There have been a huge number of dino-centric games released over the lifetime of the video game industry. We’ve already looked at some of our favorites in our list of the best dinosaur games around op-ed. Unfortunately, anything that has room for a best of list also has a space for failure as well. Without further ado, look over our list of the 7 worst dinosaur games that should have remained extinct.
Released in 1998 by EA, Trespasser attempted to tell the story of Anne, the sole survivor of a plane crash on Isla Sorna, also known as InGen’s Site B. The hype for this game was very high, and the system specs to run this game at that time were also at the top end, limiting the penetration this title was able to achieve on its PC gaming customer base. This proved to be alright, as the game was a hot mess when it was released. The game debuted at the same time The Lost World was released on VHS, marking one of the earliest cases of a publisher/dev (EA) potentially ruining a game by releasing it prior to QA tuning in order to share a release date with other media. Trespasser had some notable innovations. The player’s health, for instance, was displayed via a heart tattoo on Anne’s left breast, keeping the HUD mostly clear (and forcing players to look down
their shirt any time they needed to see how close to death they were). The game also featured an interesting object interaction system: players could use their right hand via the mouse to pick up guns, manually move items to attempt to build things to solve puzzles, etc etc. Unfortunately, both systems were flawed; the health system, while an interesting idea, was thought to be in poor taste. The hand system, meanwhile, was so poorly realized that the game was almost impossible to complete, as the wrist/arm movements lacked enough fine control to be easily used. By rushing this game to release, EA effectively killed it, leaving it as “limp wrist simulator” rather than first person shooter. P.S. Do yourself a favor and look at Trespasser screenshots and art. They are good for a laugh. Like this one.
A 2D fighting game developed by Atari/Time Warner, Primal Rage featured giant prehistoric beasts fighting each other in a post apocalyptic world. The game did have a unique feature in that you had human worshipers that followed you and your opponent in the background. These tiny minions would occasionally run onto the field, where they could be scooped up and eaten for points and a bit of health. Primal Rage fell short in a few departments, unfortunately. The game featured a paltry 7 fighters (with two being palette swaps of the same skin), and the normal console versions (SNES and Genesis) looked worse than their handheld (Gameboy/Game Gear) counterparts. The game was also targeted by a parent group for its gory graphics and subject matter, which resulted in the game being pulled from retail stores in some areas. While not a terrible game, it is easily outshone by the other fighters of its time, with Killer Instinct being a better example of what fighting games of the time should have been.
Developed by Spiral Studios and distributed over Steam, ORION is a textbook example of the strange nature of post release updates and early access titles for PC. Originally launched May 4th 2012, ORION limped out of the gate as a small team FPS featuring dinosaurs and HALO Spartan human solider look-alikes. Often criticized for lag and lack of content, ORION had no campaign to speak of, and was pretty much just a HALO:ODST style horde mode game with an extra large map. Although playable single player, the nature of the game made this largely unfeasible, as a single player would be overrun quite quickly. To their credit, Spiral Studios adjusted the pricing and continued working on the title, including multiple subname changes. I will admit that, when purchased at a low price and played with friends, this title mostly pulls itself out of the “bad game” pile, albeit somewhat clumsily. You can visualize the clumsy and changing nature of ORION by comparing its Steam User Rating (mostly positive) against its Metacritic Score (resoundingly negative).
This RTS from Dreamwork Interactive was based on the (admittedly horrible) Lost World motion picture. Players recruited and controlled a set of characters from the movie, and used them to scout for supplies, construct buildings and vehicles, and raise dinosaurs to assist them in their missions. While the premise is actually sort of neat, the execution on this title was terrible. Being hamstrung by its subject matter, Chaos Island ended up as a subpar offering, both from a gameplay and graphical standpoint. Released in 1997, the game could not even hold a candle to its predecessors (notable examples being Command & Conquer and Warcraft II). Animations were somewhat clunky, and the music in particular was just plain awful. The voice acting was well done, however, and had some 4th wall breaking moments. My favorite instance of this featured Eddie Carr, who upon selection would say “Didn’t I die? In the movie, I think I died.” This statement is interesting in that Carr did in fact die in the movie, as opposed to the novel, where he safely escapes the island. Chaos Island‘s system for building bases and hatching dinosaurs was interesting; constructing objects required supplies that were hidden around each map, while dinosaurs were created by stealing eggs from active nests and hatching them in an incubator. While not awful, this author was disappointed with the offering, but would like to see the game given another shot with today’s technology. A remake not tied to a film release could be very entertaining.
This app developed by Ludia allows players to construct their own version of Jurassic Park on their mobile phone or tablet. The graphics are actually quite good, and the gameplay is reasonably fun, but the whole presentation suffers under the Free to Play, Pay to Win business model. After the first 30 minutes or so of play, most players will be forced to wait as their resources slowly tick up to a point where more actions can be taken. This can be hustled along by purchasing those resources with real world money, should a player decide to do so. Multiple of the buildings and dinosaurs are only available if you purchase them with cold hard cash as well. Players wishing to remain free to play will be stuck checking their device at timed intervals if they hope to proceed through the game. I would have rather paid $10 to have a full version of this game on a mobile device (hell, I’d clunk down $20-30 for a fully realized release on PC), but the industry and sales numbers don’t lie; this game is likely much more profitable given its current state than as a normal release. I worry that this situation will have dire effects down the road for both developers and consumers, but that’s a discussion for another article.
Here is tragic story that literally pains me as I commit it to the interwebs. It’s a cautionary tale that must be shared, however, if we are ever to surpass issues like this in the future. Kickstarted successfully by Alex Fundora, Stomping Lands set out to be a a sandbox survival game in a prehistoric setting. Players would form tribes, gather resources, and hunt dinosaurs for food, materials, and mounts. Initial looks at the title showed promise, even as the Early Access and backer pre-releases showed the game to be quite buggy. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line things feel apart. The developer stopped interacting with backers, the updates slowed to a crawl, and the primary dinosaur modeler left the project. He departed with his assets in January to work on another project after having not heard from developer Alex “Jig” Fundora since September of 2014. Now abandoned, Stomping Lands has been removed from Steam. Backers are unlikely to get a refund, either. Such is the nature and inherent danger of Kickstarter projects; sometimes, they just don’t turn up. Those upset about the demise of this title might find some solace in ARK: Survival Evolved, which is quite similar, and was showcased in our best dinosaur games article.
Wrapping up our list of dinosaur games that should have stayed extinct is this offering by Ubisoft Quebec. Attempting to cash in on the heady profit days of the Wii and DS/3DS platforms, this subpar offering was light on teaching players and gameplay systems in general. While the graphics took great advantage of the excellent hardware they were on, this seems to have allowed the dev to believe they could focus on that over game systems and fun factor. The results speak for themselves over at Metacritic.
There you have it. Our list of 7 Dinosaur games that should have stayed buried. What do you think? Is something missing from this list? Disagree with our reasoning? Let us know! Comment below. Want some more positive vibes for dino games? Check out our 7 best list right here!