Jurassic Park – SNES
Jurassic Park blew my freaking mind when I first saw it in movie theaters when it released in 1993. I was 8 years old and for the time, the CGI was amazing and still holds up really well today. Dinosaurs were already awesome, but now we saw incredibly realistic ones trying to kill humans while *SPOILER ALERT* paleontologists Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler are invited to visit this theme park where a rich guy found dinosaur DNA in fossilized mosquitoes, began cloning full sized ones, and thought “What could go wrong? I should bring my grandkids along, too!” Jeff Goldblum was there to point out crap that could go wrong, Samuel L. Jackson told everyone to “Hold onto your butts”, and Newman from Seinfeld (Wayne Knight) bumbled his way to a close encounter with a Dilophosaurus-y death while trying to sell the dino embryos to the Black Market. It was an awesome movie, and if you haven’t seen it, go buy and watch it right now because you owe it to yourself as a not total lame-o to do so.
Anyway, the SNES version of the Jurassic Park game has a few things going for it and as one might expect, appealed to myself as well as many other fans of the film who owned an SNES at the time. After playing the game and eventually beating it, the things it had going became less appealing and had me questioning why I let Ocean Software take the hours of my life I spent playing their game, never to get them back.
You start the game pretty much right smack in the middle of the dino breakout and you take control of Alan Grant, complete with his fedora-style hat. There are several objectives in the game that ultimately lead to stopping the dinosaur uprising and helping everyone escape from the park – though no other characters ever actually appear in the game.
The gameplay had some variety in that the outside portions had an angled, over-the-top view (kind of like what we’re used to seeing in a Zelda title), and the indoor areas were a first person view. The game supported the SNES Mouse for the FPS parts and while accessing computer panels. It’s also worth noting that Jurassic Park was one of the first SNES games to support Dolby Pro Logic surround sound.
There is a variety of weapons that can be found and used throughout the game, including tranquilizer darts, a bola snare (that just blew stuff up rather than snare them), a gas grenade launcher, shotgun, rocket launcher, and your cattle prod. The cattle prod is the default weapon and has infinite ammo (but takes time to charge after extended use), but the other weapons need to be supplied with ammo. The first person portions of the game had a resource management element to them as you didn’t want to be too liberal with how much ammo you pumped into a dinosaur as you wouldn’t know how many more would be in the next room. Each indoor area also has a section that is completely pitch black, and if you try to enter without finding the battery that charges your night vision goggles, YOU’RE the one who has to worry about going extinct because you get torn apart like, instantly.
The map has a decent number of locations to visit, but playing for the first few times is frustrating because there isn’t a map system for you to use to find your way around. There are some signs, but if you aren’t good at remembering where to go, you’re in for trouble because there is A LOT of backtracking in this game. For example, there are several computer consoles in different indoor locations, and they are used to unlock doors and gates as well as communicate with the mainland to call for help, but certain commands on certain consoles require a keycard belonging to a character from the park (movie). They can be a real pain to find, and I found myself traversing this whole stinkin’ island one end to the other just to get stupid Ellie Sattler’s keycard that doesn’t even do anything useful so I could go all the way the hell back to the other end to open a stupid shed so I could use another computer while also blasting a bunch of bloodthirsty raptors and such. Ugh!!
There are several dino species trying to make a bad day for you in this game but most of the variety comes outdoors as the FPS areas only throw raptors and spitters (Dilophosaurus) at you. Of course you find a T-Rex in the game as well. It hangs out in 2 areas, is invincible, and reminds you upon visiting it that you are in fact, tasty. If you see it coming, you best run the other way because otherwise it’s a quick game over.
Getting back to the game’s objectives, you can’t beat the game without completing each one. So if you miss something, you have to go back, which can add to the backtracking. It would have really helped to have a save or password system because frustration builds quickly from running all over the place for an hour just to find out you missed a room in one of the sheds and don’t have the keycard you need, or you forgot to select the option to unlock a certain gate when you were at the computer.
Jurassic Park had a few cool elements but the amount of frustration from no saves and backtracking make this game a one-and-done for me. And to be honest, it may not even be worth that due to it having arguably one of the worst and most unsatisfying endings in video game history. If you’re really curious, you should watch someone else play it to get the experience, unless you feel like running the risk of throwing your controller out the window due to frustration.
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