Disney's Dinosaur

Disney's Dinosaur was a game that was released on virtually every single platform at the time, Game Boy Colour, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast and Windows. I've been meaning to pick up a copy of this game for a long long time.

It's a Ubisoft game, when Ubi wasn't so fussy about not for making awful games before the days of Assasin's Creed. That being said, this game (the PS2 version at least) isn't as bad as I expected. It isn't as good as it could have been either. The game plays like a bit like Baldur's Gate is as much as it an isometric 'dungeon crawler', although the water isn't as good as in Baldur's Gate. A nice twist on the dungeon crawling is that you need to combine the specific skills of Aladar the Iguanodon, Flia a Pteranodon and Zini a lemur to make it through levels that roughly follow the plot of the film. There's a neat little squad organising mechanic that makes it easy to split your team of three or to combine them all together. Aladar can give out and take a lot of damage, Zini can climb up ladders and hurl stones at enemies and to create walkways and Flia, who has been created specifically for the game, can act as a scout, access areas the land dwellers can't as well as being able to pick up and carry objects. The game occasionally falters in that unintuitive and cryptic mechanics are sometimes introduced in order to progress through levels requiring a number of frustrating failures in order to work out what you're supposed to do. Some sections also suffer from the classic problem in that bridges and ledges require a careful navigation that simply isn't possibly with the unrefined controls. I had to restart a couple of the escort missions because I'd fall off a ledge and respawn to find my escortees blocking the way through. As you can see below, the game isn't exactly a looker but it deserves some credit for not being a Pokemon clone, RTS or light gun game as so many of these Dinosaurs and other prehistoric creature games are.

Dinosauriness: The game departs slightly from the film including some dinos that didn't make the cut. Creatures featured are: Albertoaurus, Ankylosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Carnotaurus, Champsosaurus, Dryptosaurus, the bat Icaronycteris, Iguanodon, Oviraptor, Parasaurolophus, Pteranodon, Quetzalcoatlus (misspelled Quetzelcoatlus in the game), a' raptor', Spinosaurus, Styracosaurus (misspelled Styrachosaur in the game) Talarurus and of course a Lemur. A number of other genera appear in cutscenes including Pachyrhinosaurus, Struthiomimus, Stygimoloch and possibly Ichthyornis.

Scientific Accuracy: Where to begin? First off talking animals loses some accuracy points. Secondly, a lot of the dinosaurs have been found continents apart, Carnotaurus remains have only been found in Argentina, Styracosaurus is only known from Canada, Oviraptorin Mongolia and possibly China. This is not to say that they couldn't have met but current evidence doesn't suggest they did. Also many of the creatures represented weren't coeval. Champsosaurus resembles a giant lizard and is found roaming the desert rather unlike a Choristoderan really. Lastly, the lemurs (and similarly Icaryonecteris) really throw a spanner in the works. Not only are lemur fossils only known from Madagascar, Asia and continental Africa conflicting with the Dinosaurs from the Americas but even the most immoderate estimates for the appearance of lemurs don't go as far back as 75 Ma. However, most irritatingly in the game is that Zini sounds like some kinda New York wise-guy. Having been forced to watch the film again for fact checking, bizarrely this accent has been added specifically for the game. Thanks guys. Someone should really publish a paper on the independent evolution of NY wise guy accents in sidekicks.

Buzz Bonus: It seems almost obligatory for dinosaur games to have a 'dinopedia' and this game is no exception albeit with a shocking number of typos. This makes my life a lot easier because I don't have to keep quite so many notes. The dinopedia in the PS2 version is a nice little three-dimensional diorama that you can whizz around and discover various dinosaur (and other prehistoric creature) facts.

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