As we all know, time marches ever forward and change is inevitable. The thunder lizards who ruled the planet millions of years ago are currently nothing but the inspiration for a little boy’s playthings, and I could say that a good percentage of those playthings are probably inspired by Jurassic Park. Back in November, I looked at Jurassic Park‘s first video game adaptation on the Game Boy, finding it to be a tiresome top down arcade game that was frustrating to play. Now, I’m here six months later to look at its direct sequel. A lot can change between games as time marches on, and I’m happy to report that Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues is both an excellent name for a video game and a much better retro throwback.
Some things don’t change, and that includes most of the setup of The Chaos Continues. You once again play as Allan Grant, and he is once again trapped on the dinosaur-infested island looking for an escape. Instead of a top-down shooter, this game is a side-scrolling action platformer and is far removed from the SNES title that shares its name. This allowed the developers at Ocean to really play to the platform’s strengths, making for tight jumping and shooting that wouldn’t be out of place on Steam Greenlight nowadays. Of course, we are still in 1995, so the game is hard as nails and features limited lives and limited continues, but the Jurassic Park franchise was making progress towards a more enjoyable and sane experience for players.
Once you load into the park and read some very sparse opening text that sets the scene, you are off. Levels start off in a linear fashion and quickly evolve, ending with multiple pathways and discovery that reminded me of classic Sonic levels. Of course, none of these hidden nooks are optional, because you’ll need to acquire an ever growing set of key cards in every stage in order to progress. This makes the exploration less a fun diversion and more the central gameplay hook, and it didn’t take long for the levels to become complex enough to require backtracking. Of course, all the enemies respawn as soon as you leave their area, so it’s easy to die just as you’re searching for the last one or two key cards to finish the stage. If that happens, it’s all the way to the back of the level, and that alone might be enough to turn you off to the game’s cycle of memorization and required precision.
Back in the day, this kind of cycle would be fine, especially considering the handheld nature of the game. Playing it today either requires extreme patience or the liberal use of save states, but for someone who is looking for a retro experience, Jurassic Park 2 delivers a serviceable time. The boss fights are basic, but they do break up the monotony of the platforming stages and make the alternate grenade weapon somewhat useful. The T-Rex stages are a bit more unique, as you have to escape the pursuing dino by navigating a maze of platforms. If you’re playing the right way, these levels feel like a cheap way to strip lives from the player and go back to that strict requirement of memorization. There’s nothing fun about getting near the end of a chase, making a wrong turn, and then having to start all over again because of your mistake.
Graphically, The Chaos Continues improves over its predecessor during its main stages. The boss sprites are still big and impressive, but the rest of the game has caught up to that work in a way which makes it not as notable as before. Still, the graphics are detailed for a Game Boy release, with nice backgrounds and a funny animation where it seems like Allan Grant leaps into the air using only his knees. The soundtrack hasn’t changed that much from the first game, which in this case is what you want. The chiptunes are as great as ever, really driving you forward and getting you into the game.
Overall, Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues is more what you’d expect from a licensed game, especially one released in the mid-90s. Ocean have twisted elements of the film to fit the Super Mario mold, and it works for what it is without offense. The only real problems with the game come because I’m reviewing it in 2017 rather than 1995, and someone who goes in expecting the frustrations that some retro games possess will find what they’re looking for here. If you absolutely have to play a Jurassic Park game on Game Boy, this is the better option, but there are also hundreds of platformers out there that reach this same level of quality. While this game doesn’t deserve to completely go extinct, it definitely belongs in a museum.
Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues was reviewed on a Game Boy emulator after purchasing a physical copy of the game online. The game was selected for review by a $50 patron via our Patreon campaign.
While not as unplayable as the first game, The Chaos Continues is a pretty standard action platformer that coasts on its ties to a popular movie and falls into the same frustrating traps that retro gamers know so well.
- Rockin' Chiptunes
- Decent Gameplay
- Allan Grant's Super Knees
- Required Memorization
- Limited Lives and Continues
- Overly Complex Levels