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Jurassic Park III: Island Attack

Review By:  Siou Choy

Developer:  Konami
Publisher:  Konami
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Platform
GCN Link:  No
ESRB:  Everyone
Date Posted:  1-21-02

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water, Konami comes out with yet another attempt to draw blood from a particularly rough stone, to say nothing of beating a very dead horse. As if to belie the fact that, to put it quite bluntly, simply no one cares about the moribund Spielberg franchise at this point, Konami has cluttered up the shelves of video game retailers everywhere with no less than three (count ‘em, THREE) Jurassic Park games for the Game Boy Advance over the course of a single year. One can only wonder in amazement at the boardroom intrigues behind this dunderheaded over-milking of a distinctly dry udder: "Hey, guys, I’ve got a great one: how about we release an equal number of games to movies produced in a series…all in one year! And what a series I’ve got for you…no, not Home Alone (though that’s a good idea for next year)…get this…Jurassic Park!" (appreciative murmurs of awe).

Utilizing an isometric point of view for the better part of the game, Island Attack requires the gamer to travel from the plane crash that starts the game across the island to the port where a Rescue Boat is waiting to transport you to safety. Along the way, naturally, you’ll have to fend off various dinosaurs like those ever popular Velociraptors (which I’d lay heavy odds nobody ever heard of prior to their popularization in the original Jurassic Park), a few longstanding species like Pteranodon and Tyrannosaurus, and some oddball jobs like Compsognathus (say who?).

There are eight stages in Island Attack with several sub-levels in each stage. If so inclined, you can replay completed levels by means of the "Stage Select" mode.

Problem #1. The controls do not jive with the way the game is set up.

The use of an isometric view makes it difficult to accurately aim your flare gun at those conveniently placed crates of gun powder to stop the dinosaurs. I also found running difficult in this view, since you have to double tap in the direction you want to move to run (what, do they need you to light a fire under their ass? If I’m pressing right, it means move right!). The controls as they stand are nowhere near the level of responsiveness required for a game of this sort, with a good portion of the play time being devoted to high-intensity chases. That said, there is a certain aesthetic appeal to the isometric view, which while making movement unnecessarily difficult, does make the game’s graphics stand out more than they might have otherwise.

Problem #2. That damn music.

The music in Island Attack, while (at first listen) respectable and appropriate for its scenario, runs in a short and irritatingly continuous loop. Just to underscore the low prioritizing on the scoring end, there is a very distinct and obvious break audible every time the track restarts (which is more often than you’d ever believe). Even beyond its musical deficiencies, Jurassic Park: Island Attack still doesn’t quite measure up on the audio end: to wit, the dinosaurs (the ostensible stars of the show in a game of this sort) don’t sound appropriately threatening, with one species sounding nearly identical to the next. (These are the kind of things that happen when you rush out three similar games in one year.)

Having dinosaurs (or anyone else, for that matter) spit at me doesn’t exactly hold any great appeal to me. Nor does the selection of dinosaurs in the game, most of which appear to have been created, discovered, sub-specified, renamed or what have you since my time in grade school. With all this attention lavished on ‘raptors’ since the release of the first Jurassic Park film, one has to wonder what ever happened to the cool dinosaurs like the Stegosaurus, Brontosaurus and Anklosaurus?

Highs:

  • The isometric view really brings the game’s already pleasant graphics to the fore
  • Simple gameplay, if you’re into that sort of thing – and considering the likely age of any remaining Jurassic Park fanbase at this point in the series, this may have been a good call

Lows:

  • The isometric view makes maneuvering a bit too difficult for a game demanding constant motion and evasion
  • Another license, another average (even below average) game. And what merits three games of the same franchise in one year; particularly given the rather muted success of a dud third installment to a tired series? Whose inebriated brainstorm was this, anyway?
  • The music. They could have composed more than a minute and a half worth of scary music, and they certainly could have mastered it more competently than the well-substandard looping effect shown here.

Final Verdict:

Jurassic Park III: Island Attack is one of those games that wouldn’t sell more than a dozen copies on its own merits, but which will probably make a modest buck based on its tie-in value. What it actually has to do with the third Jurassic Park movie, of course, is another issue. Probably a real treat for undiscriminating toddlers and preteens, but for older gamers, it just doesn’t deliver. Unless you’re a hardcore fan of the movies (and who really is at this point?), I’d suggest passing on this one. If you’re determined to give it a go (or just morbidly curious), give a thought to renting or borrowing it for a couple days and save yourself a buck.

Overall Score: 3.7

 



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