Jurassic Park Classic Games Collection
Released: November 22nd, 2023
Developer: Ocean Software, BlueSky Software
Publisher: Limited Run Games
Systems: PC, PS4/5, Switch (reviewed), Xbox X/S
When bringing decades-old games back to market, publishers are essentially selling the same ROM files that have been freely available online for an incredibly long time. I’ve always felt such rereleases ought to push the boat out a little and offer more to justify buying the thing instead of just emulating its contents. It needn’t be decadent, but do something special.
Limited Run Games doesn’t agree with me, at least as far as The Jurassic Park Classic Games Collection goes.
An archaic assortment of generally bad licensed games originally developed by Ocean, this package disappoints not just with the mediocrity of titles on show but in terms of presentation and value as well. Even by the stingiest standards of retro game releases, it's a letdown.
You get seven titles, two of which are practically the same game, presented with almost no frills and only the most basic quality-of-life additions expected from premium ROM collections - by that I mean you get a rewind feature, two unappealing filter options, and one single screen border you can toggle on or off.
For this, customers are being asked to pay $29.99.
The 90s Jurassic Park games are a prime example of media that’s nowhere near as good as one remembers, and considering they were never particularly memorable to begin with, that should let you know how poor they are. It’s not just that they’re dated - they’re ill conceived, awkward to play, and sometimes completely baffling in structure.
Jurassic Park 8-bit is the first offering, an isometric NES shooter from that horrible period of shooter design when you could only fire where the movement stick was pointing you. It’s slow and it’s threadbare, not worth more than five minutes of attention.
The T-Rex on the menu screen is funny.
A game I expect many of you to be most familiar with, Jurassic Park Genesis, is about as clunky and cheap as it was last time I emulated it. The choice of playing as Doctor Grant or a Velociraptor is still a cool gimmick, though either choice involves sloppy platforming in weirdly designed levels. Unresponsive controls, alien jumping physics, and offscreen enemy ambushes contribute to the aggravation.
The Genesis game's one major plus point is how amusingly stupid the Raptor’s plot is, as its entire mission involves chasing Dr. Grant for no reason other than it somehow knows he’s the guy from the movie. At least, I can only assume that’s the motive.
Jurassic Park’s SNES outing is represented and nobody should be thrilled about it. Like its 8-bit cousin, this is another isometric shooter in which you have to walk towards things that deal contact damage in order to fight them. The major difference between this and the NES alternative is that the SNES game's love of mazelike corridors makes it a more tedious experience.
There are ancient (and dull) first-person shooter sequences also.
Speaking of differences, Jurassic Park Portable is the same thing as Jurassic Park 8-bit, only slightly less colorful because it’s the Game Boy version. Essentially a port of the first game in this collection, its inclusion as a separate product seems almost like cheating.
Technically true is the best kind of true, I suppose.
Jurassic Park II: The Chaos Continues is a rather rudimentary 2D shooter from the SNES. It’s similar to the 16-bit classic Alien 3, only with uglier graphics and incredibly plain level designs.
There’s really not much more to say about it.
Perhaps the best game on the collection is Jurassic Park 2 for Game Boy, but not because it’s particularly great. It’s just the least offensive. The straightforward platforming and shooting leaves little room for bullshit, even if it is rather unexciting.
The fact you can swim is cute, at least.
Rounding out the compilation is Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition. Another Genesis title, it’s the best looking game of the lot, but easily the worst thing to play. Rampage Edition is, to put it nicely, a fucking shitshow. Levels are overly large sprawls of pure nonsense that's poorly signposted and scattershot in their placement of enemies and items.
The first level alone is utter misery, especially when playing as Grant, with pterodactyls constantly picking you up by the shoulders and dragging you to the start of the level regardless of how much you’ve progressed. The second stage is a chaotic sprint from left to right which drags on forever and thrusts an obnoxiously loud aircraft your way for messy chase sequences.
Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition is a terrible videogame.
I stopped playing almost every one of these things after reaching a point at which it was unclear where I was meant to go and I couldn’t be fucked to figure it out or look it up since I was having an awful time anyway. In some cases this occurred toward the end of the campaign, in others it took about five bloody minutes.
A notable exception to this is Rampage Edition. I quit playing that after it froze and assaulted my ears with garbled glitch noises while the screen filled with blue lines over silhouetted character models. Yeah, these ROMs crash as well.
Not a single title is anywhere close to good. The best one is still unremarkably pedestrian and it goes significantly downhill from there. Any nostalgia you might have for them flakes off like cheap paint within seconds of dealing with their individual brands of bullshit. The only thing this selection of software does is make Ocean look like a prolific peddler of trash.
It took me less than an hour with plenty of time to spare in order to extract everything worth extracting from the experience - that’s what I would say if anything I got out of it was actually worth the extraction.
A visually flat and uninteresting main menu cycles between each game, offering only a music player for extra content - hardly a tantalizing feature since the soundtrack of literally every game is pants. The in-game overlay menu has the cute aesthetic of a jeep’s wing mirror, but options are depressingly sparse - again, you have two filters and one single border choice, about as bare bones as you can get beyond offering fuck-all.
Games possess only one save state apiece, and the earlier mentioned obligatory rewind feature is damn near useless. You get almost no time to actually undo a mistake (or ambush), and for some reason the amount of rewinding you’re allowed varies by game - at its most extreme, the Collection gives you less than two fucking seconds, which feels like a goddamn joke more than a real feature.
I’m almost impressed that, even within the remit of the bare minimum, The Jurassic Park Collection is underwhelming. To do any less would be to impersonate the comatose.
It’s incredible to me that a publisher could ask so much for such unadorned ROMs. Added features like retrospective content, gameplay enhancements, and visual options should be a minimal standard, yet The JP Collection does almost nothing to justify its existence or ludicrous price. A depressingly barren menu of MP3s absolutely doesn't cut it.
There are so many Jurassic Park games across practically every system, many of them more notable and just plain better than what we have here. Hell, I’d have taken Jurassic Park: Trespasser over anything within this compilation. At least Trespasser was intriguing in its awfulness.
Jurassic Park Classic Games Collection is really rather sad. It looks and feels cheap, the drought of available options is stark, and the fact they couldn’t even include save states or rewind options without being extremely frugal about it is audacious at the very least. To top it off, all six games - masquerading as seven - are garbage. Pure, utter garbage. Yes, even the ones you remember.
Especially the ones you remember.