Jurassic Park Arcade (Arcade) Review
You’ll never guess what I got to play. Wait, hold on. I just realized that you probably put two-and-two together based on the title of the article. Never mind.
Before we begin, I'd like to take a moment to explain to you all why I haven't updated in ages. In short, I've been busy. I've been filling out a RIDICULOUS Governor's Scholar Application, and I started a School Newspaper Club. (Our first edition came out today!) November was just...terrible. I was so busy, and I absolutely hated it.
But yeah, it’s true that I played Jurassic Park Arcade. I totally got to beat the game in a mall while in Louisville for a Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA) conference back in November. In total, it was a 36-minute experience that cost me $11. At $1.00 per credit, I’d say that I wasn’t too shabby. (Only 10 continues! It’ll be even lower when I get to play it again next year!) It was definitely a lot of fun getting to play such a wicked game that I never get to see. Despite the fact that I write about arcade games, like, all the time, I hardly ever get to actually play them. I liken the feeling of playing an arcade game for the first time in months to someone with, like, a substance addiction using that substance for the first time in months.
That sounds awful.
You know what I mean, right?
Whatever. Just read the review.
Jurassic Park Arcade
Developer: Raw Thrills
Publisher: Raw Thrills
Release Date: 2015
If you’re a fan of spray-and-pray rail shooters, you’ll have a lot of fun with this one. If you like more traditional point-and-shoot rail shooters, however, don’t completely discredit Jurassic Park Arcade before you try it. Maybe it’s the intense cinematic presentation, or maybe it’s the Jurassic Park license, but this game somehow feels so much better than any spray-and-pray shooter Namco or Sega has put out. When compared to, say, Let’s Go Jungle, Jurassic Park Arcade feels miles ahead of the competition.
Jurassic Park Arcade is definitely a good game for attempting one-credit completions and chasing high scores. The difficulty is incredibly fair and rewarding; cheap hits are rare, and the game isn’t designed to rob you of your hard-earned cash. You’ll also find that there are tons of dinosaurs sprinkled all throughout the environments. Furthermore, staying on the lookout for hidden ambrosia bonuses (more on that in “Content”) is always engaging.
My only real complaint is that “Bullet time” and swarm enemies are just a bit too overabundant for their own good. Fortunately, they don’t completely hamper the experience. Even if you’d rather playing a more traditional rail shooter like Time Crisis 5, I still highly recommend Jurassic Park Arcade. Raw Thrills went through a lot of trouble to eliminate the monotony typically associated with spray-and-pray shooters by adding grenades, hidden weapons, hidden bonuses, and cinematic events.
In terms of length, Jurassic Park Arcade is pretty average. It’s shorter than most Raw Thrills rail shooters (my total playtime was 36 minutes), but it’s not too shabby compared to other games within the genre. As opposed to having three or four large, continuous levels, Jurassic Park Arcade is broken up into nine brief missions. Whether you prefer this or not is all a matter of personal opinion, but the shorter missions do make it easier to pop in and play for a few minutes at a time.
Where this game truly shines is in the level of collectible content. Jurassic Park Arcade showcases five unique hidden weapons. This includes the X-22 Renegade (a much more powerful machine gun); the Titan 2000 (a more shotgun-esque weapon); the Shockbolt (a weapon that shoots streams of electricity); the Frostbite Cannon (a weapon that freezes enemies); and the Triple Threat (an even more shotgun-esque weapon that shoots three bullets at once). These hidden weapons provide much-needed variance in the gameplay and make certain nuisances (bullet time and swarm enemies) infinitely easier. Special weapons are frequent enough and last long enough for you to get real enjoyment out of them—and stop hearing that gosh darned machine gun fire so much. (Naturally, being a spray-and-pray rail shooter, machine gun fire is pretty much constant.) You can also collect more grenades, which is good.
Jurassic Park Arcade also offers a fun treat for those looking to increase their score: ambrosia collectibles hidden in each level. While the hidden ambrosia does not affect gameplay, it does increase replayability and require players to be more observant during missions. Collecting ambrosia was often a fluke for me, but it was always super fun to see that, hey, I got a thing!
Overall, I don’t see anybody getting bored with this game too terribly soon. Like I said, Raw Thrills did a lot to eliminate any possible monotony.
This is one of the few mounted-gun rail shooters I’ve played where the reticle and your gun feel accurately lined up. The onscreen action aligns perfectly with your physical aiming, and that’s a huge plus for me.
The mounted light gun has two buttons: one for shooting and one for grenades. The gun has two handles with this set of two buttons on both sides of the gun. (Very accommodating for left-handed players, you see.)
Beyond that, it’s pretty simple. Like any spray-and-pray rail shooter, you don’t have to reload. (How I miss the days of shooting off-screen to reload.) Luckily, Raw Thrills does a good job of making Jurassic Park Arcade feel just a bit more interesting controls-wise than other games of this type.
In 2015, this was definitely the best-looking Raw Thrills game up to that point. And heck, Jurassic Park Arcade still looks pretty good. (Though it’s extremely upsetting that The Walking Dead looks just like this game, graphically speaking. It’s been two years, Raw Thrills—we need better hardware.)
There’s not much (if anything at all) to complain about in terms of graphics. As is to be expected, the game runs at 60 frames-per-second on a crisp 1080p HD display. The dinosaur models and environments presented on said display are grand, detailed, and beautiful. Everything comes together gorgeously and creates a very real sense of being on an island full of larger-than-life prehistoric creatures.
The only real complaint I have is that some models, particularly the human characters, feel just a bit too low-poly/plastic-y for a 2015 arcade game. (It’s MUCH better for arcade games to be ahead of home consoles rather than behind them, which is why I’m so picky about my polygons.) Also, as I’ve come to notice with many Raw Thrills games, some character animations are a bit stilted. However, the dinosaurs as whole move incredibly realistically. Eugene Jarvis really did have a lot to brag about back when this game was in development. Seeing those Tyrannosaurus Rexes wreak havoc is a glorious sight.
Like I said, it was definitely Raw Thrills’s best looking game at the time, and it still holds up remarkably well. Jurassic Park Arcade does, of course, suffer from some Raw Thrills-isms, but it’s nothing too egregious.
This is where Jurassic Park Arcade—already an amazing game on its own merits—is made even more awesome. The cabinet is a behemoth. Jurassic Park Arcade was encased in Raw Thrills’s first deluxe environmental cabinet, and they did a fine job for their first outing. There’s beautiful art and new-fangled LEDs plastered all over the danged thing. Even the inside of the cabinet appears to have been carefully designed, as there are a bunch of neat little stickers everywhere. Jurassic Park Arcade may not have all of the proverbial bells and whistles that Cruis’n Blast and The Walking Dead went on to pioneer, but it certainly doesn’t slouch off. Raw Thrills proved that a deluxe environmental cabinet could be both wicked cool and cost-effective (“only” $12,475).
Here’s where we run into trouble, though. The cabinet might be awesome, but it’s also…like, not-awesome, I guess? With a cabinet so over-the-top, you’re bound to have to pay a pretty penny. The game may not be that difficult (and thusly not require as many continues), but a dollar per credit is kind of pushing it for most players. What happened to Raw Thrills games being 50 cents a credit? But of course, when an operator has to pay 12-grand for a new game, the player has to pay, too—big time. This is not a problem with the game itself, obviously. I just really hate that Raw Thrills hasn’t bothered to release a standard upright cab for one of their most popular games.
Seriously, people: Terminator Salvation got FOUR cabinet variations, and Jurassic Park Arcade only has two (one of which is basically the same cabinet but with motion simulation). Does Raw Thrills care about those of us who can’t shell out a dollar per credit or $12,475 for a new arcade game? Perhaps not. It's anyone's guess at this point.
Anyway, that’s the end of my tangent. It’s a cool cab. My favorite aspects are definitely the 55-inch screen and the vibration effects. It creates this crazy immersive feeling that's almost indescribable. When you go play this game, I want you to keep your "eyes" out for a moment in the game when the entire seat is just like "DOOM." I know that makes zero sense now, but you'll understand when you play it. It literally FEELS like a gigantic dinosaur stomping next to you, but like in your ENTIRE body. The force feedback seats are incredible.
My main complaint with this game’s sound is the underwhelming use of the great soundtrack. I was playing in a mall lobby (perhaps the quietest place to play an arcade game) and I still didn’t really hear the music. Voice acting and sound effects are just so much louder—so much more overpowering—that you don’t get to truly enjoy Jurassic Park Arcade’s wonderful soundtrack. Occasionally, you’ll hear the music, but a most of the time, the constant stream of bullets will dampen all other sounds.
The soundtrack is a mixture of original compositions and licensed music from Killer Tracks. It’s all good music, but it’s kind of odd that Raw Thrills didn’t just produce a wholly original soundtrack. However, the vast majority of the songs are original, and the licensed tracks are quite good, so it’s not too much of a problem. If you’re really paying attention, you’re bound to be impressed by the orchestral compositions that accompany gameplay and make everything feel just a bit more intense.
The voice acting can be a bit cheesy (listen for “This is NOT good” and “This place gives me the creeps”), but it’s definitely not House of the Dead-tier stuff. Gun and dinosaur sound effects are spot-on, though, so don’t worry about that too much.
With all that being said, I guess there’s not much more to…well, say. Jurassic Park Arcade does a fantastic job of immersing you in sound, and everything sounds wicked cool. The only true problem is, once again, the sometimes not-so audible music. But hey, I’ve come to expect that from modern arcade games. (I know it’s possible to make a rail shooter with loud music, Raw Thrills! I’ve seen CarnEvil!)
Here's a good song from the OST, brought to you by the always-wonderful RandomAccessGamer:
Jurassic Park Arcade was a big surprise for me. I never expected to be “wowed” by a spray-and-pray rail shooter, but here I am. Raw Thrills took everything I hate about my least favorite rail shooter subgenre and made it INFINITELY better. They, as they usually do, went the extra mile. If you’re willing to spend about $10 to $15, I highly recommend you go out and play Jurassic Park Arcade today. You (hopefully) won’t regret it. I know I regret writing this article. It took too long.
Now when are we gonna get Target: Terror 2?