With Jurassic World Dominion releasing at long last, now is the perfect time to look back on the long history of Jurassic Park games.
Releasing into movie theaters in July 1993, Jurassic Park was yet another Steven Spielberg venture that managed to change the face of Hollywood. While Jaws essentially created the blockbuster as it’s know today, Indiana Jones pushed the boundaries of a modern adventure movie, and E.T. proved that kid’s movies can also appeal to adults, Jurassic Park acted as the culmination of Spielberg’s work, being a genre-defining, boundary-pushing, family-friendly blockbuster that made monumental waves in the pop culture zeitgeist.
Now, nearly three decades later, the Jurassic Park franchise has received five sequels, a range of spinoffs, theme park attractions, and more merchandise than any one person could possibly collect. Still, there’s one particular medium that’s seen more Jurassic Park content than any other: video games. Over the last three decades, there been a few dozen Jurassic Park games, but quantity doesn’t mean quality, and that’s certainly the case with this franchise.
- Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis: A 2003 classic, Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis was the first Jurassic Park game that many considered to be actually good. A theme park builder, Operation Genesis sees players create their very own Jurassic Park, going from hatching eggs, to building enclosures, to firing tranquilizers at escaping dinos. It isn’t perfect, and critics weren’t too keen on it at the time, but Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis is viewed more fondly in hindsight.
- LEGO Jurassic World: Though it definitely isn’t one of the best LEGO games, LEGO Jurassic World is still easily one of the best Jurassic Park titles out there. By 2015, players had gotten a little tired of the same-old LEGO game formula, and LEGO Jurassic World‘s reviews reflected this, though the ability to create a dinosaur and play as it was a neat feature.
- Jurassic World Evolution: The natural progression for the Jurassic Park park builder, Jurassic World Evolution is truly one of the franchise’s best offerings. Essentially just a new and improved Operation Genesis, Evolution doesn’t really push the genre anywhere new, but it does offer a good experience for those looking to create their own Jurassic Park, though some technical issues, a lack of polish, and some restrictive mechanics do hold it back from being truly excellent.
- Jurassic World Aftermath: A stealth VR game, Jurassic World Aftermath is a well-polished, thrilling, albeit short, experience. The premise of the game is simple but effective, tasking the player with escaping from a facility while being hunted by a pack of velociraptors. The cartoon-y art style of the game helps to keep the experience scary, but not too terrifying, and the puzzles are suitably challenging.
- Jurassic World Evolution 2: While Jurassic World Evolution 2 is technically an improvement on its predecessor, with more open areas, more dinos, and better visuals and mechanics, its post-Fallen Kingdom setting may not be for every Jurassic Park fan. However, Jurassic World Evolution 2 has a lot to offer fans of the franchise, and may just be the best Jurassic Park game to date.
- Jurassic Park (Ocean Software) 1993: The very first Jurassic Park game ever made, Ocean Software’s title released the same year as the groundbreaking movie, in 1993. Developed for the SNES, Jurassic Park was almost as influential as its movie counterpart, pushing the boundaries for licensed games on the console. The game’s exterior sections puts players in a responsive top-down shooter, while the interior sections swap perspectives to an FPS. The graphics are good, the sound is good, and although the objectives are a little obtuse, their faithfulness to the source material is commendable. The only thing stopping Jurassic Park from reaching the A-tier is its age.
- The Lost World: Jurassic Park Arcade: A step above its predecessor, The Lost World Arcade is a great light gun arcade cabinet that pits players against a horde of iconic dinosaurs. For its time, and even now, the game’s visuals and audio are incredibly impressive, and its light gun aiming is pinpoint accurate.
- Jurassic Park 3: Dino Defender: The first game released to be based on the franchise’s third movie, Dino Defender is one of the more unique Jurassic Park titles, being a 2D side-scrolling puzzle game, where players have to avoid dinosaurs and think quickly to avoid certain death. The main hazard-suited character model doesn’t quite fit the franchise’s aesthetic, but Dino Defender received excellent reviews upon release for being a unique take on the mostly action-centric series.
- Jurassic Park 3: Park Builder: The first Jurassic Park game to let the player actually build a park, this game was one of three Konami-led Game Boy Advance Exclusives in 2001 to use the Jurassic Park license, and is by far the best one. Despite a lack of a tutorial mode and some simplistic visuals, Jurassic Park 3: Park Builder is actually packed with complex mechanics, which was very impressive for the time, especially for a handheld game.
- Jurassic Park: The Game: One of TellTale’s first outings, Jurassic Park: The Game certainly isn’t the developer’s best offering. Though its story and characters are fun to watch, the level of interactivity in this game is minimal, leading to the game feeling a little dull.
- Jurassic Park (BlueSky) 1993: Not quite as responsive as its SNES counterpart, BlueSky’s Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis was a relatively fun side-scrolling platformer, but lacked the polish of Ocean Software’s offering. This version of the source material does let players take control of a velociraptor though, which is pretty neat.
- Jurassic Park Arcade (1994): The very first arcade game based on the franchise, 1994’s Jurassic Park Arcade is a simplistic on-rails shooter, but its cabinet is wonderfully nostalgic. Shaped like the back-end of the movie’s iconic Ford Explorer, and with a moving seat that simulated the feeling of driving, Jurassic Park Arcade had some great elements, but its visuals and simple gameplay ultimately let it down.
- Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues: Ocean Software’s sequel to its 1993 classic, Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues removes much of what made the first game so beloved. Rather than a unique blend of genres, Jurassic Park 2 remains a 2D sidescroller for its entirety. It doesn’t live up to its predecessor, but Jurassic Park 2 is a fine 2-player experience.
- Chaos Island: The Lost World: The first real-time strategy game in the franchise, Chaos Island: The Lost World tasks the player with repelling an army of hunters. To complete this task, players get to create their own army of dinosaurs, which is an undeniably cool concept. Despite the fun premise, and the star-studded cast of returning actors like Jeff Goldblum, Chaos Island had some pretty poor AI, and very simplistic gameplay.
- Warpath: Jurassic Park: A game that needs to be seen to be believed, Warpath: Jurassic Park is a dinosaur fighting game for the original PlayStation. Aside from the bonkers premise, Warpath had little else going for it, with some very unresponsive mechanics miring the whole experience. At least it’s a novelty nowadays.
- Jurassic Park 3: Danger Zone: The sequel to the better-received Dino Defender, Danger Zone uses a lot of the same side-scrolling puzzle mechanics, but condenses them down into what is essentially a mini-game collection. The gameplay is fine, but isn’t quite as action-packed as the games above it on this list.
- Jurassic Park 3 Arcade: Konami’s attempt at a Jurassic Park-themed light gun shooter, Jurassic Park 3 Arcade doesn’t live up to the heights of its predecessors, but is still a fun time. After all, it’s hard to get a dinosaur-themed light gun shooter too wrong.
- Scan Command: Jurassic Park: One of the weirder titles on this list, Scan Command: Jurassic Park is another dinosaur-on-dinosaur fighting game, but it uses a real-world barcode scanner to increase the dinos’ attack power and defense stats. The game itself is pretty fun and looks good, but it does suffer from framerate issues.
- Jurassic Park Arcade (2015): The most recent Jurassic Park arcade offering, this game has the same moving seats as The Lost World, but its gameplay isn’t quite as satisfying. Despite the 18-year time jump, the visuals haven’t improved that much either.
- Jurassic Park (Sega) 1993: The last of the three 1993 Jurassic Park games, this one was developed by Sega solely for the Game Gear and Master System. Another platformer, Jurassic Park is exceptionally easy, very short, and lacks any of the polish seen in its competition.
- The Lost World: Jurassic Park: Based on the maligned Jurassic Park movie of the same name, The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a 1997 DreamWorks Interactive title for the original PlayStation and Sega Saturn. While the game’s premise was interesting, allowing players to hunt as either a dinosaur or human, and the presentation was impressive, the game’s controls were horrendous, rendering the entire experience frustrating.
- Trespasser: Though it doesn’t carry the branding, 1998’s infamous Trespasser is certainly a Jurassic Park game, with Steven Spielberg even working on the development team to lend credibility to the game’s status as a true sequel to the franchise. Unfortunately, Trespasser is a horrible game. Though its graphics were incredibly impressive for the time, and the game aims to be ambitiously immersive, technology just wasn’t there yet, leading to a broken game.
- Jurassic Park 3: Island Attack: Another Game Boy Advance exclusive, Jurassic Park 3: Island Attack is a free-roam isometric action-adventure. Sadly, it comes with an unfair difficulty spike, muddy visuals, and bad audio.
- Jurassic Park 3: The DNA Factor: One final Game Boy Advance exclusive, Jurassic Park 3: The DNA Factor is a bad game on just about every level. The graphics are poor, the sound is rough, the collision detection is near non-existent, and the items and enemies are indistinguishable from the foreground and background.