Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis PS2, PC, Xbox

Yes, the Easter holiday allowed a small amount of gaming time and I was able to spend some time with some of the dino games I've been neglecting because I wanted to savour rather than rush. One such game is Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis.
Run children, run!

Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, or JPOG as I will refer to it, is essentially Theme Hospital but with Dinosaurs. What do you mean what is Theme Hospital? Oh yeah, that's right I forget that kidz these days grew up in a world without Bullfrog. No wonder they're all wrong. So, to begin again. Jurassic Park:Operation Genesis, or JPOG as I will refer to it, is essentially Zoo Tycoon: Dinosaur Digs but without boring modern day animals and with better Dinosaurs in it. You have to build your own Jurassic Park, populate it with dinosaurs and then build shops and other attractions to keep the moronic masses happy because, you know, it's not deemed impressive enough that dinosaurs have been more or less brought back to the earth for your viewing pleasure unless you have a souvenir shop to go with it. So you go about building your park but you have to fund palaeontological digs in order to dig up fossils in order to get enough fossil material to SCIENCE MAGIC HAPPENS HERE then you have dinosaurs. But don't worry because none other than Dr Alan Grant, Dr Sattler, Robert Muldoon, Sam Jackson, Dr Wu (Not that Dr Wo) and John Hammond pop up on average every ten seconds to tell you that something is broken or someone's unhappy or that someone died. If you read the instruction booklet it sounds like managing the park is going to be a nightmare because occasionally the creatures go on rampages or there's a twister that destroys your park. However, these rampages do not occur very often. Twisters do happen but are more annoying than life threatening. By far the biggest challenge is pleasing the miserable visitors. There's a nice feature (taken straight from Theme Park) that lets you check the passport of every visitor to the park and despite the fact that your park may boast up to 100 dinosaurs with countless viewing vents, domes, safari trips or balloon rides some spod will still walk around your park claiming that "there aren't enough dinosaurs" or "This place is alright". This can be remedied though, more often than not the dinosaurs will need a bit of "encouragement" from the player before "accidentally" being let out into the park to begin chomping on Giselle from Ohio who wants to see more blood or Shaun from South Korea who takes issue with the fact that you charge entry for the toilets.

Overall the game is great, you get what you pay for and in today's market you can pick up a PS2 copy of JPOG in almost every preowned Game section in the world for around £9.
FINAL ROUND. FIGHTDinosauriness: A number of the film dinosaurs return as well as some old favourites and the did-you-know-they-were-bigger-than-T.Rex newcomers like Carcharadontosaurus. Here's the full list Acrocanthosaurus, Albertosaurus, Allosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Camarasaurus, Carcharadontosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Corythosaurus, Dilophosaurus, Dryosaurus, Edmontosaurus, Gallimimus, Homacephale, Kentrosaurus, Ouranosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, Parasaurlophus, Stegosaurus, Styracosaurus, Spinosaurus, Torosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor.

Scientific Accuracy: Aside from the whole bringing dinosaurs back thing, which is the staple of every second dinosaur game, and a few scale issues it's standard fare. This game also (allegedly) lets you create mixed or single species herds and packs of dinosaurs. I've never seen this though. All I know is that no matter how many Ceratosaurus you create they all get murdered. Seriously. Just don't bother with them.

Buzz Bonus: The music is ace because it is taken straight from the film. You know, the film. Before the awful sequels. You can also unlock the theme tunes to Indiana Jones, Superman, Star Wars (all 6) and E.T! Nice.

Sea Monsters A Prehistoric Adventure- DS

Another week another Dinosaurs in Games update. Phew! You must be on the edge of your seat. Today we're going to look at a contender for Game of The Decade, National Geographic's Sea Monsters A Prehistoric Adventure on the DS. Do not be misled by the screenshot below [from IGN] what it lacks in aesthetic appeal in more than makes up for with Gameplay.
This game (also available on PS2 and Wii) is an adaptation of the National Geographic's recent IMAX blockbuster film of the same title. Now if I think National Geographic-Games-And documentary tie-in then I'm instantly forming an idea of a game in my head that's part Clever Kids in Dino Land, part Catz by Ubisoft and part whatever the latest Pixar lazy mulitplatform effort is. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

If only the DS was HD
Imagine the stealth-hit, Crackdown for the Xbox 360, but replace city heights with sea depths, replace cybernetically enhanced agent with extinct marine reptiles (and a flying one) and exchange hunting down increased abilities with collecting fossils to unlock other organisms to explore the depths with. All of this on the DS! Yes it is that good.
Playing as a Sea Monster you have to explore various marine environments to unlock the full cast of playable characters to then further explore hidden areas in order to beat all the challenges and collect all the fossils. Each reptile has advantages and disadvantages. Players start out with the generalist Thallasomedon who is quite nippy in the water but cannot go too deep in the water column before expiring. Progress then rapidly unlocks the rest of the cast. Henodus is slow, tiny and is restricted to the shallows but can dig in the sea bed to expose hidden fossils, Temnodontosaurus can dive to the sea bottom, Tylosaurus is the top predator and can bash through walls to uncover new areas. Players have to use a combination of the 7 characters in order to complete the game.

Dinosauriness: Of course, no dinosaurs but the cast of prehistoric animals is pleasantly diverse; Archelon, Cretoxyrhina, Dolichorhynchops, Enchodus, Gillicus, Henodus, Hesperornis, Kronosaurus, Nothosaurus, Pteranodon, Shonisaurus, Temnodontosaurus, Thallasomedon, Tylosaurus and Xiphactinus feature .

Scientific Accuracy: Unfortunately, not all of these creatures are coeval but unlike ever other title that makes this mistake there is a disclaimer at the beginning. So, ultimately, forgivable. But unlike the majority of other dinosaur and extinct organism titles, this one is educational but not in the usual obvious "here's a fact way" but in a more subtle learning through experience way. So for example, if I were to ask you how do marine reptiles breath underwater? Would you be able to answer confidently? Play this game and you'll know. To be commended by reviewers who can see past the simple nature of the game.
This game does show some mild strain being crammed onto the DS though. Occassionally the Cretoxyrhina sharks will swim through walls, above the surface of the sea or upside down but palaeontologists have not strictly ruled out this behaviour in organisms in this genus so who knows, it might be correct.

Buzz Bonus: Other reviewers slated this game for being too shallow but in terms of the DS this is a quietly revolutionary title. The controls are difficult at first but then quickly become second nature and the gentle exploration is engaging and relaxing. The sandbox nature of the game is a welcome addition to the DS which up until now has been primarily minigame titles or lazy RPGs that have little to offer in terms of replay value. Oh and Advance Wars. Plus it's always nice to be able to play as the creature themselves rather than continuously running from them (Dino Crisis), managing them (Operation Genesis, Zoo Tycoon) or merely learning about them (Clever Kids Dino Land). 10/10 Game of the Decade and new benchmark for dinosaurs in games (and other prehistoric creatures. In games)

Dino Master- DS

I touched on it way way back when but some dinosaur based games are so good you have to look at them twice.
On the face of it, Dino Master is a relatively simple game.
Dig, Discover and Duel if you find the other person in the world who bought this

For half the game, you play as a palaeontologist who has to look for dinosaur Greatest Game of all time 10/10fossils in six different sites spread across the globe; Africa, Eurasia, Australia, N.America, S.America and the Antarctic. You have to excavate the sites facing the usual hazards encountered on a typical palaeontological dig. By excavate sites I mean drive around isolating areas Qix style (not Qix style actually, just Qix)and by usual hazards I mean being harassed by gigantic crabs, horseshoe crabs, dragonflies and ladybirds with minions of car sized caterpillars, flies and scorpions. Upon exposing areas in the Qix game you occassionally expose a fossil which you then later get to re-animate
and battle with, either against one of five bots or over WiFi. THis last notion is a joke because I don't even know anyone else who knows about this game and I've only ever seen it for sale online. Which is sad because my Ceratosaurus could KICK SOME ASS. I imagine. The battling itself requires players to give their chosen fighter a number of techniques (which can be attacking, defensive, etc.), the number and type of techniques that can be learned varies from species to species and techniques have to be unlocked with progression through the fossil hunting stage. The battling game is then a slightly more complex version of rock paper scissors. Each dinosaur you reanimate also varies depending on the size and quality of the fossil you uncover so sometimes they will have extra attack power, or low HP which adds another slight element to the strategy which is all academic anyway because I doubt a single person has ever played this game over wi-fi. Seriously. Let me know if you have but I bet the experience was ultimately unrewarding.

Dinosauriness: A whopping 100 different species of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals some you'll recognise, some you won't, some old skool ones and some brand spanking new finds. Here's a not so completed list because I'm struggling to collect the last 22 species. Here's the list so far Abelisaurus, Amargasaurus, Anatotitan, Apatosaurus, Archeaoceratops, Aralosaurus, Argentinosaurus, Borthriospondylus, Breviceratops, Carcharadontosaurus, Carnotaurus, Centrosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Chungkingosaurus, Cryolophosaurus, Dacentrurus, Daspletosaurus, Deinocheirus, Deinonychus, Dicraeosaurus, Dromiceiomimus, Dsungaripterus, Einiosaurus, Elaphrosaurus, Euplocephalus, Futubasaurus, Gallimimus, Gargoyleosaurus, Giganotosaurus, Gondwanatitan, Gorgosaurus, Goyocephale, Harpymimus, Huayangosaurus, Hydrotherosaurus, Ichthyosaurus, Indosuchus, Kentrosaurus, Kritosaurus, Lambeosaurus, Lexovisaurus, Majungatholus, Megalosaurus, Monolophosaurus, Montanaceratops, Nanotyranus, Neovenator, Opisthocoelicaudia, Opthalmosaurus, Parasaurlophus, Pinacosaurus, Pelaneustes, Pelecanimimus, Pentaceratops, Plateosaurus, Pleurocoelus, Prenocephale, Pteranodon, Saichania, Saltasaurus, Sauroposeidon, Scipionyx, Saurornitholestes, Stegoceras, Stenopterygius, Stygimoloch, Styracosaurus, Suchomimus, Supersaurus, Tapejara, Toopkusaura, Torosaurus, Tuojiangosaurus, Trinacromerum, Tyrannosaurus, Udanoceratops, Unenlagia and Utahraptor.

Scientific Accuracy: For the sheer number of genera included this title is by and large very accurate. There are a few issues arising. Bizarrely Plateosaurus is included as a plesiosaur and on the dino rebuild screen, Icthyosaurs, Plesiosaurs and Pterosaurs are listed as Gyoryu, Cubinagaryu and Yocuryu 'kinds'??? Some may complain that real palaeontological digs are not undertaken by driving a jeep around in perpendicular lines whilst being harassed by giant invertebrates but those people would be liars friends. Liars. Listen to them not a word more.

Buzz Bonus: For what the game lacks in the polish that say, Halo might have in spades it is an addictive game that has kept me up until 3 or 4 in the morning on occassion with "just one more go". For dino lovers it's great with a big list of extinct creatures to find and it's also good for passing a bus journey or tube journey with a couple of fossils hunts. Some other """Sites""" that reviewed it complained that the touch screen controls were unreliable. Sadly this is the liars at work again friends. How they live with themselves I do not know. So far in this existence it's my favourite game of all time!

Next week on Cunzy1 1's Dinosaurs in Games: I finally bought myself a copy of Sea Monsters A Prehistoric Adventure for the DS so expect a skit sometime soon. The low down is it could be great. The expectation is it won't be that great. But what is the reality?

Clever Kids: DinoLand

Yeah, so the old format wasn't working too well so from now on I'm going to update the site every time I play a new dinosaur game. So what better way to re-launch the site than to look at Midas' Clever Kids Dino Land.

Clever kids

The gaming establishment said that the PS2 era was over. They said that next-gen is the way forward. This game proves them all wrong. I picked up my copy for a mere £8. Perhaps the best 8 pounds I ever did spend.

The game (philistines may claim it is aimed at the kids) is a series of dinosaur themed minigames set in the titular DINOLAND. Dino Land appears to be nothing more than a 2D landscape with 6 dinosaurs in it but oh what a land! Lucky players have to solve complex puzzles (with upward of five pieces!) in order to unlock such wondrous dinosaur themed games as 'Trax', Slide Puzzles, Target Practice and Spot the Difference. The game is so forward looking that you don't even need a memory card! A mere passcode will work (hint star, star, cross, square is the code to unlock all the minigames). What a future looking title, if only some of the triple AAA games would take a leaf out of the CKDL book. Anyway, on with the overview.

Dinosauriness: A number of dinosaurs are present as well as the usual extinct prehistoric critters: Amargasaurus, Brachiosaurs, Deinonychus, Euplocephalus, Mammoth, Plesiosaurus, Pterodactyl, Pteranodon, Shunosaurus, Spinosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Troodon, Tsintasurus, Tyrannosaurs and Velociraptor.

Scientific Accuracy: For a low budget Edutainment (or is that Infocation) title there are a surprising number of misnomers, weird language use and factual inaccuracies. Mammoths, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs and icthyosaurs are unashamedly called dinosaurs and there is no attempt to highlight that they aren't. The game also claims that Ultrasaurus is unequivocally the biggest dinosaur known. Firstly, Ultrasaurus is the genus of an insect not a dinosaur so it should be Ultrasauros but even then the correct name for this species is Supersaurus and was changed over 10 years ago, so triply wrong. Furthermore, it's not too clear if it even is the biggest dinosaur (Sauroposeidon is a recent candidate for bigger). Doesn't anyone fact check these games? Also, the sentence "Tyrannosaurus was born in the late cretaceous" wouldn't sit well with most palaeontologists either. Some of these mistakes have been seen time and time again and are always pointed out by some nit picking scientist and it's a bit saddening to see them reproduced here especially for a title aimed at the "kidz". Overall it's a bit too naughty and lazy 3/10.

Buzz Bonus: On the pause screen you can check your progress in the minigames. Completing all the games, slide puzzles and spot the differences will get you a higher result on the "Dino meter". I have a serious problem with slide puzzles though so I only ever managed to reach Brachiosaurus status :(