When Jurassic Park launched in 1993, it was inevitable there would be a bunch of video game adaptations. And the SNES got one. Roar! Snarl! Slobber!
Jurassic Park on the SNES
This is an odd SNES title, as it had some pretty cutting-edge things about it. Yet it also labours under one utterly disastrous problem (more on that soon).
The American division of Ocean Software Inc. took on the project. The game launched in October 1993—around the same time as the film here in England.
The company paid a lot of money for the license and clearly did try hard to make the most of the opportunity.
But, straight up, the main problem with the game is the total lack of a save option. Which makes no sense.
It’s styled like an action adventure RPG, similar to A Link to the Past. Imagine Nintendo’s classic without a save option. That’s Jurassic Park on the SNES for you. Except the game is nowhere near as good.
It still baffles us decades later. We remember playing it and getting pretty far—then having to turn the console off to go and do kid stuff (e.g. fall over and burst into tears).
Of course, we’d turn the SNES off well in the knowledge we’d have to start afresh if we ever wanted to play Jurassic Park on the SNES again. Ocean—that is bad. Naughty Ocean!
As you may be able to tell, we didn’t really get very far with the title due to that idiotic programming decision.
But for what it’s worth, you take control of palaeontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill in the film). And there’s a top-down perspective to proceedings.
He and the film’s other man characters are stuck on the island with ferocious dinosaurs running riot. And they have to get off the thing to survive.
As Grant, you have a cattle prod to start the game off. But you can get better weapons, such as a rocket launched type thing. You can also bump into the T. Rex quickly.
We liked that bit as a kid—you just approached an area of trees and then out came this lumbering massive dinosaur.
You could then run away quickly—T. Rex would get bored and reverse into the trees. It looks dodgy now, kind of like generic platformer Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics.
The real surprise at the time was the inclusion of an FPS section. Now, Doom was on the SNES by that point.
But Ocean’s 3D element really did add quite a bit of suspense to the title. If you go inside a building, that’s where the FPS kicks in.
And there’s the likes of velociraptors in there prowling about. This was completed at the behest of Steven Spielberg, who was after a groundbreaking gaming experience.
It was tough getting a clip of this off YouTube, so below is the best example we could upload. That’s not the game’s music there.
Spielberg probably should have hired Rare, as the developer’s pre-rendered graphics for Donkey Kong Country (1994) were the talk of the town within half a year of Jurassic Park games. Ocean’s use of texture mapping looked the part only briefly.
Still, Ocean did have the sense to include arguably the video game world’s greatest elevator music in history.
It makes quite the contrast to the carnage surrounding you. But rather than proving a jarring shift, it actually works rather well.
Once you’re in the visitor centre, simply hop into a lift and bask in the merry delights of this little upbeat ditty.
Anyway, there’s a title to explore here and the unusual mix of exploration and FPS does make for a good video game.
You go about collecting key cards to open new areas, wiping out all manner of rampaging dinosaurs in the process. Then you’ll make it pretty far and start to think you’re really making solid progress.
And then you turn the game off and have to start all over again next time out.
Stupid? Yes. Given the budget involved in this title, which dumbass thought it was a great idea to skip on a save feature?
We’ve come up with a few reasons why anyone would want to do this:
- Due to stupidity.
- To annoy gamers.
- To try and make the game appear longer than it is.
- Because Ocean forgot to include it.
- Due to a drunken mistake.
- To be different.
By late 1993, save features were very common. Especially for major adventure titles. However, we should note Earthworm Jim didn’t have one. Neither did the sequel.
It did have a password feature, though, so you could resume from the level you were on by entering that into the password section.
Jurassic Park on the SNES? Sod all. And with that, Ocean ruined the full potential of the gaming experience. Clever girl? No.