Dinosaur fever was a common affliction in the 1990s thanks to Jurassic Park and its subsequent sequels. Jurassic World might not cause a new outbreak, but it has at least spawned one new video game: LEGO Jurassic World, which launches today.
Playboy’s Gamers Next Door checked the game out out last month, but in case the slapstick plastic version isn’t your thing here’s a look at ten of the most memorable dinosaur-based games throughout history.
Looking distinctly archaic by modern standards, Jurassic Park for the SNES was quite the impressive game at the time. You controlled Alan Grant (Sam Neil in the film) as he tried to escape the park while the game switched between a top-down perspective and a first person view.
It was actually pretty atmospheric. Who actually wants to come face to face to a velociraptor after all? It captured the tension and general themes of the film pretty well, while also incorporating some important new features, such as surround sound and support for the Super Nintendo’s weird mouse controller.
THE LOST WORLD
PS1, Sega Saturn
A little like the film sequel, The Lost World was a game with some great ideas that weren’t very well realised. It was a side-scrolling adventure that let you switch between different characters at regular points—sometimes you’d control a raptor taking out other predators in your wake, others a vulnerable human hunter exploring labs and underground complexes.
You could be a T-Rex too, but never for as long as you’d like. The Lost World’s cumbersome controls and steep difficulty curve is what stopped it from being truly great.
PS1, PC, Sega Saturn, phones
OK, so the Tyrannosaurus Rex is only a brief part of Tomb Raider. But it does manage to be one of the most memorable sequences in the game. The first time round, you’re happily taking out wolves and meandering around caves, having no idea what’s about to happen. You come across some small dinosaurs. Hey, this is still easy! And then it appears—huge and terrifying—causing you to basically panic.
Keep backing off while shooting though, and it’ll all work out, leaving you only a little mentally scarred. Dinosaurs make a comeback in later Tomb Raider games, most notably Tomb Raider III, but it’s that first encounter that’s most distinctive.
SUPER MARIO WORLD 2: YOSHI’S ISLAND
Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance
Dinosaurs don’t all have to be terrifying creatures. Yoshi demonstrated that through Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and many subsequent releases.
The cuddly-looking food-obsessed critter brought with him a colorful hand-drawn style, oodles of charm, and a platforming experience to rival the first Super Mario World. Don’t expect the game to have much in common with Chris Pratt’s view of dinosaurs though.
PS1, PC, Dreamcast
Combine Resident Evil and dinosaurs, and Dino Crisis is what you get. It’s a series of games that’s in dire need of making a comeback, and a great example of the survival horror genre.
You spend as much time solving puzzles as taking out dinosaurs, but thanks to the game’s scarcity of resources you feel tense throughout. Later installments are more hit and miss, but the original is sure to grip you.
TUROK: DINOSAUR HUNTER
One of the Nintendo 64’s many fantastic games, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was brutal and stunning for the time. You played a native American warrior out to stop evil (and dinosaurs) from conquering the world.
It was a mixture of Doom-style shooting alongside Tomb Raider-esque exploration, meaning there was plenty to love about it. Its translucent water, lens flare and destructible trees were revolutionary, too.
A little too easily forgotten about, Tokyo Jungle is a hidden gem. In it, the world has been turned into an extremely unpleasant wasteland, and animals are the only survivors. While the game initially focuses on your efforts as a Pomeranian dog, you can unlock new characters such as deer, beagles, hyenas, and—you guessed it—dinosaurs.
It’s not an easy game, especially if you’re a herbivore, but it is an incredibly imaginative one. It captures the desolation of a planet dominated by animals well.
FAR CRY 3: BLOOD DRAGON
PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Dragons aren’t real (sadly) which is why Skyrim can’t feature here, but despite the name, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon’s “dragons” look far more like dinosaurs than anything else. Maybe it’s because you’re already controlling Sergeant Rex Colt, who sounds suspiciously like a cyborg/dinosaur crossover, or maybe it’s just because this is a game steeped in humor, but we’re counting those ‘dragons’ as dinosaurs.
You’ll be hunting them down a lot, fortunately with some very impressive and outlandish weaponry. Because what else would you do if you encountered some dinos in real life?
STAR FOX ADVENTURES
Originally known as Dinosaur Planet before being rebranded into a Star Fox game, it’s not surprising that Star Fox Adventures has plenty of dinosaurs—though it’s a little weirder when they start talking.
Kind of like a simpler Zelda game, Star Fox Adventures casts you as Fox McCloud as he explores Dinosaur Planet and attempts to save the day. These dinosaurs won’t have much in common with others on this list, but they do a great job of adding personality and charm to the game.
Think Evolve but with dinosaurs; in other words, a competitive shooter where one side plays as the humans and the other as deadly dinos. While the human team is typically firearms based, the dinosaur team has a plethora of melee attacks and a strong focus on stealth.
You can control the tank class of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, or you can opt to be a scout in the form of the Pteranodon. There’s room for a fictional species too, thanks to the pouncing Novaraptor—an offshoot of the conventional Velociraptor.
These games are great in their own ways, but unless today’s LEGO Jurassic World release is really surprising, it seems dino-loving gamers will still be waiting for a masterpiece.
Jennifer Allen is a freelance writer based in not-so-sunny Wales. She’s been gaming for over 20 years and cites Final Fantasy VII and Goldeneye as “life-changing.” Jennifer has written for outlets such as GamePro.com, G4TV.com, and PasteMagazine.com. In her free time, she pretends she knows what she’s doing at the gym.