Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

FGC #372 Jurassic Park (SNES) & Jurassic Park (Sega Genesis)

Jurassic!Jurassic Park was a cultural phenomenon because it combined the two things that people love most:

  1. Dinosaurs
  2. Looking at Dinosaurs

Once it hit those two essential beats, Jurassic Park could have been the sad tale of two kids that go to the worst summer camp ever, it was going to be a success. Luckily, Steven Spielberg didn’t just rest on his dino-laurels, and decided to include a plot that at least moderately utilized science/Jeff Goldblum/Jeff Goldblum doing science. There are dinosaurs, there are hackers, and, somewhere along the line, Santa Claus learns that nature finds a way (to eat your lawyer).

When you sit down and look at the basic plot of Jurassic Park, however, you see that it was already a videogame all along. Theme parks are ideal for videogames, as they naturally produce interesting and eclectic levels without having to generate an excuse for why the volcano is six feet from the sewer. Random dinosaurs create an army of easy mooks (that one spitting dork), mid-bosses (raptors), and final bosses (terrible thunder lizards). The kids can either serve for an escort mission or some kind of assistive advice dispenser, and maybe we can toss in a hacking minigame or something. Oh! And Grant is a paleontologist! That’s a fine excuse for a fetch quest for dinosaur eggs or triceratops dung or whatever we can find. Jurassic Park the Motion Picture may as well have come with a controller, because it’s halfway to your preferred console already.

NoooooAnd, though I loathe to admit it, given the choice, Jurassic Park for the Super Nintendo would likely be exactly the game I’d create with the Jurassic Park license. Well, not exactly, but the fundamentals are there. It’s a top-down adventure-esque game in the Zelda vein. And that’s a great start! It would be easy to make Grant an action hero, but he is more of a science nerd, so it makes more sense to see him inhabiting an elf’s Pegasus boots. And the general plot and mood of the game is not one of oppressive dino-danger, it’s much more akin to a stroll through a (Jurassic) park. Granted, it’s a park where you could be devoured at any time, but the “have fun and explore” sunny blue skies and lush, green grass is a lot more inviting than a thunderstorm. And that’s what Jurassic Park is about! Sure, it’s a big, scary trek through a naturalistic horror of man’s creation, but a solid half of the movie is given over to the wonder anyone would experience when confronted with Barney’s more savage cousins. A Jurassic Park that doesn’t pause to let the player enjoy Jurassic Park seems contrary to the spirit of the movie itself, and it would be far too easy to turn JP into Grant’s murderathon.

But other than that? Jurassic Park for the SNES kind of sucks.

Jurassic Park is very Zelda-like. In fact, it’s very much like the original Legend of Zelda, a game that tells you it’s dangerous to go alone, hands you a sword, and then provides no more information. Sure, we’ve all taken it for granted with decades of Nintendo Power and speed running and maybe a cartoon or two, but The Legend of Zelda is a very confusing experience for someone with absolutely no context. What are you supposed to be doing? Why are you collecting triangles? Are these rupees for something? And why did that orange mush eat my shield? There is no Zelda tutorial, and, if you hit start on that title screen as quickly as possible, it’s entirely possible a new player would have absolutely zero information on so much as Link’s basest objective (kill pig wizard). In a similar manner, Jurassic Park welcomes you to Jurassic Park, and… that’s it. You’re on your own, Grant, and your objectives are about as clear as molasses. Kill dinosaurs? Collect eggs? Earn a high score? Nedry didn’t leave you a manual, and the occasional tip to “avoid t-rexes” isn’t exactly the most useful thing to learn after becoming tyrannosaurus poop for the third time.

Take a stepBut even assuming you’re not the most goal oriented player in the world (the goal of any theme park is to have fun!), you’re still stuck with a pretty lousy experience. Grant moves at a snail’s pace, and velociraptors… don’t. Ammo is limited, and your default, rechargeable weapon is a stun gun (lightning blaster?) that actually stuns. Knock out a dinosaur, waste too much time investigating the area, and then discover that that toothy grin is back up and barreling down on our poor hero. Dinosaurs and traps come out of nowhere, health is difficult to recover, and saves or passwords are out of the question. It’s a game where you have no idea what you’re doing, and you’re inevitably doing it poorly.

And we haven’t even gotten to the best part! The “dungeons” of Jurassic Park were 3-D, FPS-esque affairs. This could be interesting on a system that wasn’t the SNES, at a time that wasn’t the dawn of the FPS. But on this system, in this epoch? It’s terrible. The SNES controller is not equipped in any way for a FPS, and a thousand Grant corpses being devoured by a million raptors is a testament to this fact. And never mind that the graphics for these areas are just a step above something a dilophosaurus might spit out. And the back of the box has the audacity to claim “no polygons or two-dimensional sprites here! Ocean’s exclusive REAL 3-D graphics will have you screaming… for more.” I take personal offense at every word in that sentence.

Bah! This game sucks! What’s happening in the Sega Genesis version?

Awesomeness

Oh, I get a choice of characters? And the other choice is… a raptor?

Awesomeness

A jump kicking gangsta raptor!?

Awesomeness

And I can screw with Grant? For points?

Awesomeness

Yes! Raptor! Save the world!

Okay, yeah, Sega wins this round.

Being a dinosaur is the best.

FGC #372 Jurassic Park (SNES) & Jurassic Park (Sega Genesis)

  • System: Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis for this review, but also available on every other system that was available in the early 90’s. Did you know there was a NES version? It was the Gameboy version, but with color!
  • Number of players: This is going to be a good week for single player experiences.
  • Hate himFurther complaints: SNES Park has a number of dinosaur enemies… and giant dragonflies. In the one game that is all about dinosaurs, they somehow ran out of dinosaurs. I hate everything.
  • Favorite Weapon (both versions): Is this where my love of rocket launchers originates? Grant can find a few in either game, and exploding dinosaurs into meaty chunks is always a good time.
  • Other Genesis Options: You can play as Grant in Genesis Park. It is not worth it. Oh, someone incorporated the river level? Well la di da. Grant can’t eat lil’ dinos for health, and I don’t want to deal with that.
  • Did you know? The animators for Genesis Park (including Doug TenNapel) studied real, live lizards to properly animate the dinosaurs that would inevitably devour poor Grant. The creators of SNES Park, meanwhile, stuck sharp sticks in their eyes so they could properly convey human pain to the audience.
  • Would I play again: SNES Park is never happening ever. Genesis Park is a solid maybe, but only because of one thing, and that rhymes with “Slayable Maptor”.

What’s next? We’re closing out our SNES vs. Genesis duel with one wish: world peace. Just kidding. We wished for Aladdin, and it’s coming up next. Please look forward to it!

Who?

FGC #233 Bubsy 3D

What a magnificent catHere is a partial list of things made worse by Bubsy 3D:

• First and foremost, videogames are worse, as a medium, thanks to Bubsy 3D. No matter what happens, whether we see the true Citizen Kane of gaming or if a videogame somehow rescues a starving boy from a well, people will be able to point to Bubsy 3D and say, “Yeah, but Bubsy 3D happened.” Stupid biased facts.

• Cats. Bubsy Bubsy Bubsy Bubsy Boooooooobcat is, technically a bobcat, but that’s close enough. I used to be a cat person, but Bubsy has made me a dog person through association. Sorry, my furry friends, you’ll have to chase your own red dots now.

• Bobcats. I mean, duh.

• The entire Third Dimension. It was a wonderful experiment, guys, but I’m pretty sure we should go back to some manner of flat world, because it’s pretty clear we can’t be trusted with depth and the perception thereof. I realize becoming 2-D in response to one lousy videogame may seem like overreacting, but can we really risk another Bubsy 3D?

• Jumping. This one is gonna hit the plumbers right in the overalls, but jumping is also another failure. Remember when Mario went 3-D, and he was granted a punch, because it was blisteringly obvious that jumping on moving, 3-D targets was going to get really old, really fast? Yeah, Bubsy didn’t learn that lesson, and even the most motionless monster is impossible to properly bop. And once you start running into those mobile UFO things? Nope, jumping was a mistake.

Move along, cat• Walking. Bubsy 3D somehow makes the simple act of walking a terrifying ordeal. Bubsy controls like a tank/Chris Redfield, and thus must be “steered”. Bubsy can only move forward or backward, and adding any sort of angle to that equation requires rotating like a bobcat on a BBQ spit. This is less than ideal on a good day, but the dark gods responsible for Bubsy’s existence decided to add another fly to the ointment: many pathways zig-zag. Walk forward, turn slightly, walk forward, turn slightly, walk forward, turn slightly, whoops, didn’t turn enough, fall to your death. No game should include a “walking challenge”.

• Water. Delightful, life giving water spells only death for Bubsy… which kind of makes sense, because we’re dealing with a cat, and they have legendary hydrophobia (and my grandfather has the scars to prove it). Except… Bubsy 3D has underwater levels. And, brother, if you thought nobody liked water stages in good games, you won’t believe the level of terrible going on in this abomination. So with water being either instantly fatal at the slightest touch or the basis for entire stages, Bubsy 3D can’t even be internally consistent with its insanity. Stupid water.

• Oxygen. The water stages run on Sonic the Hedgehog rules, and you must ration your air supply. At this point, not breathing is just easier than relaying the rest of that horror.

Won't someone think of the children!• Aliens. The “plot” of Bubsy 3D is that Bubsy accidently stowed away on an alien spaceship (presumably the same creatures from Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind), and is now wrecking up their alien planet because… he’s a dick? This isn’t self (yarn) defense anymore, he’s just attacking aliens because they’re there. If you think this is a “Oh, that silly Goggle Bob is making a mountain out of a molehill plot” thing, consider that the intro of the game features a panicked alien populace shouting, “What are we going to do!?” Bubsy looks bad, aliens look bad, and, somewhere, Steven Spielberg has a headache, and doesn’t know why.

• Cars. Cats should not be allowed to drive.

• The Mighty Atom. Despite being the building blocks of all matter in the known universe, and, incidentally, really really tiny, Bubsy attempts to use generics atoms as projectiles in Bubsy 3D. I say “attempts” because they are difficult to aim, will detonate and damage Bubsy if he holds one for too long, and, for reasons unknown, will boomerang and hurt Bubsy if they don’t hit anything. In short, atoms are the worst “powerup” in all of gaming. Imagine if a Fire Flower lit Mario ablaze, and you basically have the gist of it.

• Yarn. It doesn’t appear much in the game, but I don’t think I’m even capable of dealing with another yarn pun.

• Puns. No explanation necessary.

• Western gaming. You don’t see Japan cranking out crap like this. Well, you do, but usually it’s wrapped up in some kind of random sexual perversion, so at least you can admire their dedication to their craft. Incidentally, that “craft” is “panties”.

What even just happened?• The Sega 32X. This game was originally planned to be on the 32X, possibly one of the most under-supported gaming systems ever released. Star Wars, Doom, and that hummingbird game. There was a Sonic the Hedgehog game… starring & Knuckles. Sonic couldn’t make it. Doing his hair. Bubsy was originally slated to appear on the 32X, but his handlers decided that 32X wasn’t selling well enough, so the game was ported to Playstation. The Sega 32X wasn’t good enough for Bubsy. Forget After Burner, the 32X already has more burns than it can handle.

• The Playstation. No matter how much Sony owns the console market, it will always be the company responsible for allowing this game into our homes. The Playstation is worse for it. And, what’s more, since the Playstation brand had backwards compatibility up through the Playstation 3, Bubsy 3D is technically playable on three different systems. That’s three more systems than should have ever been allowed!

• The Sega Saturn. This was the second system to be snubbed by Bubsy 3D. Despite initial plans to ship Bubsy to Saturn, that trip was permanently delayed when Bubsy 3D was received about as well as a bobcat visiting a preschool. Under normal circumstances, not hosting Bubsy 3D would be a good thing, but the Saturn marks the second Sega system to be snubbed by the bobcat. That’s, like, how big of a failure do you have to be to be ignored by Bubsy twice?

• The Whole of Human History. In a way, we all responsible for letting Bubsy 3D happen.

And now a complete list of things not made worse by Bubsy 3D:

• Bubsy. Seriously, after his previous adventures how could he get any worse? The bottom is a lonely place, and, apparently, it’s home to a bobcat.

FGC #233 Bubsy 3D

  • System: Playstation, where it should stay contained.
  • Number of players: Oh yeah, there’s a 2-Player “death match”. Please don’t ask me to explain how that works in a shoddy 3-D platformer.
  • Just play the gig man: I can barely notice the insipid music, but the constant “cartoony” sound effects in Bubsy 3D are cause for alarm. I thought Scooby-Doo had poor sound design, but I had no idea.
  • Say something nice: The doctors tell me that my vision will return shortly, so at least the horrid graphics of this adventure do not cause permanent blindness.
  • How about some nightmare fuel? Sure!
    MELT AWAY TO NOTHING
  • Did you know? This was Bubsy’s creator’s return to Bubsy. He claimed that Bubsy 2 had damaged the Bubsy brand, and this was going to make Bubsy all better. Bubsy never headlined another game again.
  • Would I play again: If I do, that’s your sign that I have been replaced by some manner of replicant. If that occurs, do not hesitate, and please use a bazooka on “me” immediately. It’s better for all of us.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… House of the Dead: Overkill for Nintendo Wii! Hey! That might actually be fun! Who doesn’t like shooting zombies? Please look forward to it!

Serously?