Friday, October 7, 2022

Jurassic Park in Sega CD Summer

The cover for Jurassic Park on the Sega CD
Sega CD Summer is out! This is the fifth entry in the Sega Tote Series

The Sega Genesis version of Jurassic Park features prominently in Chapter 17 of Sega CD Summer. Tommy's friend Andy breezes his way through the 16-bit platformer.

I didn't have the Genesis version of the game, although I rented it a couple times. I thought the graphics were good and the cutscenes set the mood. You could play as Dr. Grant or a raptor, which was neat. The gameplay, however, was frustrating with respawning dinosaur enemies, ineffective weapons, and unclear goals within levels. Still, Jurassic Park was a big enough deal to feature prominently in the book.

One of Mr. Glad's pranks involves the movie and sets up a significant misadventure for Tommy and company. The characters make several JP references. The movie came out in 1993; the events of Sega CD Summer take place in 1994, when Jurassic Park was still top of mind. It was not, of course, a movie franchise at that point. There was no The Lost World: Jurassic Park or Camp Cretaceous or Jurassic World.

The video game landscape was significantly different in those days. Due to licensing deals or studio resources, the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo often ended up with entirely different games based on the same IP. Such was the case with Jurassic Park; while the Genesis got a platformer with digitized graphics, the Super Nintendo got a top-down adventure game that looked more cartoonish and played completely differently.

For the Sega CD, a version that does not feature in the book despite its Sega CD Summer title, Jurassic Park was more of a point-and-click adventure game, sort of a mixture between a LucasArts adventure game and something like Myst. You know the type of game: there's a door that needs a keycard but you have to find the keycard somewhere before you can open the door.

The game involved a lot of walking and exploration. My favorite part involved informational kiosks around the park that featured paleontologist Robert T. Bakker, who provided brief video segments about the different types of dinosaurs at the park. 

As a kid, the velociraptors really did freak me out. I never finished the game and didn't make it to the raptor cave. I did accidentally discover the "Node Jumper," a mode that let you watch all the videos or jump to any of the different levels. 

All in all, the 16-bit Jurassic Park games weren't terrific. It's actually surprising that the Sega CD version wasn't just the Genesis version with video clips and a CD-quality soundtrack, since that's what usually happened.