Dinosaurs: we’ve known they were great pretty much forever. With Jurassic World debuting this weekend, we are re-connecting as a society with the wonderment we had for these incredible creatures. I’m sure most of us had a set of ironic little plastic dinosaurs at one point or another. The unfortunate reality now is that it’s not socially acceptable for most of us assumed adults to play pretend with these shining gems of our youth. But have no fear: DPrime is here, and we’ve got just the ticket for you! Check our Top 7 list of the Best Digital Dinosaur Games, offered in no particular order.
This team-based human vs Dino combat sim from Circle 5 Games is one of the best multiplayer deathmatch games I have ever played. Five different dinosaurs are available to play, each with their own unique skillset and gameplay style. Pteradactyls patrol the skies, scouting the enemy and buffing their ground based peers. Dilophosaurs bring a ranged game to the table, while Velociraptors, Carnosaurs, and the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex provide ambush, hit and run, and shock and awe tactics, respectively. The humans also have 5 balanced classes and actually put up a great fight if they stick together and watch each other’s backs. With a few different game modes, this is an easy pickup for anyone who wants their opponent to dub them “clever girl.”
One of my all time favorites, and possibly one of the most innovative games regarding the subject matter. E.V.O. first casts us as the hero to Gaia, daughter to the Sun and mystical embodiment of earth. Players begin as a lowly coelacanth, and must battle through different eras of prehistoric history, ever evolving, hoping to become Gaia’s savior. The game plays as a 2D action platformer with some notable twists. The biggest innovation is the evolution system: as you defeat enemies (by clawing, biting, and charging them), you will gain EV points. These points can be used to buy evolutionary “upgrades” specific to the class of creature you are (be that Fish, Amphibian, Reptile/Dinosaur, Bird, Mammal, or even Human!). This system allowed you a lot of creative license, with some forms being more effective than others. E.V.O. also sported semi-branching storylines as well, making for some replay value, particularly when you factor in the build-a-predator gameplay. If you are a retro game hunter and enjoy dinosaurs, this is absolutely a must have. Heck, even if you aren’t, this might be one of the best games ever delivered on the SNES, and certainly deserves your consideration.
A relative newcomer to the field, ARK debuted in Steam Early Access on June 2nd. Trying to shoulder its way into the crowded genre of “multiplayer sandbox survival/whatever else,” ARK actually seems to have spent enough time pre-release to have a level of shine we don’t often associate with early access titles. Your standard “wake up naked, mine to survive” metrics are in play here, but are done fairly well. The game looks beautiful, sports some great co-operative systems and opportunities, and allows you to not only build the house/town/ fortress of your dreams, you can then ride from your main base to your summer home in style on one of your captured and tamed prehistoric beasts! While its time in the field thus far is limited, it’s experience so far has greatly exceeded expectations.
The best realized version of the Jurassic Park “Build a Park” games, Operation Genesis puts you in charge of designing and maintaining your own terrible lizard tourist trap. Originally released for the PS2, Xbox, and PC, Operation Genesis, the game had a mission structure to accompany all it’s sim management aspects. Your difficulties range from building facilities, monetizing and managing visitor expectations, supplying adequate food, and insulating your ancient “assets” from stress as best you can. Finishing the game unlocks a “Site B” mode that gives you a blank island without tourists or pre-existing buildings, allowing you to simulate a dinosaur habitat with as little human meddling as possible. Interestingly enough, the game is fairly rare, with PS2 versions often garnering $50-60, while Xbox and PC versions have sold for north of $100.
A pivotal title in gaming and dinosaur history, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter has a number of interesting qualities about it. Published by Acclaim, Turok was one of the earliest console exclusives for the N64, and received critical acclaim. This first person shooter was based on the comic of the same name, and was one of the first titles rated “M” by the ESRB to see widespread success in the US. While by no means perfect, the game deserves mention for the multiple contributions it has made to the gaming industry, and to dinosaur games in particular. The series went on to spawn 6 sequels, each with varying degrees of success.
And oldie but goodie, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs is one of the least-known games on our list. Developed by Capcom as an arcade game (yes, cabinet), this 3 player co-op beat-em up has players controlling 1 of 4 character from Xenozoic Tales, the post apocalyptic comic by Mark Schultz. Players fight against human and dinosaur enemies alike, trying to preserve their world of apex predators and automobiles. Playing like Final Fight or Double Dragon, this is a rare treat. If you are into arcade cabinets or emulation, give this one a whirl; you will not be disappointed.
One of the first games to sport dinosaurs, Adventure Island is an excellent platformer offered by the now-defunct developer Hudson (DAMN YOU KONAMI! Why must you ruin the things we love?). Players control Master Higgins, a young pacific islander, on his quest to defeat an evil witch doctor and rescue a princess. Higgins has access to a number of powerful tools, including stone axes, boomerangs, skateboards, and dinosaurs. Higgins is able to use his scaly friends as weapons and a means of conveyance, akin to what we have seen in Little Nemo: The Dream Master or Kirby’s Dreamland 2. Each of Higgins’ prehistoric pals offers him unique abilities, ranging from different breath weapons to better handling in water, and more. If you didn’t get a chance to play through this classic series when they were new, do yourself a favor, hit your closest video gaming archaeology site and dig yourself up a copy or two.
There you have it friends. The best of the best, in our somewhat humble opinion. What do you think? Have you played any of these great titles? Did we miss something that should be on this list? Let us know below!