The Steven Spielberg blockbuster is now in the palm of your hand. Welcome to Jurassic Park where you, as Dr Alan Grant find yourself on the bottom of the food chain! The dinosaurs have escaped and are running rampant across Isla Nublar’s 5 perilous levels. Can you survive the slashing claws and deadly jaws of the park’s star attractions and restore order to Jurassic Park, or will you become dino lunch?
Jurassic Park – Sega Game Gear
With its varied environments, selectable weapon system and non-linear level format, Jurassic Park does a respectable job of attempting to translate the big screen (and novel) to the small screen. The game has a moderate difficulty but after learning the strategies needed to clear all five levels, players may not be biting at the bit for another visit to Jurassic Park once they have beaten the game.
Jurassic Park Review
HOLD ON TO YOUR BUTTS
The author Michael Crichton conceived Jurassic Park and his novel entered the world in 1990.
Jurassic Park is a techno thriller that serves as the ultimate cautionary tale about humanity meddling with genetics. The story is about a company named InGen who find a way to clone dinosaurs using the DNA present within prehistoric mosquitoes preserved in amber. What better way to present their discovery to the world? By monetising it in the form of a theme park, of course! Enter Jurassic Park: an island in the Pacific Ocean, purpose built to be the ultimate nature preserve. Sadly, Murphy’s Law (or is it Chaos Theory?) makes itself known, and it isn’t long until nature shows how red in tooth and claw it truly is. Things quickly become a frantic scramble for survival for the humans trapped on the island.
The Franchise of Jurassic Park
It’s absolutely no wonder that Steven Spielberg saw the potential to adapt this idea to the big screen. In mid 1993, the seemingly perfect intersection of practical effects and CGI technology, blew audiences away and Jurassic Park stomped its way onto cinema screens around the world, breaking box office records.
Love it or hate it; with incredible success, comes the inevitable franchise marketing. As a kid in 1993, I was clamouring for anything and everything Jurassic Park and boy did they deliver! From the remarkable Kenner action figure line of humans, dinosaurs and vehicles, magazines with behind-the-scenes glimpses and additional lore, t-shirts featuring the stunning art of Mark McCreery – being able to experience the action of Jurassic Park in video game form was the cherry on the cake for fans.
History of the Jurassic park games
SEGA CS R&D developed Jurassic Park for the Sega Game Gear. Fans were fortunate enough for Jurassic Park to grace each of Sega’s consoles at the time, with each platform receiving a different style of game. Whilst the Mega CD version adopted more of a point and click adventure compared to the Mega Drive’s action-packed side-scroller.
The Master System and Game Gear versions take inspiration from the latter, except for a playable Velociraptor, which was certainly a standout feature on its 16-bit counterpart.
So, what’s different between the 8-bit versions? Very little. Apart from the player character looking less Dr Grant and more Dr Sattler in the Game Gear iteration, Jurassic Park is largely the same game.
All I can imagine is that deadlines for video game tie-ins that dictate releasing the title on or as close to the film’s cinematic release as possible. This meant the designers may not have had access to Dr Grant’s appearance in the film and went with their own interpretation at the time. Why does Dr Grant sport his signature blue shirt and white hat in the Master System version though when both games are almost identical? Was it a last second change they couldn’t manage to get onto the GG at the time?
We may never know.
Cosmetic changes notwithstanding, Jurassic Park on the Game Gear puts you squarely into the shoes of Dr Alan Grant. It appears the computers have gone haywire and cloned prehistoric beasties are loose. You are tasked with travelling to the initial first four locations on the island to capture each end of level ‘boss’ dino. All courtesy of an interactive map at the start of each level that lets the player choose the region you want to tackle first in whichever order you like. Neat!
LEVELS of Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park is located on the fictional tropical island of Isla Nublar located 120 miles (ca. 193 kilometres) West of Costa Rica. Named so due to a permanent shroud of mist that drapes the island. The locale itself lends to different terrain which is represented well in the game.
You’ll venture across the towering forest tree tops, volcanic caves, forests in the midst of a lightning storm and even across the artificial lake that makes up the famed ‘Sauropod Swamp’ in a life raft which is a nice little nod to the novel. The initial part of each level is the driving stage, where Dr Grant takes a petrol-powered Jeep on a drive to the location you’ve picked on the map.
This phase resembles a shooting gallery style of gameplay where the player controls a cursor onscreen and you need to defend yourself and your vehicle from various attacking dinosaurs coming to give you a bad day. Just mind the bumps (in fact, something interesting may happen when you shoot them) and get ready for a boss fight at the end of each driving sequence!
I do like how the vehicle model sustains damage the more it gets hit and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the mangled mess Dr Grant vacates at the end of the level. A enjoyable touch for sure.
For anyone who has played the Mega Drive version of Jurassic Park, it’s no secret the developers BlueSky invested heavily in motion capture for the player model of Dr Grant. This gave the game added realism as Grant jumped, crawled and ran through the locales of Isla Nublar. Leave him standing long enough and he lifts his shoe in a nice nod towards the Trike poop scene of the film.
Although the Game Gear version of Jurassic Park lacks the horsepower to take advantage of these technical effects. You can see the developers took note of Grant’s movement and applied it to this version. Grant can also crawl and vault over obstacles just as well as his 16-bit counterpart. This ability makes scaling ledges and traversing obstacles relatively painless.
Hit detection is on the money (unlike the 16-bit version which can lead to some frustrating platforming) and the weapons keep things diverse enough for the player. Pressing pause will bring up the inventory screen, allowing Grant to use collectible first aid kits and select between three weapons which each behave very differently.
The tranquilliser rifle is the default weapon and fires in an arc straight ahead of the player. The ‘stun gun’ is more like a rocket launcher that fires in a straight, diagonal line. Holding the fire button down will delay the explosion, which shoots out horizontally to the left and right of the rocket. The aptly named fireball grenade is just that – a canister that erupts in a vertical wall of fire. Grant can lob the grenade higher when holding up while throwing. The weapon’s system is a welcome touch as no single weapon is unstoppable. You do need to switch up to make use of each weapon’s strengths. Oh, and did I mention you get unlimited ammunition for each type?
Overall, I think Jurassic Park on the Game Gear has definitely done its best to capture the feel of the film and even the novel. The opening intro cut scene (always a welcome addition in an 8-bit title) does an impressive job job at setting the scene with its haunting score. Speaking of which, the still images you get after beating each of the boss characters are animated nicely. The music throughout the game certainly has some catchy little tunes filled with pep and charm that go from somber to energetic. This certainly adds to the action and tension. Yes, the sound is lacking in some parts like the dinosaur roar when you press Start. Thankfully though the devs have recognised this and kept these to a minimum.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE JURASSIC PARK GAME
What could have been a sloppy mess of a cash-in was made with heart, and you can see the developers have made the best of the system’s limitations, whilst still trying to incorporate the features of its 16-bit bigger brother where they could. The decent controls coupled with the variety of two gameplay types per level, along with the strategy the weapons system brings into the fold, stops the game from becoming overly repetitive on your first play through. Many (bar high score chasers) may not be impressed with the game’s overall replay-ability.
Call me a biased JP fan, but Jurassic Park on the 8-bit systems certainly has a special place in my heart.
A decent variety in locales coupled with some nice background details in the driving sections do make you feel like you are smack bang in Jurassic Park. Not terribly impressed with the player model after being spoiled by Dr Grant’s representation in the Master System version, but it does the job. Although oddly coloured, the excellent details of the boss characters look the part. You get the odd slowdown during certain sections, but it isn’t enough to hamper the experience.
The intro sequence coupled with the post boss sequences do an outstanding job of setting the scene of the game. I consider the ending as a nice alternative as it is very different from that of the film and novel!
Dr Alan Grant controls quite well. Movement and jumping is responsive and you feel like a human without being overly slow or hampered by player model detection issues that plague Grant throughout this game’s 16-bit counterpart.
You are looking at around 30 minutes through to completion. Perhaps a little more to new players of the game. Once you get your head around weapon combinations and each boss’ nuances, you shouldn’t have much of a problem blasting your way through Isla Nublar and restoring the park.
I would class the game as easy to moderate. Each enemy has a pattern and for those that are patient, you should be able to pick the appropriate weapon for each scenario. The driving section can also be very rewarding for the player if you know what to look for, with opportunities to lengthen your health bar and earn extra lives.
WHEN WAS JURASSIC PARK RELEASED?
Developed by Sega Consumer Research & Development and was released in 1993.
WHAT DOES JURASSIC PARK COST?
Jurassic Park is common for the Game Gear and loose versions should cost around £8 to £10.
HOW DO I PLAY JURASSIC PARK?
The d-pad moves the player character or target cursor. Button 1 uses your equipped weapon, Button 2 jumps and Start enters the inventory menu.