Jurassic Park

Read the full review here.

“Besides extra ammo, there are other items as well, including extra lives (the player begins with two) and extra continues (the player begins with four). However, all of these items look the same, as a “mystery box” square with a question mark in the middle. This poses a problem because many of the boxes are simply explosives that damage the player. This is an astoundingly silly design choice.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.

If I ever make a top-10 style list of “NES Games That Would Be Great If I Could Just Make One Or Two Little Changes,” Jurassic Park would have to be on that list. If you only play the first level, you may truly believe that this is among the best NES video games ever produced, and especially one of the best license games ever made. The action is fast-paced, the enemies and inventory management are tense to an almost survival-horror genre point, the music is solid, the sound effects pack an appropriate punch, and overall the gameplay is just generally presented in a slick and enjoyable manner.

The primary problem begins with the second level, when the player must find another batch of eggs. “Really?” he or she may think. “Didn’t I just complete an Easter egg hunt? Why do I have to do another one?” But perhaps the matter is just shrugged off and play continues. Around the third or fourth time, though, this really becomes monotonous and repetitive. Kill raptors and spitters, find eggs, open doors, complete a boss or other sub-level, repeat. This is the Jurassic Park video game.

Maybe they had already pushed the cartridge to its max, but could Ocean really not have come up with some other way of serving the distinct level objectives (you still have tasks like find key cards, use the raft, blow up the raptors’ nests, etc.) besides finding eggs over and over? Perhaps on one level you have to blow something up, or one area would feature timing and pattern-based puzzles, or maybe one has a mini-game challenge on one of the computer consoles, or just mindlessly rip off an already-proven idea from another, similar game. My vote would be to have a couple levels be much smaller, and have one level on a time limit, another level with differing levels of darkness, and generally emphasize the potential for this to be a survival horror game.

Perhaps this rant has gone on for too long already, so I will boil it down to one point: Jurassic Park on the NES is one of those video games that represents a great deal of wasted potential. The mechanics, the engine, the basis, the foundational aspects are in place for a truly extraordinary 8-bit experience. The execution is not even terrible, it ends up being decent; but, alas, it could have been so much more. Worth trying, but not as good as it could have been.

Oh, and if you beat the game, you are treated to one of the most unique credits presentations ever.

One Response to “ Jurassic Park ”

  1. […] Yes, in the review I compare it to Pac-Man. Yes, I say it may represent a prototypical survival horror game (actually, that reminds me, one last soapbox point about underappreciated movie license games, though one that maybe did not meet its potential for greatness: Jurassic Park). […]

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