Insert Disk collects Jurassic Park for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis.
Today’s retro game review is Jurassic Park for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis. This retro gaming classic acted as an initial movie tie in game for the Jurassic Park movie. You control either Grant or one of the Raptors on their various missions. Grant must restore power to the park and ultimately escape whist as the raptor its your job to hunt down Grant for some good eating. Jurassic Park the game is very well presented but somehow lacks the feel of the movie with notable absences from almost all of the main cast. In terms of game play though it is still worth exploring this one.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. It’s been a while since we looked at a movie to game release. Join me today as we look back at one of the biggest movies of all time to receive the treatment with Jurassic Park for the Sega Mega Drive.Now it’s fair to say that when someone mentions movie to game adaptations, you shouldn’t get your hopes up too high and I’ll warn you that this is perhaps the best way to approach this game.
Like many of us I grew up fascinated by dinosaurs. There’s just a universal interest and appreciation of these magnificent creatures of the prehistoric world. So when Jurassic Park the movie landed in 1993 there was very much dinosaur mania for movie goers. With Steven Spielberg directing and solid cast of leading actors such as Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough the movie was always going to be a monster hit. Set this against world leading special effects and a plot already based on a bestselling novel by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park became one of the best known movies of the decade. IMDB also informs us that box office receipts topped the billion dollar mark globally. Anyway, the movie was fantastic and still has an 8/10 rating on IMDB. The characters were memorable, the dinosaurs were believable and to this day a generation of movie goers can’t hear the phrase “Clever Girl” without thinking about raptors.
So, with the worlds focus on dinosaurs and Jurassic Park a game was released to accompany the piles of movie related merchandise.
This effort developed by Blue Sky and published by Sega is a bit of a mixed bag in my opinion. There’s clearly a lot to like in here but also quite a bit to frustrate you as a gamer and fan of the movie. The game gives you the option of playing as Grant or a Raptor which in itself offers two very different experiences. As Grant the human option your task is very much in line with the movie to find safety and escape by taking down dinosaurs when needed. You have a decent enough inventory of tranquiliser darts and gas canisters. This is a little different to the movie but let’s face it you’re going to need some offensive weapons if you intend to take on dinosaurs one on one. Along the way you will work your way out of the jungle. This can be easier said than done, at times there are the classic leaps of faith to reach the next platform. Take here for example, there’s a springy ledge to bounce on. Now most gamers will do as I did and use it as a trampoline to the next platform. Wrong, this just led to a comical death.
Generally you will be encountering dinosaurs very frequently and there is some skill to neutralising them to progress. In real life one claw slash from a raptor would probably disembowel you. However, the game is much more forgiving and Grant can square up to most enemies and take a bit of a beating before you really run in to any critical life bar problems. It would be unfair to say that the platforming elements are bad, it’s just that they will take some time to get used to. This waterfall level for example. You get on the raft, navigate forwards… and are met with a horrible death. It’s only by trial and error you learn that you have to accelerate over the waterfalls to not fall down them. The other issue here is tying this back in to the movie plot. I won’t go in to detail here but let’s just say that very little of movie is spent with Grant running around in the sewer pipes with this Brachiosaurus or running around an active volcano. Key scenes such as the T-Rex chase would have been nice to see but it would also have been difficult to see how this would have been done in a way that fits the rest of the game. As a compromise I think we can agree that the developers made a game with one of the main movie characters and made him run through dinosaur themed levels.
Still, who wants to play as Sam Neill when you can play as a raptor? This is where perhaps most of us were drawn when we picked up this game. The promise of running around as a scaly chicken-like killing machine. To tell the truth, playing as the raptor is perhaps more fun but again not without some compromises. As the raptor your goal is… well it’s whatever raptors do. Nominally the game is set up that you are hunting down Grant who almost always seems to escape at the last moment. The raptor can run, pounce, jump comically high and take other dinosaurs and army out with a single slash. There’s far less strategy in the raptor game save for some simple puzzles but overall more fun than Grant’s run through. As with Grant’s game you’ll start in the jungle but then go on to the power station, the pumping station, the visitors center and of course the newly created volcano level because volcanoes are cool (and let’s face it the game also needed a little bit of padding).
For the most part playing as the raptor will pose you no significant issues. Every now and again though there are almost impossible jumps to make which can get quite frustrating after a while. If it seems that I can’t make up my mind on this game it’s because I really can’t decide if it’s a game that I could recommend. If the movie never existed than this would be a fairly decent average platform action game. However, as a movie tie in it has to at least either support the movie of fill in extra back story in my opinion. If it doesn’t complement the franchise then it just screams cash in. As much as I’d like to be cynical and tell you that I simply don’t fully believe it is. For a start the graphics and sound effects are really decent. The game utilised props and motion capture from the movies. The cut scenes help keep the tone in line with the movie and I can feel a sincere thread in here that the developers wanted the game to be as good as it could be. On the other claw though there are some unforgivable concessions.
Firstly, why no extended cast? I understand that a single protagonist makes sense but why not have had any of the other characters in the game to help support the story? I don’t think any gamers will have an issue with Grants character in the game. However, there are other options here such as including Muldoon to track down the raptors. Secondly, the music. Now, John Williams Jurassic Park theme is synonymous with the movie and the franchise in general. It’s orchestral, moving and sums up the grandeur of seeing dinosaurs walk the Earth again after 65 million years.
We don’t get this from the game though. We get this as the opening theme. It gets worse, here are some of the tunes selected for the in game levels. I just don’t get it. It almost makes you conclude that the developers didn’t have the rights to use the likenesses of the cast and certainly weren’t given the rights to the soundtrack. For a movie tie in these things are pretty much a given as this is an officially licenced release.
The physical presentation has all of the licencing elements spot on. The case, cartridge and manual all carry the distinctive Jurassic Park logo. From what I’ve read the game also sold a decent amount of copies and was generally well received for a movie tie in. Well enough at least to receive a follow up game Jurassic Park Rampage edition and also a Lost World sequels (games for another time I think).
So, there you have it, Jurassic Park for the Sega Mega Drive. If you enjoy mid 90’s platformers with a dinosaur theme then you are in for a decent experience with this one. However, it never reaches the point of being an outstanding game, if the Jurassic Park logo wasn’t associated with this release I dare say this one would have been forgotten by now. It’s clear that some compromises were made here. Whilst the game only loosely follows the movie plot this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The 2D format lends itself well to the intentions of the game and overall I had a positive experience playing this one back in the day. Despite the obvious detractors there is still a lot to enjoy here and well worth picking up if you get the chance.