Saturday, December 28, 2019

Jurassic Park III: Dino Defender: For Kids, With Horror

For Christmas, I wanted to do something a little bit different. Dino Defender, is on its surface, a platformer about rounding up dinosaurs. If that sounds weird to you, its because it is. Dino Defender is a cinematic platformer. Its like Prince of Persia or Another World, except with dinosaurs and no real shooting*. Instead you trap dinosaurs that have escaped. Because trapping something that wants to kill you is for everyone 6+. No, I'm sorry, ages 8+. Wait, there's a note for parents in the manual, it says the game is for 7+ but the movies are 13+. I'm sorry, could you have a consistent age rating for this game, even if it is "lighter" than the movies? I guess the ESRB rating is unavoidable, but could the guy doing the manual and the guy doing the cover maybe consult each other if there's an age rating?
This is a game I have a personal memories of. Of starting out and dying horribly. I think that's probably why I liked Resident Evil 4 much more than I was supposed to at an age before I should have played it. This game is probably why I have a fear of dinosaurs, that, and the movie, Tomb Raider. For me, dinosaurs weren't cool dead animals, it was good that they were dead animals. I've never finished this, a combination of difficulty, being scared by dinosaurs, and having games that didn't make me cower in fear.

Works fine in Wine. Except for the menus which lag like crazy. How can something lag that much? Made with Macromedia is how. Great compatibility with Macintosh back in the day, but runs like crap today. I'm impressed this is running at all. A lot of old games made in engines like these refuse to start up at all. It also notices whenever I mouse over anything, even if I'm in a text document on top of it.

The game starts off with a tutorial that explains how the game works, which I've already explained. Climb up, climb down, don't fall too far or you'll break your legs and become dino chow. Also, the man narrating this game sounds very educational game voice actor.

The story is that winds of 135 MPH have destroyed the fences at Jurassic Park and taken out the power. The dinosaurs have gotten loose and now you have to restore power and maybe recapture them. Recapture is the side objective. What do you expect? There's only one plot in Jurassic Park and its always about the dinosaurs escaping. How does this place stay in business if there are this many failures? I don't hear about all the animals escaping in the Bronx Zoo every other year. Who would be dumb enough to visit this place?
This is the first thing you see on a proper mission. Children love running from things that will devour them
The game doesn't screw around either, right away you get charged by little dinosaurs. These guys sure are a character. To recapture them, you have two items, a call box, which attracts the dumb dinos, and a capture pod, which captures them. The capture pod here is a net. After you capture them, they sure are struggling to get out, almost as noisy as when they aren't captured.
The real goal of the game is to reactivate the circuit breakers. To reactivate power after the power lines are taken out. How they work without any power lines is best left to the reader's imagination because nobody developing this game thought about it. Knowledge Adventure, we aren't actually here to teach you anything, your parents just want brief moments of silence.
With the next group of escapees, I repeat the obvious tactic, drop a call box inside, then throw a capture pod at them. The capture pods for these guys flies in a straight arc. Wonderful. So, like a smart person, I go to the edge of the rock and hit down, which is how I crouch, and while crouching I can use the call box. The call box and the capture pod use the same key, lazy devs. I climb down.
Children's game. You know, I think I had a bit of a high tolerance back in the day, I saw Watership Down as a child and the only thing wrong with me now is trying to sell Jurassic Park: Dino Defender as some kind of horror game. Anyway, doing it properly this time, I knock them out. That's what the capture pods for these things do. Not even tying them up, just putting them to sleep...Moving on I get a "puzzle" involving a boulder.
Oh, gees, now its underwater. Two paths, one through a jellyfish that will no doubt kill me or up a wall full of dinosaurs that will no doubt kill me. That's great. Well, the jellyfish don't kill me, they just sap my air when I'm underwater. There's also some living seaweed that does the same. I don't remember this. Checking the back of the jewel case, I see that there's going to be secret treasure caches in the game. JOY. TO. THE. WORLD. Furthering this sentiment, this is the level exit. I'm missing a power box. Back upstairs...
Whoever's in charge of the art direction here never heard of making easy to understand paths. This is the first level in a children's game. Where the hell did I screw up? I'm lost as to where I find the second box. My helpful info screen also tells me I'm missing one of the human-sized raptors. I go back, maybe I missed something. I did, I shouldn't have so much time between starting and finishing. Well, the last dino can roam free for now, I'm out of here.
The level is finished by a short cutscene in which I walk and then fall down a hole created by an earthquake. That somehow feels completely unnecessary and necessary at the same time.
Nice, not starting off about to be eaten by dinosaurs. The music is now some generic movie chase music. I'd check if its from the movie, but I don't think that matters in the grand scheme of things. There's some tiny dinosaur here, somewhere. So to advance, you climb across stalagmites, and then I chose to jump down to a rock to push it off. Leading to my death. There's a cutscene to falling to your death down an infinite hole, but not if you fall too far inside the level. Quality work guys.
This level involves a whole lot of climbing. Up-down rock spires, up-down ledges. Now, in this picture there are two climbing spires. You might be thinking that I should jump to the one in the center and then climb down it? Wrong. Fall to my death because nobody on this team knew how to program climbing onto something from the side. Artistic decision, you might say? I think that's wrong, for two reasons, 1)Children's game, this isn't The Red Balloon. 2)Exactly how is it an artistic choice to do this?
At the bottom, there's just some of the tiny dinosaurs. They have a name, I can see that name, I just don't care. I deal with them like I expected the game to place them. At the bottom of the area. Then I see a power box and an elevator. Hmm, this smells like a trap. I think it was, in fact. Silly me, not remembering most of this game so far except where the jump scares happen.
Hey, look at that! I'm right. What do I win? Nothing. Well, an elevator ride. Manual controls this elevator. Up and down move it. I just realized my character still sounds like he's stepping on grass. I don't think I've stepped on grass this whole game. Another handy repeat with another raptor, this time trying to hide outside of my sight. I am very much in hate of this music. That sounds random, but keep in mind I write most of these playthroughs** with the game in the background. Currently I am listening to generic chase music as background music. This is only passable if something intense is going on in the foreground of the sound department, like people franticly getting away from dinosaurs, not the clicky-clack of keys being pressed. There is only one volume, if I even had the choice to turn it off.
Another raptor trying to hide out of my sight. He jumps down, and what do you know? The straight shooting arc of this species capture pod is a boon after all. Nothing else of note in this lower cavern, but there is a crawlspace.
Oh, good. Is this a puzzle or is this a test of reflexes? Puzzle, or very bad hit detection. Yeah, it could be either of those things. Now what's on floor no. 3?
...Well, I can't say that isn't a realistic placement. He gets me the first time, then I stumble in a hole a few times. This isn't exactly Prince of Persia here. Back on the surface, free to explore to my hearts content. What wonders will I find on the next screen?
WHY!? Behind this the level exit. Oh, so it is very bad hit detection. GOOD JOB. No, you have to run over the stones. It doesn't matter if you hit them or not, just as long as you do a running jump. This level man, this level.
I beat the level and get knocked down by a pterodactyl. Will I survive? Will I quit in disgust as it becomes apparent that this game is terrible and nobody should ever play it? Will I soften up as it becomes better?

*If you don't know what I mean, instead of unrealistic jumping, the PC has a short jumping height and can climb up/down ledges.
**Or text Let's Plays, if you so prefer.

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