When we last left our hero, he was busy doing this:
And now for part two of our epic four part series looking back at the ‘Jurassic Park’ games for the Sega Genesis.
Alan Grant pissed me off. His clumsy bumbling through terrible levels frustrated me to a level that almost made me do the one thing I never thought I’d do as a kid: stop playing a game. I perfected the TMNT water level, I kept climbing Bugs Bunny’s Crazy Castle, I LANDED THE GODDAMN PLANE IN TOP GUN! I never gave up on a game! Yet, despite not being nearly as frustrating as any of those games, I almost did.
Every little kid wanted to be a dinosaur at one time (I know it’s a generalization, but fuck you, it’s my article), but no one ever acted on it outside of that one weird kid who sat in the back in grade school (you know who I’m talking about. The one who either grew up to be an IT god or got arrested for public indecency…or both). For the first time, I was able to play as a creature that was advertised as becoming extinct 65 million years ago despite dying out 71-75 million years ago!
HERE’S WHAT I REMEMBER:
The stage design seemed to have been designed for the Raptor rather than Grant. I remember being able to navigate areas with ease whereas previously I would die over and over again. It’s possible that you could fall off the screen to your death, but I always hit the platform I aimed for. I can’t remember exactly how much of each level is the same, and I DO remember differences in the paths you can take, but I’m relatively sure the majority of the Raptor campaign is a cut and paste job from Grant’s.
Playing as the Raptor was not only easier, it was satisfying. I remember feeling powerful. The enemies were now humans, and while they had their darts and cattle prods, I had a big meaty leg with natural knives attached. Two or three swipes and I was the only one standing! On top of that, there are these little bastard compys strutting around, occasionally deciding to attack, becoming a nuisance. As Alan Grant, I’d end up wasting ammo, getting swarmed and stunlocked, and dying from these little shits. As the Raptor, I just fucking ate them.
Unlike Grant’s campaign, I was able to beat the Raptor portion. Because of this, I played ‘Jurassic Park’ over and over again, occasionally switching back to Grant to see if I could suddenly stomach his sloppy gameplay. Needless to say, I couldn’t. ‘Jurassic Park’ may have been the first game I officially beat. While I played my fair share of NES games, I never felt that completing them was the objective. It’s beautiful really. Before I was a bitter asshole, pissed that I don’t have time to go through all the games on my Steam list, there was a time when I had fun just to have fun.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP?
With the exception of a few issues, the Raptor portion of the game is FAR more playable. The frame rate will still drop to the single digits, and attacks will occasionally miss their mark, but compared to the shit fest that was the Alan Grant campaign, it’s a goddamn masterpiece. At no point during my playthrough did I mysteriously fall through the floor or watch certain doom slowly come my way like I was in an ‘Austin Powers’ movie.
The Raptor controlled a bit differently than I remember. The attacks, biting and kicking, were standard despite the occasional hit detection issue I mentioned above, but not everything was as intuitive. Pressing up makes you jump higher, which made sense, yet pressing up is also what makes you run faster. Most games would have you double tap forward or backwards to speed up since it gives you the feeling of adding additional speed. Holding up and forward felt like I was about to tell a racist joke and had to look in EVERY direction before running away.
I was a bit off the mark regarding the level design. The locations were similar, which meant similar assets, but it’s not like the developers just hit Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V. Since the “story” is that the Raptor is chasing Grant across the island because…reasons, wandering through the same locations didn’t feel like lazy retreading. Most of what I remembered about traversing remained true. I never fell into a void and I always grabbed onto platforms. The the strangest thing I realized was that it was easier to get around if you played the game like ‘Super Mario Bros’. There’s no point biting and kicking when jumping on top of enemies would take them out just as easily, plus it gives you a little boost while platforming.
The biggest question I was left with after my time with the Raptor portion of ‘Jurassic Park’ is why wasn’t this the entire game? It’s the most fun and least broken part of the game! It’s not perfect, but it’s at least enjoyable, and I can see why my younger self played it so much. My only guess is that BlueSky Software was given the license, someone said that playing as a Raptor would be fun, everyone agreed, but then some suit with more dollar signs in his head than ideas said “the mongoloids willing to buy this crap don’t know what dinosaurs are! Make them play as the middle aged dirt digger from the trailer!”