Review by Chocobahn
The giant asteroid did not come soon enough
Ever dreamt about being palaeontologist, digging up dinosaurs fossil, bringing them back to life and do battle with other dinosaurs? Well, put your Jurassic Park DVD into your DVD player and press play. You will enjoy that more than you ever will with this game.
***** Plot *****
There is no plot. Basically you are a palaeontologist who goes around the world digging up dinosaurs fossils and bring them back to the laboratory where a machine will bring life to the fossils. You then use your dinosaurs to do what dinosaurs do best, pointlessly kill one another.
***** Gameplay *****
There are three modes, Fossil Hunt (where you will spend most of your time digging up fossils), Laboratory (where you revive your new found fossil), and Battle (where your dinosaurs do battle). None of which are in the least entertaining.
In Fossil Hunt, you can choose which site you want to excavate, but they are all the same. Upon choosing a site, you have to go through multiple levels of the same thing to clear the stage. If you die before you clear it, everything you found up until then will disappear, and you will have to start over.
Each stage starts off as a rectangular field populated with a 'boss' and its minnows. Your aim is to reduce the size of the rectangle while at the same time, a) avoid the boss and its minnows and b) reveal the fossil underneath the surface. You do this by moving your little palaeontologist with a stylus into the site and form a square, rectangle or whatever shape you want. The shape would be 'digged out' and reveal whatever it is underneath. One of the sides must be the perimeter. By digging out the site, the fiends inside will have less space to move.
If time runs out, you die. If a fiend touches you, you die. If a fiend touches the green line that you are leaving behind as part of the shape you are creating, a sparkle will chase after you. If it reaches you, you die. If you die too many times, it's game over.
There are 'bonuses' in the shape of a crate with a yellow question mark over it that would blink at the same spot. If your shape is formed while the crate appears, you will get its content. It could be go faster, stop the monster, spot the fossil, etc. They all last only a short time none are really that helpful.
If you managed to dig up a certain percentage of the field, you clear the stage. But that doesn't mean you have found a fossil. You might clear the site before finding it. For a game that relies on finding a fossil, this is disappointing. I'm not here to dig for the sake of digging. When you found your fossil, you would normally get the hell out of there. Not so in this game. You have to clear the percentage before it lets you move on. For what purpose, I don't know.
One of the problems I have with this mode is that the control is not responsive. My iffy little man sometimes refuses to let me poke him. He just stands at his spot, refuses to move until a bug, spider, monster, his past or whatever caught up with him. He of course, dies a horrible death.
Each and every stage is the same. Starts off a rectangular field, dig your way through, find a fossil if you are lucky. Rinse and repeat. Monsters might look different, but they have the same aim - kill you. Why? I don't know. Maybe you stink.
If, somehow, you survive the repeated boring task of excavating the fossils, you can now revive them back to life. Depending on the quality of your fossil, you can get good, normal or poor fossil. Poor fossil means crap dinosaur, and so on.
All you need to do to revive the dinosaurs is to pick the fossil you want to revive in the Laboratory. Easy. And pointless. The lab also allows you to look at fossils you have collected, as well as skills you have acquired.
What to do with revived dinosaurs? What is a better way to dispose of them by battling them against other dinosaurs? You can't display them in a park anyway. So you go out there and challenge another NPC's dinosaur till the death. You dinosaurs actually don't die, they just lose.
Before battle, you can 'equip' your dinosaurs with technique you have discovered during your fossil hunt. Technique is broken into offensive and defensive. Obviously, offensive is all about hitting your opponent hard and defensive is mostly counter-attacks. Once equipped, you can fight your way till kingdom comes. There are multiple areas on your opponent where you can hit. Choose one. Next is to choose an area on your dinosaurs where you think it will get attacked. If you defend the wrong area, your dinosaurs will obviously get hit. Same as your opponent. It is basically a battle of who last the longest. Skill plays almost no part in it.
***** Graphics *****
If this game was released in the era of Game Boy Colour, I would say 'Wow, so colourful'. But this is the 21st century. The graphics is horrible. The monsters, your little man and his car are clearly defined with solid colour for a kid's game, but that is it. The dirt underneath the surface is a blend colour of brown.
During battle, there is not an animation in sight. The dinosaurs are represented with a still image, filled with brown, bit of green, and some other colours. The dinosaurs feel washed out and copied straight from a kid's 'Hunt That Dinosaur' colouring book. Kids could probably do a better job of colouring them in.
***** Sound *****
Sound can be largely ignored. It is as ancient as dinosaurs themselves. None of the music is catchy, and all are repeated and boring. Most of the dinosaur war / death cries last all of 0.8 seconds, and all sound generic and blend. Any game made in 1986 sounds better than this game.
***** Replay Value ******
There are supposedly 100 different dinosaurs to collect, which only means one things, more than 100 torturous levels to go through. You can find a different class of the same fossils, but the environment and gameplay is exactly the same everywhere. It gets tired pretty soon.
In the age of dinosaurs, arrows have not been invented yet. So you have no long range weapons. It's brutal force all the way. You get to choose the kind of skills you equip your dinosaur, but it does not seem to make any difference. Luck plays a major part in it. You kill a dinosaur, next. You kill the next one, there are more. Repeat till the end of time, or when the asteroid hit Earth. Seriously, the asteroid did not come soon enough.
***** Overall *****
Palaeontologist is not a glamorous job. Their task is painstakingly slow. But at least you appreciate their work when you see the T-Rex skeleton that greets you at the front of the museum. However, you would appreciate nothing of this game. In fact, you would stop being friend with whoever it is that give this game to you. And if it was yourself, well, you have my sympathy.
This game is boring, repetitive and ugly. The task of digging is hindered by unresponsive control and giant monsters that should have been extinct along with the dinosaurs. The sound is so retro-ly outdated; graphics are blend and the battle system is primitive at best. If you tell me this game was made in 1986, I would have believed you. The asteroid or whatever it was that killed the dinosaurs should have killed this game as well.
* Supposedly lots of dinosaurs to collect
* Unresponsive control
* Blend graphics
* Retro sound
* Primitive gameplay
* Basically everything
Score (out of 10)
Rating: 1.0 - Terrible
Product Release: Dino Master (EU, 06/29/07)
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