Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition

The original Jurassic Park Genesis game took the top spot on our list of “The Worst Genesis Games You’ve Probably Heard Of”, so it probably goes without saying that we didn’t really have high expectations for this one. And by that I mean that I half-expected to turn the game on and have a digitized T-Rex yelling at me for my poor taste in games. Instead what we get is mostly a lot more of the same, except now the already remarkable amount of insanity has been cranked up a few more notches. Considering that the first game included a level where Dr. Grant voluntarily climbed into a dinosaur filled active volcano, and another part where he just happened to find a rocket launcher laying around the would-be theme park, that’s really saying something.

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Oh, alright, so we’re just letting the triceratops ride boats now.  Fine.

Much like the first Jurassic Park game for the Genesis, Rampage Edition gives you the option to play either as Dr. Grant or as a Raptor. As in the first game, the game was really designed to be played as Dr. Grant, with the Raptor portions being something of an afterthought – mostly a lot of throwaway sections that nobody really seems to have put much time or effort into. That’s not to say that it isn’t still more fun to play as the raptor – the development team did such a lousy job making the game that having them put less effort into an area generally means they had less time to screw it up. Besides, this way you get to play as a ferocious dinosaur.

According to Stryker, a lot of copies of Rampage Edition got traded in while he owned the game store, and not a single one of them ever had the box or instructions. I only mention it because if at times it seems as if we didn’t exactly know what was supposed to be going on, that’s why. The fact that there’s no opening text or cinematic didn’t help, either. Come to think of it, neither did the fact that almost everything you do or see in the game is complete madness.

In the first game, your motivations were pretty clear – Dr. Grant was trying to escape the island, and the raptor was trying to eat him. This no longer seems to be the case – on the level select screen, one of Grant’s first options is the cargo ship. Presumably this ship leaves the island, allowing Grant to escape. However, he seems to have no intentions of doing so, instead mowing down everyone in his path with a rather impressive arsenal of weapons. Admittedly, that may be because the ship has been hijacked by what appears to be German soldiers from WW2, which I believe would effectively make them Nazi Pirates. So at least the game has that going for it. Even so, Grant’s intentions appear to be, at best, unclear at this point, and at worst, homicidal.

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A Raptor does a somersault jump in order to reach the flying candy bar. You know, like on those nature shows.

And of course, this being a Jurassic Park game, the Nazi Pirates are working in tandem with angry dinosaurs. Because all dinosaurs apparently love Hitler. And of course, eating you. Never fear though, because the cautious, middle-aged Dr. Grant from the movie has been replaced by a new and improved pistol-twirling, machine gun toting action hero who is perfectly comfortable blasting raptors with a shotgun and disintegrating Pirate Nazis into dust with some kind of a super taser. And those aren’t hyperbolic examples I just made up, those are things that you actually will be doing throughout this game. Rather frequently. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that Grant’s real objective here is to simply exterminate every living thing on the island. Perhaps there was some kind of explanation for this transformation from intellectual scientist to raging psychopath, but if so, it must have been included in the missing instruction booklet.

Still, even considering the introduction of Pirate Nazis to the Jurassic Park universe, nothing I’ve described so far comes anywhere close to the craziness of the Savanna level, where Grant rides a dinosaur while shooting down helicopters. You know, just like in the movie. I mean, not the Jurassic Park movie, obviously, but like some other really fucked up movie that featured a bizarre time-warped version of a wild west show. He even yells “Yee-haw!” right before jumping onto the back of the dino. I wish I was making this up, but here’s a picture:

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In the first Genesis game, the Raptor wanted to eat Grant at all costs, even though it usually meant rushing past hundreds of similarly flavored JP workers. In this game however, the focus is much more on killing other dinosaurs, fighting the invading Pirate Nazis, and trying to avoid being shot in the ass by helicopters (this last one is much harder than it sounds). Since the Raptor now seems to have the same objectives as Grant, one cannot help but wonder if they have put aside their differences and have begun working as a team. The game never says so explicitly, but perhaps this was covered in the instructions. It would certainly help to explain Grant’s bloodthirsty ways.

In order to make the game more scientifically accurate, the raptor no longer replenishes health from eating other dinosaurs of humans, instead relying on a steady diet of candy bars to stay alive. You’ll remember this from the movie, where to Australian guy (no, not Dr. Grant, the other one with the funny hat) explains how all the dinos on the island have a genetic dependency that will cause them to die if they aren’t given candy bars by the staff. Or that might have been lysine. Maybe they’re lysine candy bars. In addition to a craving for Hershey bars, the raptor also now has a fearsome double-jump, which allows him to practically fly through the stage. Recent research suggests was a pretty well-known trait of the species. Don’t forget, these guys evolved into birds – even the word “Raptor” means “bird of prey”!

You’re also supposed to collect what appears to be car batteries… I don’t exactly understand why.

You know what though? Games do crazy stuff like this all the time. All the deviations from the original movie, and to a much greater extent reality, would be entirely permissible if the game were any good. Of course it’s not – if there’s one thing that didn’t change that much from the original, it’s the failure of the game’s overall design. Enemies bombard you in such overwhelming numbers that it usually makes more sense to try and rush through each level blindly, rather than really try to play the game. The levels are poorly designed, with plenty of areas to get stuck in, hazards and attackers besieging you from off screen, and my all-time favorite, the ever-popular stages where falling can either lead you to the rest of the level, or else kill you instantly, with no way to know until you try it. Playing the game isn’t exactly an exercise in frustration, but I’d say irritation is a pretty accurate description. Much like the original, Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition is the antithesis of fun.

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