Dinosaurs have always been a good subject for video games, whether that’s playing as a Dinosaur tearing innocent people apart, or unloading rounds of machine gun fire into their scaly faces, or beating them to death with clubs, or fighting them as a giant ape on Skull Island. I think most people enjoy a good Dinosaur game. In many ways they have had just as much success in the video game medium as they have had in any other, and in this article I am going to run down my 10 favourite Dinosaur games from all platforms.
10/ Turok Dinosaur Hunter
For the Nintendo 64, this game didn’t have the largest variety of Dinosaur species. Just Velociraptors and one Tyrannosaurus Rex with the odd Pterosaur tossed in.
Still it more than made up for it with its engaging and somewhat unusual premise. The game took place in a bizarre fantasy land called simply The Lost Land, that mixed various time periods together. For instance the penultimate boss is a Tyrannosaurus Rex who has been cybernetically enhanced.
He has a robot laser eye and can breath fire!
The game spawned an entire franchise beyond even just video games with the character of Turok even gaining his own short lived comic book series too. In some ways Turok works better as a fantasy game rather than a Dinosaur one. Still it was a very engaging and exciting game all around.
9/ Dino D-Day
As crazy as its title would suggest, this 2011 game is set in an alternate universe where Hitler cloned Dinosaurs during World War 2.
Its true that its graphics are somewhat sub par for the time it was released, but I think it more than makes up for it with its wild premise as well as the large variety of Dinosaur species too. Everything from the classics like Tyrannosaurus to obscure creatures like Protoceratops.
I always like it when people merge two genre’s that you’d never think of putting together. Dinosaur and World War 2 games? Yet it worked and managed to bring something new to both genres.
In this respect the game kind of reminded me of the Ray Harryhausen classic Gwangi which similarly managed to blend the unlikely duo of Dinosaur movies and Westerns to great effect too.
8/ Jurassic Park: The Game
Released for several platforms in 2011, this Telltale game would prove to be somewhat polarising in a number of ways.
Still I must admit whilst it wasn’t perfect I did think it was still probably one of the better Jurassic Park games.
It had an original story, that actually served as a direct sequel to the original game (though it would later be contradicted by Jurassic World). The Dinosaurs are also every bit as scary as their film counterparts and the deaths are really quite gory and explicit.
In fact to be honest I’d say that was the best thing about the game was how creative the ways both the supporting characters as well as the main character were killed by the Dinosaurs.
This was actually an advantage that the games had over the films, as often the deaths in the movies were a little bit more straight forward. I feel the makers of the game had a little more fun with their dinosaurs.
7/ Peter Jackson’s King Kong The Official Game of the Movie
An all around excellent game. It follows the same basic plot as Jackson’s equally brilliant film version, but it obviously expands on the story too.
You get to play as both Kong and the main human protagonist, Jack Driscoll at different points throughout the game. As Kong its brilliant to fight head on often with multiple Vastatosaurus Rex’s (fearsome descendants of the Tyrannosaurus Rex) but my two favourite parts of the game are as Driscoll.
One is when a V-Rex knocks Kong off the edge of a cliff and you have to rescue Ann from it as Jack. Its one of the most intense moments in any game trying to hold off a V-Rex inside tiny little ruins with only a piece of bone!
The other is when the V-Rex again corners you and you have to summon Kong himself. You really feel all 4 of the main characters terror as the Rex relentlessly smashes down the walls of the rotten fortress they are trapped in.
I found the setting of this game effective too. Skull Island is a truly horrifying place, filled with rotting bodies, crumbling ruins of a once great civilisation and hideous monsters lurking round every corner.
Its a fitting setting for Kong as it just adds to the tragedy of his character that in many respects he has never fit in anywhere as the place he is taken from is so heinous.
Overall a very effective and exciting game.
6/ Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis
One of the best Jurassic Park games, this was not an adventure game, rather a platform building one. The player’s task was to create a version of Jurassic Park that would gain a 5 star approval rating.
Of course there are many obstacles to your goal, with the flesh eating Dinosaurs ironically in some ways being the least of your troubles. Tornado’s strike the island, your dinosaurs get sick, you run out of money and go bankrupt etc.
The game probably has the largest collection of different species of Dinosaurs of any Jurassic Park title, though sadly you can’t use them all. Still overall this was a brilliant game as it treated the Dinosaurs like real animals rather than as unstoppable monsters.
In this respect it really captured the spirit of the original Jurassic Park movie better than any other game in the series.
5/ The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Based on the film and book of the same name, this game however doesn’t really have a story. You just play as 5 different characters through a series of levels.
The reason I rank it so highly is because you get to play as both a Velociraptor and a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
I loved the T-Rex levels so much. Though they could get a bit samey, it was still brilliant being able to kill hundreds of Raptors and human soldiers. It was quite explicit when you killed people as either the Rex or the Raptor. Your human victims would scream for mercy as you tore into them with your claws as the Raptor, whilst as the Rex you’d hear both your Raptor and human victims scream in agony and their bones snap as you crushed them to a pulp in your jaws.
The levels as the other characters, a Compsognathus, a human soldier, and Sarah Harding are still enjoyable, but nothing can quite match playing as the T-Rex. Still it is brilliant the way the game allows you to explore this vastly different world from so many different perspectives, from the Compy that’s no bigger than a Chicken, to the humans who don’t belong in the Lost World, to the absolute king of all the Dinosaurs, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
4/ Yoshi’s Island
Again in some respects more of a fantasy game, still as Yoshi is technically a Dinosaur then I’m going to list it.
Yoshi’s island is a prequel to the Mario series. It sees the evil Kamek attempt to kidnap two babies Mario and Luigi (both of whom are foretold to stop King Koopa, AKA Bowser in the future)
Though he is successful in capturing Luigi, Kamek ultimately fails to capture Mario who falls lands on Yoshi’s island, where all the Yoshi’s decide to band together to protect baby Mario from Kamek and his minions, rescue Luigi, and finally bring the boys to their parents.
Yoshi’s island is an absolute classic. Visually its absolutely stunning with all the levels being unique and beautiful in their own way. There is also a wide variety of monsters too, made up of plenty of old classic Mario foes, and plenty of new ones.
Its always fun to play as Yoshi and this game really helped to establish a lot of his most iconic traits such as his ability to turn his enemies into eggs and his crazy flutter jump.
When you think about it, Yoshi really is an unstoppable killing machine! He kills his enemies by eating them alive, and he can eat just about anything, but on top of that he can also turn the people he kills into weapons too!
Don’t be fooled by his cute appearance, Yoshi is one of the most dangerous Dinosaurs in any work of fiction and that’s what makes him so fun to play.
3/ Dino Crisis
One of the ultimate horror survival games. Dino Crisis was made by the creators of Resident Evil. Indeed at the time many critics dismissed it as being just a rehash of Resident Evil, with the Raptors standing in for the Zombies and the T-Rex standing in for the Tyrant.
The premise was also somewhat similar in that both revolve around a team going to investigate a remote area where an experiment has gone wrong, leading to monsters overrunning the place. In Resident Evil’s case it is because of an outbreak of the T-Virus that turns people and animals in Zombie like mutants, in Dino Crisis’ it is because of Doctor Kirk’s third energy experiment which creates a rip in the time vortex and allows Dinosaurs to emerge into modern day. The main characters in both games is also the only female member of the team, Jill Valentine in Resident Evil, Regina in Dino Crisis.
Finally both sequels see the government get hold of the secrets of the experiment (Kirk’s third energy program, the T-Virus sample) which later thanks to their recklessness results in it getting loose in a big city. Raccoon City in Resident Evil’s case which is overrun with Zombies and eventually nuked, and Edward City in Dino Crisis which is eventually destroyed by Velociraptors.
Still whilst it can’t be denied that it did reuse a lot of the same game mechanics and tropes as its more famous predecessor, overall Dino Crisis managed to stamp out its own identity.
The Raptors were different to the Zombies in that they were a lot faster, more intelligent and could leap out of seemingly nowhere at the player without warning. Also the Tyrannosaurus was far bigger and much more terrifying than anything in the Resident Evil series too.
Also I personally though Regina was a lot better than Jill Valentine. Jill was always a bit too wet and mopey for me. Regina however was far more badass, and snarky. No scene demonstrates that better for me than when the Tyrannosaurus first smashes its way through a window and corners Regina in a tiny little room and she just responds with “you’ve got to be kidding me!”
I think its a shame that Regina is not more famous. The dry, fearless T-Rex and Raptor slayer definitely desevres more respect in my opinion.
I’d love to see a Dino Crisis film with Famke Janssen as Regina.
She’d be so perfect for the role its not true!
Dino Crisis is not without its faults. Like some of the Resident Evil games its a bit slow and it also doesn’t have the greatest variety of Dinosaurs. Still overall its a brilliant game that still holds up thanks to its atmospheric and engaging story.
2/ ARK Survival Evolved
One of the most recent Dinosaur games for the PS4 and X Box One. This game doesn’t have a story. Instead you simply have to train Dinosaurs in order to survive. The game has probably the largest selection of Dinosaurs of any game. Everybody’s favourites are here, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Spinosaurus, Giganotosaurus Allosaurus etc.
I do miss the lack of a story like the Dino Crisis games, but ultimately I can’t rate it as anything but a classic due to the sheer amount of Dinosaurs you get to train as well as the detailed lost world the player can inhabit.
1/ Dino Crisis 2
An oldie but a goodie, Dino Crisis 2 may look a bit primitive by today’s standards but for me its still the best Dinosaur game for a number of reasons.
To start with it has a great selection of Dinosaurs, also its fast paced (rectifying the problems of the first game.) However its story and setting is really what elevate it.
I love running through the crumbling ruins of old cities and military bases (always littered with mutilated bodies) that the Dinosaurs have overrun, finding out how the humans were eventually overcome. And then there is the twist that it was not by Dinosaurs, but a mysterious group of Helmet wearing women from the future.
Trust me it actually makes sense. One of the Helmet women, Paul I always found to be quite unnerving. It was the way she was so child like, yet still somewhat intelligent in other ways. She couldn’t speak and would act like a helpless child, yet was smart enough to use a gun, work a computer etc. You were left to wonder how much of the young woman she once was is left in there.
Dino Crisis 2 much like the first game would make a great movie. Hopefully one day it will get the recognition it deserves.
Thanks for reading.