As my Jurassic Park IMAX 3D review indicated, I’ve always been a big fan of dinosaurs, and video games – especially ones where you got to play as dinos – are no exception. Jurassic Park itself had innumerable game adaptations; I owned one for the PC, two for the GameBoy, and played the Genesis version whenever I visited friends who owned a Genesis. Each one provided its own spin on the events of the film, and the Genesis version actually let you play as a freaking velociraptor!
Probably my most memorable JP-branded gaming experience, though, came in the form of the Playstation era The Lost World from DreamWorks and Electronic Arts. An ambitious title, it was the very first game I got for my PS One, and I adored it. The graphics were exceptional (for the time), and the game featured a full orchestral score composed by the then-unknown Michael Giacchino. It would have been a stellar title, if not for the existence of a few design elements that should have been left extinct.
Every time you go to Toys “R” Us, play the demo level as the T-Rex eating hunters and raptors, and generally causing mayhem until your mom drags you away.
Upon getting the game, boot it up to find yourself as a compsognathus, eating dragonflies and mice, and generally trying not to die until you get bored and go outside.
After several hours of play, get excited that you can finally use your new “memory card” to save your progress. Become increasingly frustrated as neither you nor your tech-genius father can figure out how this works.
Finally decipher the manual to realize that this game uses an outdated password system in lieu of save data. Further discover that it only generates a password at the end of each character’s segment, and dying wipes all current progress.
Go to your local game retailer and purchase the strategy guide, which in addition to walkthroughs contains passwords for each level. Go to the start of each character section to at least try them out.
Start your post-tiny-dino run as the hunter, excited to finally be playing as something with a real offensive capability. Quickly get disemboweled by dinosaurs apparently wearing Kevlar.
Jump forward to the velociraptor segments, ready to shred the puny humans the way raptors shredded your hunter. Get riddled with bullets, and then face off against an ankylosaurus, the dinosaur equivalent of a Panzer tank.
Finally get to play as the t-rex, only to discover that you are now the biggest, slowest target in the entire world. Slowly watch your health drain as you struggle to eat even one overly-nimble adversary.
Begrudgingly start the Sarah Harding levels, and realize that these frenetic, run-for-your-life platforming and grapple sections are probably the best in the game. Until, of course, you get trapped inside a poorly-designed cargo hold trying to fight a t-rex.
Ultimately realize that the game is absolutely no fun as presented, so use the codes in the guide to genetically engineer a dino demigod and finally enjoy the game.
Almost fifteen years later, discover online that the Greatest Hits version of the game was a “Special Edition” that fixed the control issues, balanced the difficulty, added a save system, and included level-select codes in the game manual. Talk about chaos theory.
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