GameSpite Journal 12: Jurassic Park

Sonic versus Mario. Mortal Kombat versus Street Fighter. Phantasy Star versus Final Fantasy. There’s no shortage of great battles to be fought over whether the Genesis or the Super Nintendo had access to the greatest library of the ’90s, but while the heavyweights battled it out with great fanfare and BBS flame wars, smaller games had to throw their differences into the fight as ammunition to use in the truly momentous conflicts. Nowhere did these smaller bullets fly more quickly than when titles licensed from popular source material had entirely different experiences on the two systems. “The Genesis version of Aladdin has unparalleled graphics!” “The SNES Shadowrun is unlike anything else available on either console!”

“Yeah, well you can play as a raptor.”

Some of these battles were brutally short. While Jurassic Park on the SNES baffled its target audience with a top-down egg hunt interspersed with murky Wolfenstein-inspired interior stages, the Genesis version went for the throat with the opening screen of an incredible looking digitized T-Rex shouting the Sega scream. The SNES game looked like a cartoon! The Genesis game looked like the movie! And most importantly, while its frog-DNA clone cousin forced you to stay in the shoes of Dr. Alan Grant, nature found a way on the Genesis to allow you to take control of the claws of the real hero of the film.

No kid who saw Jurassic Park wanted to play as Alan Grant, a paleontologist with respect and awe for dinosaurs forced to use all manner of non-lethal and brutally lethal force against the creatures he loved. It was shoe-horning action where it didn’t fit, and never mind that the brunt of Jurassic Park’s content came from the seven stages of Alan Grant’s campaign to escape the island. While Alan traversed slowly through sprawling stages full of dinosaurs out to make a snack of him, picking up multiple weapons and finding fuel tanks for his raft or exhaust valves to escape a pumping facility, the raptor leapt through five brisk stages full of stun-gun wielding humans to pounce on and tasty little compys.

Never mind that neither half of Jurassic Park is very good. The levels are unfair and full of cheap hits and unseen pits, the digitized graphics account for about six sprites total for the entire game, and the controls are unforgivingly stiff. Death comes frequently and send you back to the beginning of your current stage without mercy. Somehow, none of this matters when you’re playing as the raptor. Your leap can clear nearly two full screen heights, and jumping on enemies to take them out with your razor-sharp talons feels satisfying enough to forego just about any complaint about awkward hitboxes or leaps of faith onto tiny platforms. You bound with abandon and devour the weak with extreme prejudice. No gaming experience could live up to the awe that the Jurassic Park film managed to inspire at the time of its release, but only one Jurassic Park game even bothered to revel in the joy that could be had simply playing as a dinosaur. Even the smallest victories can still be considered wins.

Article by Marc Host

GameSpite Journal 12: Jurassic Park

6 thoughts on “GameSpite Journal 12: Jurassic Park

  1. You SEGA kids may have had a playable raptor in your Jurassic Park, but we didn’t exactly have a shortage of games with playable dinosaurs, either. E.V.O. let you evolve up your own mix & match dinosaur in the third chapter, Super Mario World had Yoshi, Adventure Island 2 & 3 had Master Higgins riding dinosaur friends, Dynowarz had robot dinosaurs, the pet in Legacy of the Wizard looks like one in-game…

    But anyway, it’s interesting just how different licensed games could be between platforms. Genesis Jurassic Park was a platformer with a raptor as one of the player characters, while SNES Jurassic Park went more of an overhead adventure game that goes Doom perspective indoor. And the Game Gear Jurassic Park had multiple endings depending on how you played it.

  2. Oddly, while the text seems to be describing Jurassic Park, all of the screenshots shown are from the Rampage Edition. Which is a completely separate game, with a completely different style of play. While both games let you play as either Grant or raptor, Rampage Edition is a mindless action game where you either get crazy weapons like uzis and flamethrowers as Grant, or get to leap, bound, slash, and even double jump around levels as the raptor, even having a rage mode upgrade feature. In that respect, the raptor’s game wasn’t much of a departure for the original game, but the pace was cranked up.

    I can’t help but have a nostalgic fondness for JP, because not only had the movie whipped up my child imagination because, duh, dinosaurs, but the Genesis was the first console I had ever owned, and I had gotten this game at Christmas along with it. It was also the first game I played on my own system, and the first game I’d ever beaten–as Grant and raptor alike. So I hadn’t really been too picky when I played it, and when I missed a jump and died because I had no way of seeing where the safe landing spot was, I just accepted that learning the level layout was something you had to do. I got to the point where I could repeat a level almost flawlessly, despite the game’s control quirks. Plus, the raptor was a pretty insane dose of power for a 16-bit game character. You leap several screens high, land on a dude and he dies before he ever had a fighting chance at taking you out. Good times.

    Getting to that surely involved lots of trial and error and memorization, though, but damnit, RAPTOR!!!

    • The screenshot issue is my fault. I don’t know the Jurassic Park games and screens were tough to come by, so I just took a stab at using what I could find.

  3. Don’t know much about these games, but I am very interested in how licensed games differed drastically by platform. Batman Returns comes to mind – both versions have suburb atmosphere that really captures the Burton film, but the Genesis version is an awful action/platformer while the SNES is a solid beat-em-up. The NES game is a watered down version of the SNES game – made by Konami, very reminescent of the TMNT brawlers.

    The same could be said for Batman, too (based on Burton’s first film). The NES version, as we know, is an excellent action/platformer, while the Genesis version is… also an action/platformer, but completely different. And also not nearly as good.

    Even though it almost always boils down to: this version is way different and way better than that version… it’s still pretty neat to see them make completely different games, instead of the straight up ports of today’s world.

  4. The Game Gear probably got the most playable “Jurassic Park” games (the same goes for “Batman Returns” btw.) – though neither “JP” nor “Lost World” has a lot in common with the movies, both control quite well and stages are fairly designed and diverse.
    Of course, the controlable Raptor is completely missing in the first and not particulary menacing in the second one – So Genesis still wins, I guess ;)

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