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Life, Uh, Finds A Way: A Complete History of the ‘Jurassic Park’ Video Games Franchise

It’s a special day in the Two Beard Gaming calendar today. Today marks 65 years since our dear friend Jeff Goldblum landed on Earth from his home in the cosmos, to embark on a mission of enlightenment and hope that has enriched all of our lives for so many years.

To celebrate Mr. Goldblum getting his bus pass, we’ve decided to take a look back at the storied history of perhaps his most famous film endeavour – Jurassic Park and its legacy as a video games franchise.

 

JURASSIC PARK (OCEAN SOFTWARE, 1993)

Jurassic Park 1993 NES

It’s perhaps fitting that the first ever Jurassic Park video game was released on the NES, a console dear to our hearts, but still, one that existed around the same time as the dinosaurs.

In Ocean’s original attempt at the franchise, players take on the role of Dr. Alan Grant, who must make his way around Isla Nublar in search of annoying pre-teens Lex and Tim without any of them becoming lunch.

Despite being on the NES, Jurassic Park is a rather nice looking top-down shooter, with an impressive open-world environment and movie accurate set pieces. It would be ported to the Game Boy a month later but didn’t receive anywhere near as favourable reviews.

Aesthetically, the SNES edition – which was also released in 1993 – was much more pleasing to the eye for gamers and incorporated plot lines from the book as well as the movie. The Super Nintendo version was so well-received that it actually remained on Nintendo Power magazines top 20 SNES games list for over a year.

 

JURASSIC PARK (BLUESKY SOFTWARE, 1993)

Jurassic Park 1993 Genesis

If Nintendo wasn’t your console of choice, then there was also a Jurassic Park released especially for SEGA fans. Developed by BlueSky in 1993, it was a much more exciting side-scrolling platformer.

Unlike the Ocean Software games, BlueSky incorporated a feature that allowed gamers to play as a Velociraptor, evading park security at all costs in an attempt to locate Alan Grant at the visitor centre and slice open his stomach for dinner. Yummy.

BlueSky’s Jurassic Park has received a ton of criticism in recent years, often likened to that massive pile of poo we see in the movie. But back in 1993, it was a fun movie tie-in that helped usher in the 16-bit era of cashing in on summer blockbusters.

 

JURASSIC PARK (SEGA, 1993)

Jurassic Park Game Gear 1993

While BlueSky handled the Genesis version of the game, SEGA themselves were behind the Game Gear and Master System releases. Typically these were less impressive than the Genesis version but incorporated a few twists to the gameplay that made them feel fresh and lured completists over to the less-popular consoles.

 

JURASSIC PARK – SEGA CD (SEGA MULTIMEDIA, 1994)

Jurassic Park Sega-CD

1994 saw the first point-and-click adventure find it’s way on to the SEGA CD. Set after the events of the movie, you play as a scientist who must locate 7 hidden dinosaur eggs and get them to the safety of an incubator, all within a real-time 12 hour time limit.

Due to the CD-ROM technology associated with the SEGA CD (known as the Mega CD in the UK), this was the most well developed Jurassic Park game up to this point.

 

JURASSIC PARK ARCADE (SEGA-AM3, 1994)

Jurassic Park Arcade 1994

The 1990’s had some really great arcade titles, one of which was this rail shooter that came with a cabinet made up of the back-end of a Ford Explorer with moving seats.

 

JURASSIC PARK: RAMPAGE EDITION (BLUESKY SOFTWARE, 1994)

JUrassic Park Rampage Edition

Picking up after the climax of the movie, Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition is a do-over of the original BlueSky video game, but with a new story that pits perpetual action hero Alan Grant (what about Ian Malcolm, damnit?) against marauding InGen soldiers.

 

JURASSIC PARK INTERACTIVE (STUDIO 3DO, 1994)

Jurassic Park 3DO

Universal Interactive felt the need to get involved in the video games business by releasing this series of mini-games on the ill-fated 3DO platform. The choice to use lookalikes to portray the movies key characters instead of bringing in some of the actual cast members was just one of the many flaws of this poorly received game.

 

JURASSIC PARK: PAINT & ACTIVITY CENTRE (HI TECH ENTERTAINMENT, 1994)

JUrassic Park Paint

Imagine a spin-off of the Joy of Painting but with Jeff Goldblum instead of Bob Ross. What a great show that would be. While we’re waiting for that to happen, why not play this instead. Or not. Either is fine.

 

JURASSIC PARK 2: THE CHAOS CONTINUES (OCEAN SOFTWARE, 1995)

Jurassic Park Chaos

Developed in 1994, but released closer to 1995 in some markets, Ocean’s follow up to their popular Nintendo titles was the first two-player release in the franchise.

This time, Dr. Alan Grant returns to the island alongside a bad-ass soldier named Wolfskin, in an attempt to rid the remains of the park of a rival organisation intent on taking control of Isla Nublar. The story is completely made-up but was a great way to continue the story, or so Ocean thought. Reviews for The Chaos Continues were far from favourable, with most critics complaining that everything that had made the original games so appealing had been stripped away leaving in its place a generic run-and-gun game with drab graphics.

Those critics have since been fed to a T-Rex.

 

JURASSIC PARK THE RIDE – ONLINE ADVENTURE (UNIVERSAL, 1996)

JURASSIC PARK THE RIDE - ONLINE ADVENTURE

Universal Studios’ Jurassic Park ride is incredible. This online exclusive game, developed to promote the attraction, was about as good as you’d expect from anything released online in 1996.

 

THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (DREAMWORKS INTERACTIVE, 1997)

Jurassic Park Lost World PSX

DreamWorks breathed new life into the Jurassic Park franchise with its movie sequel tie-in The Lost World, released on the SEGA Saturn and Sony PlayStation.

Unlike with the SEGA and Nintendo years, both versions of this game were identical, no matter which platform you chose – although the game did not follow the film’s story, opting instead to go with alternate hunter modes in which you either try and survive as a dinosaur, or try and survive as a human.

The game was relatively well received, but the highlight had to be the surprise ending in which Jeff Goldblum reprises his Ian Malcolm character, offering thanks and praise to the player.

 

THE LOST WORLD (SEGA, 1997)

Jurassic Park Lost World Sega Saturn

Despite already having a release on the Saturn, SEGA went back to the well one more time for the Genesis with an alternative spin on the Lost World story. Just like the DreamWorks game, players were tasked with the challenge of saving dinosaurs from hunters intent on taking them back to the mainland.

Game Boy, Game Gear, and a handheld Tiger Electronics version were also released, all with similar game modes. The difference with the Genesis version though was how it allowed both cooperative and competitive play, making this the most action-packed Jurassic Park title so far.

 

CHAOS ISLAND: THE LOST WORLD (DREAMWORKS, 1997)

Jurassic Park Chaos Island

Jeff Goldblum returned to the franchise full-time for the first real-time strategy game in the franchise. He is joined by other cast members including Julianna Moore, Vince Vaughn, and Richard Attenborough, who all reprise their roles from the films in another “must stop the hunters” adventure.

Allowing players to build their own armies of dinosaurs to train and use against the invading soldiers gave Chaos Island a real Command and Conquer feel.

 

THE LOST WORLD: ARCADE (SEGA AM3, 1997)

Lost World Arcade

Jurassic Park returned to the arcades in 1997 with another light-gun rescue game that has earned legendary status in the coin-op community.

 

TRESPASSER (DREAMWORKS INTERACTIVE, 1998)

Trespasser 1998

Stephen Spielberg himself helped bring this ‘digital sequel’ to the Lost World movie to life in 1998. It is a first-person shooter set on ‘Site B’, told through the eyes of the only survivor of a plane crash who is unlucky enough to wake up on an island inhabited solely by dinosaurs.

The game was universally panned by critics for its ugly graphics, clunky gameplay and enough bugs to wipe out the dinosaurs all over again.

 

WARPATH: JURASSIC PARK (BLACK OPS, 1999)

Warpath.png

Ever wondered what Street Fighter would have looked like if all of the fighters were replaced by dinosaurs? Well, wonder no more.

Warpath is the Jurassic Park video game you never knew you needed.

 

JURASSIC PARK III: DINO DEFENDER (KNOWLEDGE, 2001)

Dino Defender

Despite the poor title, and simplistic stages, Dino Defender was a well-received action game for PC and Mac.

 

JURASSIC PARK III: DANGER ZONE (KNOWLEDGE, 2001)

Danger Zone

Following on from the popular Dino Defender title, players returned to Isla Sorna as a mechanoid tasked with retrieving dino DNA from the island after the original supply is destroyed in an earthquake.

The Knowledge series were aimed at younger gamers but remained popular despite having no real ties to the movies other than the Jurassic Park name.

 

JURASSIC PARK III (KONAMI, 2001)

JP3 Konami

After a few years in the wilderness, Jurassic Park smashed its way back into the arcade courtesy of the coin-op kings Konami.

Players take on the roles of InGen soldiers who are sent to Isla Sorna to rescue any survivors and kick some prehistoric ass along the way. It was similar to many other rail shooters at the time, so was perhaps lost in the shuffle.

 

JURASSIC PARK III: ISLAND ATTACK (MOBILE21, 2001)

Island Attack

2002 ushered in the Game Boy Advance era, but this was perhaps not the strongest launch title for the franchise. Alan Grant AGAIN finds himself stranded on the original island – what is with this guy? – and must make it to the coast without becoming over familiar with a T-Rex’s insides.

What an attention seeking prick Dr. Grant is, hu?

 

JURASSIC PARK III: THE DNA FACTOR (KONAMI, 2001)

Jurassic Park DNA

Choosing between a photographer and an ace pilot, Konami’s GBA title is another spin on the ‘find the DNA samples’ story that has been told more than once already by this point. Ordinarily, we’d give Konami a pass, but the game was almost impossible to control and was widely believed to be one of the worst Jurassic Park games ever released.

 

JURASSIC PARK III: PARK BUILDER (KONAMI, 2001)

Jurassic Park Park Builder GBA

At last! A game where you can build your own dinosaur park! Hallelujah! The only downside of Park Builder was its own limitations – allowing for only 8 enclosures at a time.

 

SCAN COMMAND (KNOWLEDGE, 2001)

Scan Command

Have you heard the one about the genetically engineered dino-soldiers roaming around Jurassic Park? It sounds like the stuff of video game whimsy but this was actually thrown around as a possible Jurassic Park sequel idea at one time. It’s also the theme of Scan Command which was a way better game than it had any right to be.

 

DINOSAUR BATTLES (KNOWLEDGE, 2002)

There are two words that best describe Dinosaur Battles – ugly and weird, which strangely enough is the title of this writers memoirs.

 

OPERATION GENESIS (BLUE TONGUE, 2003)

Operation Genesis

Operation Genesis was everything that Park Builder should have been and more. This time, players were charged with building their very own dino-empire on a much grander scale, with the capability of console giants like the original Xbox and PlayStation 2 really giving us the Jurassic Park experience we’d been crying out for.

Unfortunately, Operation Genesis was also limited to the number of dinosaurs you could breed and house at any one time, so no matter how much cash you ended up making it didn’t make any difference to your final product.

 

DINOSAUR RESCUE (ROCKET COMPANY, 2003)

Dino Rescue.png

This Japanese exclusive was released as part of the Jurassic Park: Institute Tour, which was a travelling exhibition in Japan. It was an educational experience more than a game, but if you’re a collector intent on owning the lot then you’re going to have to hunt this one down too.

 

JURASSIC PARK (TELLTALE GAMES, 2011)

Jurassic Park Telltale Games

For almost a decade the Jurassic Park franchise was as extinct as its prehistoric stars. DVD interactive games and a couple of mobile games were the sum total of projects seeing the light of day until Telltale Games came along and breathed new life into the series in 2011 – or so we thought.

You see, back in 2011 Telltale were still finding their niche, and weren’t quite the behemoth they would later end up becoming. This episodic tale couldn’t have been further from the highs we experienced with the Walking Dead games but would have made a pretty cool movie.

 

JURASSIC PARK ARCADE (RAW THRILLS, 2015)

Jurassic Park Arcade 2015

This was Raw Thrills’ first attempt at this style of an arcade game, and although it was a very ambitious project it failed to recapture some of the glory of the earlier years.

 

LEGO JURASSIC WORLD (TT FUSION, 2015)

Lego Jurassic World

By 2015, the Lego games were some of the biggest and best titles in the gaming world. Lego Jurassic World was no exception. In fact, it was the top selling game in the UK in June of 2015, and then again in August, selling more than 4 million copies.

The success of the game has yet to be officially linked to the inclusion of Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm, but it’s probably a safe assumption.

 

JURASSIC WORLD EVOLUTION (FRONTIER DEVELOPMENTS, 2018)

Jurassic World Evolution

Ever since Operation Genesis hit the shelves, Jurassic Park fans have longed for a realistic, immersive park builder and they finally got that this year with the incredible Jurassic World Evolution.

There aren’t a ton of differences between Operation Genesis and Evolution at face value, but it only takes 5 minutes of gameplay to see that there has never been a business simulator game that comes close to this – and not just in the JP franchise.

If you’ve waited 25 years for a truly great Jurassic Park game then your patience will be rewarded – after a few stumbling blocks along the long way life has uh, finally, found a way.

 

What are your favourite Jurassic Park video games? What would you like to see next? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

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