Jurassic Park (Sega video game)
European cover art
|Artist(s)||Douglas TenNapel (lead artist)
Dana Christianson (art director)
Jurassic Park is a video game for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis published by Sega and developed by BlueSky Software. It was released as part of the tie-in merchandise to the movie of the same name from Universal Pictures.
Due to the game's critical success, a sequel of the Genesis game was also released, called Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition, which relies more on action and more on-screen enemies.
Jurassic Park is a standard action video game, its level design seemingly putting it in the platform genre, with the end objective being to reach the end of each level, traveling from left to right using items placed at fixed locations. However, the game features a then-uncommon variation in action games, giving players the option of using two characters that played independently to one another. The game was playable as either Dr Alan Grant, or one of the film's versions of a Velociraptor. Grant is the default character and can be switched to the Raptor using the 'Player' option on the game's main menu. The game has three selectable difficulty levels: "Medium" is the default neutral setting while "Hard" means more damage taken from enemies (who move faster and attack frequently) and "Easy" mode makes for less troublesome foes from which relatively little damage is taken.
Each player is given three lives, and when one is lost, the player restarts at the beginning of the level. A game over will reset the game entirely, though passwords to certain stages are displayed prior to entry for the purpose of the player merely starting from that level onwards rather than from the beginning. A Password option is displayed in the game's main menu.
When playing as Dr. Grant, his objective is to navigate through seven areas of Isla Nublar and make it safely to the Visitors Center to escape via helicopter. However he must contend with the various dinosaurs that roam the island, now free of their enclosures. Grant has seven weapons: two kinds of tranquilizer darts: blue (weak) and red (strong); three types of grenades (gas, flash and exploding, with the latter required to beat the game); a short-range taser and a rocket launcher. All of these items require ammunition refills which are scattered throughout the island, sometimes in hard-to-reach places. Grant's recovery item is a first-aid kit, a few of which occur in each level.
The Velociraptor player character can run much faster and jump higher than Grant, though it can only attack from close-range using its teeth and claws. The Raptor's goal is to elude (or eliminate) the Jurassic Park security guards and corner Dr Grant at the Visitors Center. The Raptor plays for only five levels, however. Along the way stray dinosaurs can be bothersome for the Raptor, who can knock them out. The enemy guards wield grenades and missiles but can be easily overpowered by the Raptor, though the final level increases the guards' presence and temperament. The Raptor's health item is generic "meat", although it has the ability to eat a "compy" to refill its health as well.
All the dinosaurs appearing in the game are based on their portrayals in the Jurassic Park novels and films and do not reflect the true natures of the real dinosaurs.
- Brachiosaurus - gentle herbivores despite their size, but due to that they are obstacles. Brachiosaurs only appear when playing the game as Grant and are typically unaffected by his weapons with the exception of his grenades, which merely cause them to move off-screen.
- Dilophosaurus - also called "Spitters", medium-sized theropods who spit venom at player characters within range. They can be easily knocked out by any weapon.
- Procompsognathus - (also known as "Compys") chicken-sized theropods who can drain the player characters' health. The Raptor may eat compys to refill their health meter, and Grant's weapons can neutralize them.
- Triceratops - passive-aggressive herbivores also known as "Trikes" that inhabit only Grant's levels. Though most Trikes are docile, their horned heads are dangerous and should be avoided. Trikes sometimes charge at Grant, often with disastrous results.
- Tyrannosaurus - known as "T.rex", is the island's biggest predator. T. rex appears only when playing as Grant; though it cannot be harmed, Grant's weapons can at least stop T. rex from attacking momentarily for Grant to pass safely. Falling prey to its enormous jaws will cause Grant to lose one life.
- Velociraptor - Also known as "raptors", are the primary antagonists (when playing the game as Grant), or protagonist (when playing as the Raptor character). When playing as Grant, the raptors' A.I. is higher than the other dinosaurs in the game, referring to the raptors' high intelligence. As the game progresses the raptors become increasingly smarter, being able to kick doors open and even resisting certain weapons.
Though not a dinosaur, Pteranodon appear in some levels, swooping down from above to attack the player characters, who can dispatch them with any weapon.
Doug TenNapel, who created Earthworm Jim, was the lead artist for the development team. The game's animators consulted experts who worked on the film on how the game's dinosaurs should look. The development team also consulted with paleontologist Robert Bakker, who dissected a supermarket chicken to demonstrate the similarities of dinosaur anatomy to bird anatomy. Bakker also appeared in a commercial for the game. For the game to reflect the latest dinosaur discoveries and theories, the development team took field trips to museums of natural history; and to zoos to observe the feeding habits and physical movements of birds and reptiles, such as ostriches and alligators.
The 3D models for the game's dinosaurs were created using stop motion photography while a team member was filmed acting out Grant's movements and was then digitized. A $75,000 Velociraptor puppet from the film was also used for production of the game. The game features ADI (Artificial Dinosaur Intelligence) causing the dinosaur enemies to react differently every time a player plays a level, making no two games the same.
Elements from Michael Crichton's novel, Jurassic Park, were featured in the game, including the presence of procompsognathus and pteranodons, and the Jungle River attraction. The game used the film's original planned ending, in which Grant would eliminate the velociraptors by manipulating a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton in the visitor center. By June 1993, the development team had been working on the game for 15 months.
Christopher Michael Baker of AllGame rated the game four and a half stars out of five. Baker praised the game's graphics, the ability to play as either Grant or the Velociraptor, and the sound effects and intelligence of the game's dinosaurs. Baker concluded, "It's the type of game that -- even though it is the product of movie merchandising -- is fabulous on its own. A rare find indeed."
Bob Strauss of Entertainment Weekly called the game "a blast" and rated it a "B+". Game Informer magazine declared the Genesis version of the game somewhat superior to the SNES version in a 2012 comparison of the two games.
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