Jurassic Park, though a massive franchise, never had much luck with video game adaptations. What many consider the best game series tied to the franchise came out relatively recently, with Jurassic World Evolution in 2018. Some will argue that the arcade titles are the ones to look out for though, it is a shame then that playing them nowadays is so difficult. Thanks to the efforts of the wonder workers over at Limited Run, however, a few more titles are now available for consideration of the mass audience. So enjoy!
Well, “enjoy” is perhaps a bit of a strong word. Soon after booting any one of the seven titles available in the collection, it becomes clear that these are not exactly standout titles. There is the short little action platformer gem from the GameBoy called Jurassic Park Part 2: The Chaos Continues which features tight controls and bits of exploration in its levels, as well as some appealingly minimalistic sprites of the many different dinos. It even includes very enjoyable underwater sections.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is one more game with the same name, but from the SNES. A side-scrolling run and gun with an interesting mechanic of two types of weapons, one for killing and one for neutralizing dinosaurs. Kill enough dinosaurs and the game ends due to the ecosystem collapsing. The controls are tight, but the same cannot be said for the structure. It is unfortunately ruined by bloat, lack of enemy variety, and one too many maze levels. It has co-op though, so if you are into blasting dinos with a pal, this is certainly one of the possible options for that.
Another dichotomy between games with the same name comes from Jurassic Park 8-bit from the NES and 16-bit from the SNES. The first is a top-down run and gun, akin to Commando, which is a bit annoying to learn due to bombs hidden among HP pickups, a lot of running back and forth, memorization-based big dino encounters, and a lot of eggs to pick up. Once the learning process is over, however, this is one of the better-feeling games due to its immediate punchiness and engaging ammo conservation tactics.
Thrown on the collection is also the portable version of the same title from the GameBoy, which is little more than a worse-feeling port. Controls are slower, it is harder to see and plan ahead due to the zoomed-in screen, but the enemies are also slower to compensate. Less chaos, less fun. The SNES version, however, is my least favorite game from the collection. A huge open world map where eggs and keycards are strewn about in huge distances between each other, hidden in secret grottoes and on top of mountains. Back-tracking is a constant, and resources do not respawn.
Those who owned the title on the original console are likely very fond of the first-person indoor sections. There is a commendable effort in trying to encapsulate the more horror-leaning aspect of the movies through them, but the comical dino sprites, poor enemy AI, and same-looking hallways turn them into a disaster waiting to happen. Getting lost is just too easy if you stop focusing for even a second.
Lastly, the two Mega Drive/Genesis titles: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition. These are sort of cinematic platformers, with realistic human character models, animated intros, focus on movement and shooting down carefully laid out enemies, etc. The thing is, however, that they feel like Flashback sped up to infinity and beyond. Doctor Grant makes leaps that the mightiest platforming heroes would find inspiring and survive drops which would undoubtedly crush his legs on impact. They are fine, though Rampage Edition is certainly a good bit overlong.
The best thing the two have going for them is the ability to play as a raptor. The only two games in this collection that lets you take control of a dinosaur, and… here is where we enter true Sonic speeds. The raptor can double jump through what feels like the length of two to three screens, and leap higher than any platformer character I have ever seen. There is a fun dynamic between the two campaigns in each, where you face off against the raptors or Grant by the end depending on who you pick. In the second the raptor faces off against a red raptor though, for some reason.
So all these games have something to them, be that a mechanic or a vibe, but it is easy to see why they are forgotten. None of them excel compared to their contemporaries. Thanks to the additions to the collection, however, it is much easier to complete and examine them from start to finish. The NES, SNES, and Gameboy Jurassic Park games all have a built-in map that can be popped open from the side panel at any time. All seven titles also boast a rewind function that minimizes the trial-and-error tedium. The visuals can be judged a bit better thanks to the CRT and Dot Matrix filters; in general, the games look great in the default resolution.
Unfortunately, not all the games are perfect right now. The NES game, one of my favorites, has a severely damaging bug unique to this version. The sound lags behind the gameplay more and more as time goes on, to the point where it becomes unplayable. Bringing up the side panel with options and waiting a bit can make it catch up, but any one of the games being this broken is a huge turnoff.
Aside from that, the amount of bonus content is slightly disappointing. The music player is a great feature because these games have some surprisingly great themes. Having them at the ready is a nice touch. I would at least love to see some promotional material, maybe covers for these games at least in a nice resolution. To me, however, the biggest omission (aside from there being no way for remapping buttons and only one save state per game) is the lack of manuals.
These games all came from an era where these were an intrinsic part of the experience. I’m sure some of them contained copyright art, but there are parts of the games themselves here that were removed for that reason too. Preserving them in any form would be a huge get, but anything else would have been welcome too. A few bits of text about the developers would have been nice, even if they were not able to give any insight into the development process.
What we get is a very solid preservation effort of fairly forgotten games, which is always a miracle, but due to the major hiccup with the NES game and somewhat lackluster customization, this collection cannot even be called the best version of itself. It does not need much to be that, and I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt that at least the former is going to be fixed, but right now, starting from the first title that pops up upon launch, it is noticeably subpar.
Mateusz played Jurassic Park Classic Games Collection on PC with a review code.