Jurassic Park (Sega video game)
European cover art
Doug TenNapel |
Jurassic Park is a 1993 video game developed by BlueSky Software and published by Sega for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. It was released as part of the tie-in merchandise to the 1993 film of the same name. The game includes elements from Michael Crichton's 1990 novel, Jurassic Park, on which the film is based.
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Jurassic Park is a standard side-scrolling action video game, with platform gameplay elements. The end objective is to reach the end of each level, 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 is playable as either paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, or 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; when one is lost, the player restarts at the beginning of the level. A game over will reset the game entirely, although passwords are displayed in between levels, allowing the player to continue from a specific level rather than from the beginning. A Password option is displayed in the game's main menu.
When playing as 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 can use various weapons, including a tranquillizer gun, a stun gun, flash grenades, gas grenades, 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 jump higher than Grant, and run much faster, although 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 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, although 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.
Acclaim Entertainment and Activision had both bid for the rights to produce the Sega Genesis version of Jurassic Park, but lost to Sega. 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.
Jurassic Park was the first game by Sega to be developed using Silicon Graphics computers at the company's new development facility; such computers were previously used to create computer-generated dinosaurs for the film. 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. Many dinosaur models used for the film were sent to the game's development studio so they could also be filmed and digitized while in motion. A $75,000 Velociraptor puppet from the film was also used for production of the game. The game features "Artificial Dinosaur Intelligence" that causes the dinosaur enemies to react differently every time a level is played, giving the player a unique experience each time.
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. The game's volcano level was not featured in the novel or the film. Sam Powell composed the game's music and sound effects. By June 1993, the development team had been working on the game for 15 months. The game's development had been kept secretive up until that month, when the game was publicly unveiled for the first time at Chicago's Summer Consumer Electronics Show. Jurassic Park was the first film-based video game to give players the option of playing as a protagonist or antagonist.
Rocky Mountain News wrote that the film "had all of the elements to make a video game classic. Too bad Sega didn't see that. In all of its 16-megabit, Spielberg-licensed, digitized, graphically detailed glory, the game still grates, bores and frustrates." William Schiffmann of the Associated Press favorably compared the game to Flashback, and called it "a winner," writing that, "Playing Jurassic Park is as much fun as seeing the movie—maybe better. Graphics are great, control is excellent and the sound, both music and effects, is perfect." Joel Easley of Scripps Howard News Service considered the game too easy, and criticized the background graphics, although he praised the "awesome" designs of the main characters and T. rex, as well as the "cool" ability to play as either Grant or the Velociraptor.
Pat Ferguson, a video game industry analyst, called the game's character choices "the great hook here," and stated that Sega "has combined all the best of 16-bit video games in 'Jurassic Park.' The quality of the graphics is as good as it's going to get, and the sound is the highest quality I can recall in any video game." 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+".
In 2005, Morgan Webb of X-Play criticized the game as a poor movie tie-in and included it on the show's list of "Games We Wish Were Buried In New Mexico." Game Informer magazine declared the Genesis version of Jurassic Park somewhat superior to the SNES version in a 2012 comparison of the two games.
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Video-game giants Sega and Nintendo launched a summer "box office" war last weekend with the biggest-selling video games so far this year. Redwood City-based Sega claims it racked up $13.8 million in retail sales of its Jurassic Park game for the 16-bit Sega Genesis system, based on sales estimates from its top 10 retailers, including K mart and Toys R Us. With a suggested retail price of $54.99 per game, about 250,000 games were sold.
- Guinn, Jeff (September 1, 1993). "'Jurassic Par' video game proves popular: Sega Genesis' game breaking all records". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
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- Schiffmann, William (August 29, 1993). "Video game review: New Jurassic Park game as much fun as the movie". Associated Press. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Easley, Joel (September 18, 1993). "Sega 'wimps out' on 'Jurassic Park': Game is OK, but too easy". Scripps Howard News Service. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Strauss, Bob (May 20, 1994). "Jurassic Park Interactive". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
- "Games We Wish Were Buried In New Mexico". X-Play. September 13, 2005. Event occurs at 1:47–2:16. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
- Ryckert, Dan (May 8, 2012). "Same Name, Different Game: SNES vs. Genesis". Game Informer magazine. Event occurs at 5:33-13:22. Retrieved February 19, 2015.