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Dino Rex (Arcade) artwork

Dino Rex (Arcade) review


"Dino Rex is a cruel king. It's uncompromising in difficulty and relentless in its quest to rip you apart. Make one mistake and your opponent is all over you, cheesing you with the most difficult moves and connecting with ease. It makes itself look so easy that you wonder what you're doing wrong. Even as your dino struggles to its feet, the game continues and eventually concludes its merciless onslaught with an unbreakable chain of attacks."



So there I was: about eleven or twelve, a big fan of Ray Harryhausen movies, and peering into the screen of Dino Rex. Beneath the "insert coin" prompt were two dinosaurs snarling, clawing, ripping at each other while mangy-haired cavemen cheered them on. Rather than the standard pixels or semi-photographic visuals a la Mortal Kombat, the two creatures moved like stop-animation maniacs straight out of One Million Years BC. What I saw was a glorious amalgamation of Street Fighter and old school adventure epics. This had to be a view past the pearly gates and into the green pastures, and yet no one was playing it. For shame! This promised to be the perfect arcade fighting experience, and definitely was until I dropped my first quarter.

The first round, against an Allosaurus apparently high on PCP, ended quickly. Anything I tried, from button-mashing to calculated maneuvers, was not enough. I thought it was me, that I sucked and the only answer was to drop more quarters and improve. Little did I know that anyone who plays Dino Rex sucks except for the computer.

Dino Rex screenshotDino Rex screenshot


The first hurdle you have to overcome is stiff and unresponsive play control. Large dinosaurs weren't exactly ninjas, and therefore didn't move with deadly grace. Even still, there isn't exactly a law forbidding developers from taking liberties in appropriate places. Every stilted jump and sluggish kick felt like your dino was mired in tar, and that was when the buttons actually responded. Having very few animations didn't help the game's cause, either. Jump over your opponent and see what happens. Instead of turning around and facing the opposite direction, both dinos slowly walk back to their respective corners and resume fighting.

Tossing a complicated control scheme into the mix makes for a terrible combo. Though you can succeed in executing basic attacks without trouble, the best techniques come from complex motions combined with timed button presses. However, most of these moves won't register properly, leaving you to retry repeatedly until you either get it right or watch your combatant become the other's supper.

Even should you accustom yourself to the clunky controls, there's the matter of hit detection. There were numerous times my T. Rex's jaws clamped shut on the other reptile's head or shoulder, and yet the game insisted it was a miss. Unless you're spot on with tail whips and kicks, you'll land very few blows and leave yourself wide open to the beating of a lifetime.

Dino Rex is a cruel king. It's uncompromising in difficulty and relentless in its quest to rip you apart. Make one mistake and your opponent is all over you, cheesing you with the most difficult moves and connecting with ease. It makes itself look so easy that you wonder what you're doing wrong. Even as your dino struggles to its feet, the game continues and eventually concludes its merciless onslaught with an unbreakable chain of attacks. The only skill that Dino Rex imparts unto you is cheapness. The only way to win is to mash buttons and pray that each hit connects, to corner your opponent whenever possible, and to show no quarter whatsoever. You mustn't miss a single beat.

Dino Rex screenshotDino Rex screenshot


Against powerful odds, I struggled uphill and eventually defeated the Allosaurus. My reward was a silly bonus stage in which your creature teleports to the future and pounds downtown into the ground. It wasn't anything complicated or challenging. You walk to the right, running into vehicles and policemen, and break stride only to take out the occasional helicopter. It may sound like a nice break from the horrendous beatings, but it's really a huge bore.

After the bonus stage ended, I returned to the battlefield where the cheapness escalated beyond a reasonable level. I asked myself if I was having fun, then glared at my reflection in the glass and thought, What do you think? The spell that the graphical style had cast on me shattered. I felt offended as a Harryhausen fan that this was Taito's way of honoring him, with a clunky and next-to-impossible fighting game.

Let's put the fanboy rant aside. The real issue isn't Taito's blasphemy, but the utter lack of enjoyment. In the case of a joylessly difficult game, it can be hard to tell if your low rating comes as a result of your lack of skill or the game's inability to impress. There's a simple solution to that: ask yourself if you're entertained. If you're not enjoying a game, then it's not you. It's not because you're a terrible player and need to spend more time playing to practice. It means there's something about the game that forbids your enjoyment. No matter what connection or sense of duty you feel, if you're not enjoying it, then let go.

Rating: 2/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (February 27, 2012)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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qxz posted February 27, 2012:

Yeah, I've never actually played Dino Rex, but having seen footage of it on YouTube, I never want any part of it. I'll stick with Primal Rage if I want to see hot, bloody dinosaur-on-dinosaur action.

Speaking of which, Joe, are you familiar with Primal Rage in any way?

(Quick proofreading note: "The first hurtle you have to overcome.." should be "The first hurdle you have to overcome...")
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 27, 2012:

Thanks, qxz!

Yeah, I've played me some Primal Rage, both SNES and arcade. Didn't like the SNES version, but totally dug the arcade.
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bloomer posted February 27, 2012:

Oh darn it, I think the game I remembered is Primal Rage now that I look at its screenshots. I'm still having cache problems with the comments on this site and I didn't see the other comments til after clicking around.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 27, 2012:

The two are pretty similar, except Primal Rage did the concept justice. interesting tidbit: Dino Rex actually predates PR by about a year.

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