Escape the Museum and Jurassic: The Hunted.

Escape it!Ever since gaming got mainstream, the hardcore have complained that games have been ruined. More people now play hidden object games or social games through facebook than those really good games about big marines shooting aliens. Gaming proper is officially dead. Long live gaming.

Except when your hidden object game has dinosaurs in it! In which case, screw hardcore gaming we didn't like it anyway and step up Escape the Museum for the PC and now for the Wii!

We haven't played it yet because it is still £14.99 and we'll wait until it drops to around £5. We have to be careful though because once games go to £5 they next just dissappear from the internet and you have to go looking in dirty pawn shops and antique shows in order to find them again.

What no feathers?SURPISE DINOSAUR GAME! Also expect to see Jurassic: The Hunted in stores soon for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii. It looks like next gen finally got on the dinosaur train. And we haven't been this happy for SEGA. It is a shame that Activision didn't get Flash Bang's memo about feathers though :( A possible step backwards for dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures in games.

Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise- Xbox 360

I am painfully aware that there should be an accent somewhere over one of those letters up there in the post title. I apologise but it doesn't matter anyway because SHOCK HORROR do we have a drop in standards by covering this game?

Very early on, I made it clear what exactly constituted a dinosaur and/or prehistoric creature and hence what kinds of things I would and wouldn't be covering. So for example, Yoshi would not count as a dinosaur but Rampardos would. Where is the rationale you might ask? Well it's my blog and I'll do what I want. Plus those Pinatas are so adorable I just had to include Choclodocus even though I imagine it won't exactly flourish in the following analysis:

Choclodocus in one of it's forms. Is it too early to declare it the cutest dinosaur or prehistoric creature ever in a game?

Dinosauriness: Well a Choclodocus (should I italicize it? yes, yes I should) can take many forms, shall we say 'taking inspiration' from such dinosaurs as Ankylosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops and some kind of Sauropod.

Scientific Accuracy: Well it does look very cute. Look at his liddle face. I don't think we need to ruin the atmosphere by going on and on about scientific accuracy. Do you?

Buzz Bonus: I was rooting around the internet and came across the following coded message "Place the skull, ribs, spine, and amber gem into a store house. Eventually they will fuse into a Choclodocus egg. This egg can be hatched by a Cluckles wearing a Jurassic Hair accessory". Presumably that means something to somebody but alas that person isn't me.

How to get dinosaurs into your game

Boy! Playing all these dinosaur games for this site is tricky. Especially when your dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures don't appear until right at the end! Syberia I'm talking about you. So today I'm gonna be taking a different tactic so that this site isn't months and months between updates.

The inaugural post in this series is how to gets them Dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures into your games. Are you making a game right now? Trying to find an angle to get some of them extinct beauts in? Then you've come to the right place.

Clone 'em in! Largely inspired by Jurassic Park many games including the JP games use artistic licence with current scientific cloning knowledge to justify them dinos. Just dig up some fossils, umm clone them, voila. Ici est un dino!
Scientific Accuracy: Way off. Way way off. Like, seriously. Way. Off. Cloning technology for animals that still exist struggles to get it right. Cloning animals when we have some of their DNA is still completely unsuccessful e.g Thylacine, Mammoths. Cloning animals when their DNA has never been found is, as I type, pure science fiction.
As seen in: All the Jurassic Park games and Killer Instinct.

Reconstruct them in! Only slightly different from the above method in that cloning isn't explicitly mentioned. It normally involves some mysterious process off screen. Excavate a fossil pop it into a machine at a lab and hey presto! You've got your dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. Just don't ask us how we did it. Its science and stuff.
Scientific Accuracy: Since the process is not available for us to assess it is impossible to comment other than to say hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm really?
As seen in: Tekken, Small Arms, Pokemon, Dino Master.

They were hiding all the time! You just weren't looking properly. Lost Valleys, remote islands and inhabitable climates are the staple hiding place for most dinosaurs and other extinct species. But be warned! It makes a little bit more sense if your dinosaurs are in an ecosystem that could actually support them. The dinosaurs in Tomb Raider are all obligate carnivores and in Tomb Raider 2 generations of Tyrannosaurus rex seem to have survived and propagated for millions of years in a giant, featureless pit. It a make a no sense!
Scientific accuracy: This method of getting dinosaurs into your game is probably the least offensive to scientific reason and many modern day 'sightings' of dinosaurs and dinosaur myths seem to centre around remote unexplored regions.
As seen in: Peter Jackson's King Kong the Official Game of the Movie, Syberia, Tomb Raider.

Riding around on a dinosaur has never looked so un-fun
Have a Museum!This is where most people see dinosaur and other prehistoric creature remains and many games have museums packed with skeletons of prehistoric creatures. More often than not though the beautiful skeletons are destructible playgrounds :( Also, this means that your dinosaurs have to be pretty static unless you go for a Night at the Museum thang.
Scientific Accuracy: As long as your fossils aren't coming alive at night due to an ancient Egyptian artifact or zombie curse and all the bones are in the right places you're alright by me.
As seen in: Animal Crossing, GTA IV, Stranglehold, Evil Dead Fistful of Boomstick, Siphon Filter.

Time travel/Bending! Can't find a way to bring the dinosaurs to your characters? Then bring the characters to the dinosaurs. Crazy scientists can be working on a time travel device when it goes wrong, time travel technology just inexplicably exists or you can always invoke an anomaly. Choose your method just don't expect a physicist to endorse your product.
Scientific Accuracy: See cloning.
As seen in: Dino Crises, Fossil League, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Paraworld.

Just don't explain at all why they are there Hey! It's your game. Do what you want. Most games would be very boring indeed if we stayed within the realms of what is possible in real life. Alternatively, you can go for a mixed message like Dino King which just seems to be very confused as to how the dinosaurs get there. Something about some stones and a meteorite? It doesn't matter.
Scientific accuracy: Nothing is impossible! It's just that most things are improbable.
As seen in: Dino King, DoA 4.

They're just there okay! It's not important how they got there but they are here! That's all that counts. So have fun.
Scientific Accuracy: In a time before Wikipedia things could just be the way they are without an army of people constructing possible causation theories. It's fiction for god's sake!
As seen in: Off Road Velociraptor Safari, Doritos Dash of Destruction, 101 Dino Pets, Deathtrap Dungeon, Timesplitters.

Its all about the timing. Conscious about offending your palaeontologist friends? Unwilling to contravene science with time travel or over ambitious cloning projects? Then simple. Just set your whole game in the world of the dinosaurs and/or prehistoric creatures. That's allowed. But it does mean that you can't have any human protagonists but often I find them overrated anywho.
Scientific Accuracy: As long as your environments are good palaeo environments and there are no anachronistic blunders your game will be good until a new scientific discovery goes and ruins it all.
As seen in: Sea Monsters: A prehistoric adventure, Jurassic Realm, Ice Age, Dinosaur!

In the wind.. Fossil Fighters, Ice Age 3 and Go Diego Go! Great Dinosaur Rescue

Oh what a surprise! A DS based Pokemon rip-off where collecting fossils, cleaning them, reviving them and then battling with them is the order of the day.

This does make a refreshing change (See also Dino Master and Fossil League: Dino Tournament Championship).

I'm going to resist the temptation to review it from prerelease videos and screenshots although we all know it's going to be so-so. And the dinosaurs are all made up :(

Ice Age 3 plods onto every console going as did the first two games of the films. Expect generic platforming. It's hard to get excited about these when the previous ones were playable but mediocre. It's even harder just contemplating the wedging the dinosaurs into the Ice Age format. Still final judgement to be reserved after I play through all fourteen versions.

Go Diego Go! Great Dinosaur Rescue. Firstly why are the not so great dinosaurs not worth rescuing? And also...just no. Just no. I'll be honest, the to do list just got a new last place with this game.

Tot ziens!

Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie-Almost every platform

Widely (and rightly) ridiculed for it's ridiculous name, this game was released on a shed load of platforms. Some of them were surprisingly good considering the film tie in (PS2) and some were pretty bad (GBAand the DS version ). Either way dinosaurs were a feature of the films and games and they are a delight in this title. Fans of dinosaurs in games should endeavour to pick this title up (on the consoles) as rarely have nicer dinosaurs been seen on the little screen.

This screenshot is cool. From Gamespot obviouslyDinosauriness: A number of dinosaurs with very silly names. Quite why the silly names I'm not too sure. Perhaps it is so that know-it-all palaeontologists can't later poo poo some of the made up dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures as they are want to do. Perhaps there has been some crazy isolated insular evolution going on on Skull Island which led to the total loss of feathers. And silly names. Anyway there's some sauropod ones, theropod ones, some hadrosaurs, some permian mammal-alikes, ancient giant crocodiles, some pterosaurs and the very silly named Vastatosaurus rex.

Scientific Accuracy: I quite like the idea of making up some dinosaurs rather than lazily skimming described species. This gives you a lot of artistic freedom and a way to ignore the palaeontologists who go to cinemas and concentrate on biodynamics and scale rather than the action/drama etc. I'm giving it a 5/10 but only because it could be a 0/10 (they are all made up) or a 10/10 (they made them up so how can it be inaccurate?).

Buzz Bonus: All dinosaur fans should play this game. It has some nice settings some cool set pieces and spear throwing. Who doesn't love themselves some spear throwing?

Tekken 2, Tekken Tag Tournament-Arcade/PlayStation, PlayStation 2

Like or hate Tekken, Alex is in Tekken 2 and Tekken Tag Tournament. Alex is a dinosaur (albeit a dinosaur cloney job [as they so often are]). Alex is a weird name for a dinosaur fighter guy. Apparently he was created by Doctor Boskonovitch and learned how to wrestle from Armo(u)r King. He currently resides in Australia.
AlexDinosauriness: Hard to judge really. Alex was created by extracting 'something' from a fossil tentatively from the dromaeosauridae family. Judging from the state of him this is probably correct.

Scientific Accuracy: Well. The usual extraction from fossils, no feathers etc. etc. caveats. All in all 4, no 3 out of 10 for accuracy. Maybe that's too generous. 2? 1? It's hard to say. Make your own mind up.

Buzz Bonus: Alex was in the Tekken animated film. Although it wasn't Alex. They were called Rex. Under no circumstances watch the animated film. It is bad. No. Awful. Word.

The to do list

I haven't even included Braid yet!
So little time. So much to do! Here is the to do list in case you were wondering WHY THE HELL I HADN'T GOT ROUND TO LOOKING AT Land Before Time: Into the Mysterious Beyond Yet.

Playing all these through takes time peeps! And some of them are shovelware to the max.

Batman Lego, BUZZ! JUNIOR DINO DEN, Carnivores, Carnivores 2, Carnivore Ice Age, Carnivores Cityscape, Combat of giants: Dinosaurs, Dino Hunter, Dino Land, Dinotopia: The Sunstone Odyssey, Dino Stalker, Dinosaur park, Disney's Dinosaur x 3, DoA 4, Dinosaur World, Evil Dead Fistful of Boomstick, Fossil Fighters, Fossil League Dino Tournament Championship, Go Diego Go Great Dinosaur Rescue, Ice Age, Ice Age 2, Ice Age 3, Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park Trespasser, Jurassic Park Dino Defender, The Land Before Time: Into The Mysterious Beyond, Lost World: Jurassic Park, Siphon Filter, Splashdown 2, Syberia, Syberia II, Tomb Raider 3, Tomb Raider 10th Anniversary Edition, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Turok Evolution, Turok (Xbox 360), Turok Rage Wars, Turok 2 Seeds of Evil, Warcraft III, War of the monsters and Zoo Tycoon: Dinosaur digs.

There's more out there, I know it. Apologies peeps.

Small Arms- Xbox 360

Small arms is a poor man's (and suitably cheaper) Super Smash Brothers. The idea is to jump around and beat the other guys but without all the tech. The characters are cutesy and a little more-than-a-little-bit Fur fighters. It's available on Xbox Live Arcade which means that a gazillion people played it for two days before going onto the next PlayStation-era-esque throw away.

Regardless of the merits of Xbox Live arcade, Tyrone, one of the characters in small arms is a dinosaur!

This is my evidence

Dinosauriness: Some kind of genericy raptor jobby.

Scientific Accuracy: He was created in a science research facility, a la Riptor from Killer Instinct so it may be possible that he doesn't have feathers, is ludicrously coloured and carries and ice ray thing to fight a mouse, a chicken and a small ninja woman. Overall 7/10.

Buzz bonus: Tyrone falls very close to the line of being a not real dinosaur (like Yoshi or godzilla and therefore not eligible to be covered here) but he has such a nice little face. Look at his face. Lovely.

Dino King-DS

At first glance, Dino King from Sega on the DS appears to fall into the same trappings as Fossil Torunament and the battling sections of Dino Master for the same platform. That is trying to be Pokemon but failing in terms of execution, depth, playability and a lot of thought and some nice extra touches.

Fossil tournament fails purely because even until late in the game, moves consistently miss so even in battles where levels and numbers mean the odds are vastly stacked in the player's favour it is still possible to lose because you just can't hit the oponent for no clear reason. The battling sections in Dino Master (largely an after thought and completely uneccessary considering the Qix and collect section of the game is so addictive) fail because combat is a little too random. On top of mechanics, neither of these games serve up a good storyline and the niche appeal of these titles means you can scour the earth and the internet and you'll never find someone to fight against over wi-fi or DS to DS play.

So it was with some trepedation that Dino King went into the DS. After a couple of hours of play though it appears to actually be quite engaging. The top down view is completely stolen from pokemon and the gameboy link games and the storyline won't be winning any awards anytime soon (the game literally starts off with a device for bringing dinosaurs back to life being invented and two seconds later stolen by the bad guys).

Instead of complex movesets a la Pokemon or the random attacks of Dino Master, combat is actually paper, scissors, stone. This image on the back of the box put me off buying this title simply because I still have Fossil Tournament to beat and I didn't fancy more random battling from start to finish. However, what appears to be a very simple way of deciding combat is actually more complex and all the more engaging for it. Firstly different species of dinosaurs have different critical moves so my Triceratops has a critical move on scissors. But rather than simply guessing your attack, enemies give off clues as to which moves they will be using. This starts off simple enemies telling you: "I'm going to go for my critical attack" to which the correct response would be to look at the enemy critical sign e.g. paper and choose scissors. Later on in the game, characters give you more complex cues like "Critical moves are a no no" meaning they won't use their critical move (e.g. Rock) so you have to choose one of the remaining symbols that beats the other remaining symbol (in this case scissors would be the correct choice).

Maybe it doesn't sound so great but after numerous battles your head starts to overthink the moves and you end up making some silly mistakes but this beats totally random battles or battles that would otherwise be too easy. The moves look good and are animated in 3D and unlike Fossil Tournament the moves aren't exactly copied (names and all; tail swipe, bite etc.) from pokemon red/blue. A black mark on scientific accuracy though as some moves make the dinosaurs perform physics defying, back breaking moves. One move, 'boomerang attack', sees the dinosaur jump into the air, tuck it's tail under it's chin and do a spin attack. From the opening FMV it looks like fire breathing may feature down the line too :(

As is standard for DS dinosaur games the collect 'em up part involves collecting and excavating fossils. This is done by using a radar and a drill and although isn't quite as fun as the cave excavation in Pokemon it's okay. You then have to clean the fossils in order to be able to turn them into cards, to summon, to use in battles. The cleaning section seems broken as your pick (the stylus) seems to break well before you could ever completely expose a fossil but you get the dinosaur anyway. Maybe I'm missing something though.

It'll be interesting to see how Combat of Giants (see yesterday's post for the trailer) compares but until then Dino King is a good title with an unusual amount of effort put in, considering it could have been a very shallow agme. I'm only two hours in but I'll post up more details when I have em.

Dinosauriness: Over 70 dinosaur species according to the back of the box but the species list seems to be quite comprehensive, somewhere between Fossil Tournament and the impressive Dino Master in terms of taxonomic coverage. Tyrannosaurs rex makes an early appearence as the nemesis and Triceratops or Ceratosaurus? are the squirtle and bulbasaur you have to choose from at the start. The first level (Euro Town) has such dinosaurs as Dacenturus, Gorgosaurus, Iguanaodon, Irritator and Wuerhosaurus . So it's clear we're not just dealing with the Hollywood stars.

Scientific Accuracy: The usual bringing dinosaurs back problems as well as biodynamically impossible moves and stratigraphically puzzling sequences are all correct and present. There appears to be some minor scale inaccuracies too. No feathers either but hey that's pretty much every dinosaur game right?

Buzz Bonus: The receptionist or assistant at the D-site is called Minmi which is a cool name for a person and used to be the shortest dinosaur genus until Mei was named.

Super Smash Brothers Brawl-Wii

It did get a mention a while back but SSBB does have something of the dinosaur about it. On the Pokemon Stadium 2 level you can find fossils of Kabutops and Omastar. You want proof? Okay.

Kabutops fossilHere is the Kabutops fossil complete with palaeontological tools and field map.

Omastar fossilHere is the spiral shell of an Omastar awaiting excavation. It's Tricky
Tricky the Triceratops from Starfox Adventures also features as one of the trophies.

Dinosauriness: Ammonites, Trilobites and a Triceratops.

Scientific Accuracy: In a universe where plumbers fight pink blobs who can swallow other people ummmmm? 2/10?

Buzz Bonus: The trophy Diorama mode in SSBB is simply brilliant. That is a truth.

Off Road Velociraptor Safari- PC

Velociraptor Safari from Flashbang studios is yet another great and free dinosaur game. Play it in your browser now you crazy boyos.

The aim of the game is to drive around in a jeep as a monocled Velociraptor and using ramps, speed boosts and a genius spiked ball that comes out the back of your jeep you need to take down some wild Velociraptors, with panache and style. Although it looks simple it can be tricksy but judging from the highest scores you can get a knack from running down your feathered kin.

Dinosauriness: Velociraptor galor, a Triceratops skull sits in the back of your jeep and an unidentified pterosaur flies around in the sky.

Scientific accuracy: Major kudos to the inclusion of feathers (which some gamers questioned). 8.5/10.

Buzz Bonus: The achievements are truly great. This whole game shows more polish and attention to detail than many other current releases. Sad really :(

Doritos Dash of Destruction- Xbox, Xbox 360

A solidly great game. TrulyIs now free to download on Xbox live. Despite being a free game and one that is corporate sponsored it is probably one of the best single screen co-op games in the world. Much better than the new Battlefront:Lord of the Rings edition by a long shot.

The premise of the game, if that is the right phrase, is that you have to deliver doritos around town but a number of Tyrannosaurus rex and other delivery drivers try to stop you. Pretty straight forward really but very very playable. In multuiplayer if you get stomped by a T.rex you then become a T.rex. First to 20 odd number of deliveries is the winner!

Now for the breakdown.

Dinosauriness: Just T.rex yet again. But it comes in a range of neon colours which some consider a measure of awesomeness.

Scientific Accuracy: No feathers, unlikely colours but scale is okay. Umm 4/10 for this one.

Buzz Bonus: This game is allegedly the easiest XBLA game to earn all the achievments for so now you have four reasons to get hold of it*

*Because it is great. Because it is free. Because you can get easy cheevos and because it has dinosaurs in it.

Happy 2009!

Happy new year all. It's 2009, year of the dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures in games. That may not be true but there is plenty of dinosauriness in games stuff going on. First up, a game that slipped under my radar is Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs, a DS game you won't find in stores because it doesn't have a 'z' on the end. Here's the trailer:

Which I think you'll agree looks kind of cool. The problem is that it is probably yet another wannabe pokemon game. Along with Dino Master, Dino King and Fossil Tournament, both extensions of dig/catch, train and battle games these games suffer from trying to be Pokemon but despite the richer (and realer) source material they often lack the depth and playability of the pokemon games. However, I'll reserve final judgement for when I've played what looks to be the best dinosaur game on the DS so far.