Gaming has a rich history that spans multiple decades. To this end, The Last Word on Gaming Backlog is a series that looks back on titles across all generations. From the golden 8-bit era to the landscape-changing 64-bit scene and beyond, The LWOG Backlog’s aim is history. Shifting gears to the Sega Genesis, we will take a look at a movie tie-in game based on one of the largest films of the 90s – Jurassic Park.
Patented and Packaged – Jurassic Park
Directed by Steven Speilberg, 1993’s Jurassic Park is a film that needs no introduction. Most action and sci-fi film enthusiasts are familiar with the story of Dr. Alan Grant and his quest to protect two small children as they venture through a theme park full of reanimated dinosaurs. The film spawned multiple sequels over the years, so it’s fair to say that it was a success. With this mainstream success, however, came a wealth of video games. These were seen on platforms ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the PC and beyond.Jurassic
In 1993, as a way to tie into the film, the game simply titled Jurassic Park was released on the Sega Genesis. It was slated for a 1993 worldwide release. Jurassic Park was published by Sega and developed by BlueSky Software; longtime Sega fans may be familiar with the latter’s work developing the Vectorman games for the Genesis. Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis is a title that, while rough around the edges, provided a boost of adrenaline to gamers during the 16-bit era.
Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis offers two unique campaigns: one where the player takes on the role of Dr. Alan Grant and the other where the player assumes the role of a Velociraptor. Grant’s story is in line with the movie; simply put, the player must escape Jurassic Park, which has been overrun by dangerous creatures of a bygone era. As the Velociraptor, once broken from captivity, the player’s goal is to traverse through multiple levels in search of Grant. In other words, as the dinosaur, the story’s established protagonist is the target.
The fact that Jurassic Park provides the player with two unique roles offers more meat to the bones of the game’s story. Grant’s story is more traditional, as it tells the story of the movie, albeit with some creative liberties thrown in. However, the Velociraptor’s campaign is more unorthodox, allowing the player to assume a role they may not have thought possible. It allows the game to be played from a different perspective, too. Whether as Grant or the Velociraptor, Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis tells a solid story.Jurass
As Grant, Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis plays very much like a 2D survival horror game. The player must navigate multiple levels, all the while evading and neutralizing dinosaurs. The latter can be done by utilizing weapons such as tranquilizer darts, grenades, and rockets. Keep in mind, though, that supplies are limited, so players will have to manage their inventory with care. The goal isn’t so much to defeat the various dinosaurs, but rather, survive their onslaught. Playing as Grant forces the player to be more strategic in this sense.
As the Velociraptor, however, carnage is the name of the game. This creature cannot use the same weaponry as Grant. Instead, the player is given immeasurable strength in this role, from unbelievable vertical leaps to ferocious pounces and beyond. While the Velociraptor will come into contact with other dinos, the beast will also encounter Jurassic Park employees, most of whom are armed to the teeth. The Velociraptor’s campaign is more akin to a traditional action game, which is good for those that may not be keen on Grant’s slower, more methodical pace.
Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis provides solid variety in its two campaigns, but the game is held back by a few traits. First, the game can be incredibly tough, with the difficulty curve being inconsistent at times. Second, the controls can feel rigid at times, which is especially true when the game experiences slowdown. These hitches can make Jurassic Park feel like an extra challenge, so it’s important to keep these rougher edges in mind when playing for the first time.
Presentation (Graphics and Sound)
Though Jurassic Park may be a movie tie-in game, it’s not a product that was made lazily. This is especially true when it comes to presentation, which is one of the areas where this game shines. From the very first level of Grant’s campaign, it becomes clear that this game has perfectly captured the thrilling, suspenseful atmosphere of the movie it’s based on. The jungle is dark and uninviting, filled with foliage as far as the eye can see. The power station is cold and sterile. These are just a few examples of Jurassic Park utilizing the Sega Genesis to its full capabilities. The dinosaurs are all well-designed, too. This is especially true in regard to the Tyrannosaurus rex, which bellows out “Sega” on the first screen; it’s an impressive touch, to say the least.
The same can be said for the sound, which is another area where Jurassic Park is likely to impress. Each dinosaur has its own unique sounds, from the grunts of the Triceratops to the commanding roar of the T-Rex once it emerges from the background. Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis also has one of the better soundtracks of any movie tie-in game during this era. The jungle theme, with its high tempo, is accompanied by various sounds of dinosaurs, enhancing the atmosphere. The final area, the Visitor’s Center, is perhaps the best track of the entire game; once again, it’s fast-paced, ushering the player to keep moving. Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis was composed by Sam Powell; he would go on to create music for several games, including the PC version of Mario is Missing.
The fact that Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis can be played as two different characters offers replayability at the onset. In fact, during the 90s, the average buyer may not have known that they could play as a blood-hungry dinosaur in addition to the human protagonist in Grant. With that said, once a player understands how to navigate levels, the game’s difficulty mentioned earlier smooths out. In fact, it wouldn’t be unfathomable for a player to beat both campaigns in only a few hours’ time. Jurassic Park may not boast the most replayability on the Sega Genesis, but for those that are looking for an example of a movie-based game with quality, there are certainly worse options available.
With a game that’s so steeped in action and sci-fi, and a touch of horror, as Jurassic Park, it should come as no surprise that this property spawned several games across all systems. In terms of the Genesis, this title had a follow-up in 1994. Enter Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition, which was once again published by Sega and developed by BlueSky Software. Despite what the name infers, this sequel is an entirely new creation that can be played as either Grant or the Velociraptor. This game abandons many of its survival horror qualities in favor of a more action-oriented experience. Additionally, the original’s dark and gritty atmosphere is replaced with a more colorful, vibrant presentation.
This doesn’t even begin to touch on the several Jurassic Park titles that were released on the Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance, and PlayStation 2, just to name a few examples. Simply put, this is a property that has become tailor-made for gaming. Of course, some results have been better than others. While the original Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis may not be the most refined title of them all, it remains a solid time, no matter if you prefer the cerebral gameplay of Grant or the sheer chaos of the Velociraptor.