Review of the Jurassic Park Classic Games Collection – an excellent opportunity to revisit a forgotten era of gaming.
During the mid-1990s, it was determined that a blockbuster movie was not fully finished until it had been adapted into a difficult platformer or arcade game, specifically intended to anger and annoy children. Disney’s unwavering adaptations of Aladdin and The Lion King were notable examples, as were Probe Software’s demanding Robocop 3 and Alien 3 games.
However, Ocean, a long-standing publisher in Manchester, was also a major contributor. Throughout the 1980s, the company focused on producing video games based on popular TV shows and movies such as Miami Vice, Top Gun, and Highlander. Among their most ambitious projects were their adaptations of the 1993 film Jurassic Park, which are now being released as a collection by retro label Limited Run Games. This collection includes the NES, SNES, and Game Boy versions of the game, as well as the sequel Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues and two Mega Drive tie-ins developed by Bluesky Software: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition. In total, this collection offers seven doses of nostalgic dinosaur chaos.
To be completely honest, the games were not considered exceptional at the time they were released. The original NES version of Jurassic Park is a shooter game that is viewed from a top-down perspective. In the game, you collect ID cards and eggs while shooting at prehistoric creatures and trying to escape the island. There are some moments in the game that are recognizable from the movie, but overall it is similar to the arcade game Commando from 1985. Jurassic Park: The Chaos Continues is a decent platform shooter game with some cinematic sequences, but it came out during a time when many other games were also platform shooters. The Mega Drive titles were adventure platforming games heavily influenced by games like Flashback and Another World. They also featured smooth character animation and a cinematic storytelling style.
Limited Run has done a great job of organizing and keeping these digital relics up-to-date for modern players and fans of the movie series who may have missed out on them previously. This includes the ability to save your progress at any point in the games and the ability to rewind time, so you don’t have to constantly start from the beginning of each level due to challenging jumps. There are also options to play in full screen or stick with the original display ratio, as well as platform-specific filters such as CRT scanlines for console titles and a dot matrix style for Game Boy adaptations. Limited Run has even added new maps for those who may struggle with navigating through the vast dinosaur enclosure. My only disappointment is the lack of a museum section with information about the original games and potential images of packaging and advertisements. Limited Run did provide a booklet with physical copies of the release, but those have already sold out.
As someone who originally played these games, encountering them now without their original context is a nostalgic experience. The advanced graphics of the Mega Drive era, such as digitized versions of the T rex, and the efforts to recreate scenes and moments from the films – such as the opening gates, crashed jeeps, computer interfaces, and the dilophosaurus spitting – show how game designers had to work hard to capture the essence of TV and movie material. Interestingly, while I appreciate the option to play as either Dr. Grant or a velociraptor in the Mega Drive versions, it is the Game Boy versions that are most enjoyable and easy to play now, with their simple controls and familiar platforming elements. They could easily be mistaken for modern indie games.
The same arguments that apply to all retro compilations also apply to this release: you can locate these games online and use an open source emulator to play them for free, but you won’t have access to modern save functions. Alternatively, you could purchase an original console and obtain a copy of the games on eBay, but this option would be more costly and less reliable. For those who are fans of Jurassic Park and enjoy retro gaming, this is a great opportunity to revisit a lost era of gaming.