Sega Genesis' Jurassic Park - Velociraptor Revisited

Published: July 11, 2018 1:00 PM /

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start screen jurassic park

The 1993 Jurassic Park film was destined to be an instant classic and for good reason. Based on the 1990 novel by Michael Crichton, the idea was state-of-the-art: a flourishing island encircling a theme park that just so happens to be populated by prehistoric reptiles. Dinosaurs are awesome, plain and simple. Released alongside Jurassic Park was a video game for the Sega Genesis illustrating elements parallel to the film. Playing it today, Sega Genesis’ rendition of Jurassic Park didn’t exactly bring about the same excitement. Instead, this fossil injected a boiling surge of rage into my heart.

Developed by BlueSky Software in 1993, Jurassic Park automatically had an appeal by its choice of playable protagonist. During development, Dr. Grant was originally going to be the only playable mode in Jurassic Park. Due to Dr. Grant's escapade only totaling at six levels, BlueSky made the late decision to integrate the Velociraptor as a separate playthrough. Due to the Raptor being a common enemy in Dr. Grant's path, the visuals and animations were already fleshed out for our lizard friend, with over 20 animations being available for the Velociraptor. Thus, it made sense to incorporate the Velociraptor mode to bump up the replay value. Though shooting Taser guns and casually flinging explosives sounds fun enough, I made the no-brainer decision and took the reigns as a homicidal lizard for this look back. Dinosaur trumps human, it's kind of a no-brainer.

Many Sega Genesis games at the time forced you through their hardships on an inflexible difficulty setting. Genesis' Jurassic Park, on the other hand, entails the choice of your preferred difficulty. Jurassic Park automatically starts you out on Normal mode, but don’t be ashamed to take it a notch down to Easy. If you really don’t value your sanity, Hard mode patiently awaits to tear your pride apart into itty bitty pieces, too. This is a bloodthirsty dinosaur-infested island, after all.

raptor and dudes jurassic park
Nah, dude, it's just a raptor. We're fine.

To break it down, the Raptor’s foremost obligation involves hunting Dr. Grant because…why not? However, escaping is a priority as well. The Raptor broke out from their cage and now roams the island through the experience of five seemingly short yet indubitably frustrating stages. When or if you reach the finish line of each level, Dr. Grant stands nonchalantly in a way where he’s almost just waiting for you to chase after him. Just as you meander toward him though, he dashes out of sight. It’s basically a game of cat and mouse, and Dr. Grant is such a tease.

The first stage requires you to gallivant through a supposed easygoing jungle environment. Other dinosaurs lurk and make you miserable, but the developers feature a nifty “Artificial Dinosaur Intelligence” that causes the dinosaurs to react differently each time the game is played. The chaps armed with weapons are who you ought to be on the lookout for though. Keeping in mind that we’re talking about a Genesis game, the raptor doesn’t come equipped with impressive combos to perform on his foes. Your options are to kick, claw, jump super high into the air and … that’s about it. Luckily, the Raptor is incredibly mobile and can jump to high platforms. If the Raptor gets caught in the line of fire or drops into a pit of spikes, the health bar deteriorates, as expected. To regain an ounce of health and dignity, health items are sporadically placed within stages. Unfortunately, they replenish very little of the raptor’s health bar. Go figure.

Admiring the nostalgic platform-style escapade is all fun and games until you realize how wonky the controls are. Not to mention their delayed response rate. Due to these misfortunes, measuring your leaps from one platform to the next is an art. Either you acquire the talent, or you don’t. At the final stretch of the first stage (which is designed to be elementary), the raptor must jump blindly over a chasm to reach the joker that is Dr. Grant. To throw you into more of a tizzy, a platform conveniently hangs above the gaping hole of death. The inevitable clash of the raptor’s head to the bottom of the platform and a direct miscalculation of what should be a simple jump thus becomes a humiliating death. I’m not proud of the how long it took me to advance onto the second stage.

jurassic park intro
"Pursue" Grant. Hmm...

A mini introduction scrolls on the screen before a level commences, briefing players on their progression. You don’t really get much out of them except a quick anecdote regarding Dr. Grant’s scent. The raptor’s obsession with Dr. Grant is a little concerning, but for my wellbeing, I chose to avoid overanalyzing it. Nonetheless, the struggle only escalates as the raptor forges ahead. There may only be five playable levels for our destructive little friend, but the unforgiving gameplay is relentless. One slip up and the world comes crashing down. Checkpoints aren’t heard of either, mostly because stages are short in length. However, you are granted an accommodating passcode after completing a level. If you decide to wave that white flag, passcodes can be entered in at any time to pick up where you left off. Ah, the good old days of not possessing the luxury of saving whenever you felt like it.

After surpassing the jungle, a power station, a power pump station, and a canyon, the Raptor FINALLY embarks onto the last stage in this wretched escapade. In a way of semi-mirroring the film, Jurassic Park’s finale presents the Raptor in the main hall of the park’s central building. After hack n’ slashing through the same old copy-and-pasted enemies with your Raptor claws, the final confrontation with Dr. Grant ensues. He’s atop a skeletal model of a T-Rex tossing bombs at the area below him and of course, it’s the Raptor’s responsibility to take him down.

jurassic park final level

You can imagine my complete and utter disappointment when the only thing my Raptor could do was collapse the skeletal frame by scratching at and destroying the apparent pillar keeping it upright. Dr. Grant even had the nerve to once again flee the scene as the structure began to…blow up? Not actually collapse because, you know, 16-bit graphics and all. Still not too shabby for 1993. The Raptor, of course, stood there dumbfounded, as did I. The credits then began to roll, claiming I “defeated” Dr. Grant, ascended into a large cargo crate, and was being shipped from the island to live a new life. You know, maybe even start a family.

The end.

Numerous video games baby us in this day and age. We are allowed countless redos, save files, and for the most part, fairly smooth controls. As a child who adored the Jurassic Park film, this game was an absolute blast. In some ways, it’s still fun, but it’s mostly a caboodle of constant defeat. The Raptor’s playthrough doesn’t exhibit any unique challenges or enemies to go up against, but I know most can agree that playing the role as a Velociraptor is totally badass. BlueSky definitely made the right decision to integrate the Raptor as a last-minute playable addition, though the lack of additional options for the mode sadly limits it some. Dr. Grant, on the other hand, encounters an array of foes, one starring the infamous T-Rex. That is the beauty of this Jurassic Park game, though. You can always switch up your style and take on the world as either dinosaur or man and that’s pretty hardcore for a 1993 video game.  No matter who you decide to conquer Jurassic Park as, you’ll be ridden with some major nostalgia and mental burdens. In spite of all the chaos, life, uh, finds a way.

Review Summary


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I'm so awkward when I have to talk about myself. I'm an avid video game player (obviously). When I'm not avoiding reality in imaginative… More about Amanda