaming free on the island! 

Similar to its 8-bit cousin, the game begins around the gates. From there on Alan Grant must open new areas, survive the Tyrannosaurus Rex and collect/destroy the various Velociraptor eggs before reaching the helicopter!

The game takes you through a few key scenes from the novel, like going inside a volcano to locate the Raptors' nest.

While the big structure seems identical, Ocean developed two different distinct Jurassic Park games optimized for the different systems. If the NES/GB was more of an action/adventure title, the SNES wants to go for a more traditional adventure game (similar to the Zelda series), yet it ends up the more action/shooter game of the two.

The goal is still the same - to escape the island. But now the stages are basically replaced by this large open world. Controlling Alan Grant from a top-down perspective, you get to freely explore all these open areas. At first a lot of the environment is blocked to you. You need to access a few keycards or unlock some computers to move forward.

As you play the game there's a few goals to complete. All kinds of objectives like turning the power back on, accessing computer terminals, finding a way to open gates or bridges.

All these dinosaurs are roaming around freely. You can find a few types of guns to defend yourself, starting with an electro-shock gun that recharge automatically without the need of ammo, you can then find a rocket launcher, a grenade launcher, a shotgun and more! To help you face nearby incoming dinosaurs you can activate motion detectors from time to time.

Once you get inside a location, in the Visitors Center or some other building, the gameplay switches to a first person view. That's right, about two years the SNES received its own adaptation of Doom, Jurassic Park already offered an old school 3D exploration like Wolfenstein 3D on a 16-bit console. Those segments feature the same creatures, and you can use the same weapons. These levels are often spread through different floors and you need to find elevators to move around. It can be quite disorienting at first sight. Some rooms will also require night vision googles (because Tim used night vision googles than one time).

The game is pretty difficult and quite confusing at first. Raptors can basically kill you instantaneously if you're not prepared to face them. Annoying advices/messages keep popping up on full screen. The various objectives can get quite overwhelming when you start up the game, like turning the power back on, activating generators, finding keys or locating all the eggs. Also the game could really use a map....

You will see the (badass) Game Over screen many times on a first playthrough, believe me.

The main issue with this game is that it feels like two radically different games mashed together into one. The outside world looks great, detailed and authentic to the JP franchise. Meanwhile indoors feel a lot more contrived, lacking animations and varied environments. It just drags the whole thing down, looks poorly pixelated and it's so slow... and clunky...

Fun fact; the game even supports the use of the SNES mouse for the FPS segments, which explains why it was that slow to begin with. It even makes the interactions on computer terminals far easier to control.

The music composed by Jonathan Dunn sounds pretty weird actually. They went for a whole atmospheric angle, instead of a proper soundtrack. While this kind of experimental soundtrack had its fair share of fans back in the day, it sounds really off while playing the game. Audio in this game is barely passable. Murky sounds and muffled music. Half the tracks are decent and dramatic, but the rest of the atmosphere is just silent and odd creepy eerie sounds that never seem to fit Jurassic Park. Like most games, we're so far off the original score of the film...

Overall, it's an okay game adaptation, but it's barely there... 

On a first glimpse it seems so much better than the NES and Game Boy versions, but it's just a messy game. The game will last you only about two hours to complete if you know what to do. There are 18 raptor eggs to find. No save feature, which means you need to complete this in on sitting.

The graphics are colorful for half of the game, but it's just a really confusing experience. It can feel either too easy if you know where to go next, or you might get quickly frustrated by the way the game leaves you survive with these impossible odds.

I believe the 3D segments were a nice idea, but they're badly implemented in this game.

Check it Out only if you're a huge fan of the series or a completionist like me. If there's one redeemable quality about this game is that at least it's short.
I give it:
1.5 / 3 Bruces!

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