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Jurassic Park Arcade (Arcade) artwork

Jurassic Park Arcade (Arcade) review

"Jurassic Park Arcade offers a spectacle-filled tour that likely won't outlast your supply of quarters. I approve."

Arcades may be all but dead, but the "all but" part of that sentiment is doing a lot of work these days and there are still noisy, dimly lit rooms where you can go to quickly divest yourself of handfuls of quarters. Besides the laundromat, I mean. If you are fortunate enough to have such an establishment conveniently available, you'll no doubt be pleased to discover that ambitious developers continue to make brand new experiences available, in spite of PC, console and mobile dominance within the entertainment space. One such developer is Raw Thrills, which in 2015 released a new arcade game based on the "Jurassic Park" franchise, simply titled Jurassic Park Arcade.

For a mere $14,000, amusement center entrepreneurs at the time could obtain a shiny new cabinet of their very own. From what I can tell, not much has changed; current online auction listings show the machine going for just under that price brand new, meaning it's still a bit of an investment for any but the independently wealthy. But if you happen across the machine in the local arcade, you might want to consider dropping a few dollars' worth of quarters to show your appreciation to those brave business owners who take the risk.

Jurassic Park Arcade features either three stages or nine, depending on how you want to classify such things. The goal is to capture three dinosaurs that are rampaging around an island environment, each with its own dedicated run that you can tackle in any order. A particular run is divided into three legs, with scores tallied on each leg of the journey. None of those segments are particularly lengthy, so it's possible to play through the entire game in probably about 15 minutes. Then the credits roll and you don't get any quarters back, no matter how recently you may have deposited them.

Jurassic Park Arcade (Arcade) image

At the local arcade where I played, the cost is $1.00 to get started, and $0.75 whenever you need to continue from there (provided you don't let the countdown timer expire). It seems to me like a fair enough pricing model, even though I naturally wouldn't mind spending less. Isn't that always the case, though?

Jurassic Park Arcade is a light gun game equipped with a large LCD screen and a bench seat for two players, who each have access to their own gun. They can swing the firmly attached equipment back and forth, up and down, and fire a steady stream of digital bullets by holding in the triggers, as if manning a turret. Buttons on the top deploy grenades, for those moments when you need to clear the screen of hazards such as attacking dinosaurs or shrapnel. If you hit a friendly target, such as another brave park ranger, you are in a world of hurt. If you fail to hit every target that appears in rapid succession during a QTE, you will sustain serious damage and it could be enough to end your run. An ounce of prevention is worth a butt load of cure, as the saying goes.

Though the game is coming up on five years old, it still looks and sounds very nice, with the dinosaurs sporting the sort of leathery hides and fearsome shrieks you might expect from proper "Jurassic Park" critters. According to the developer, there are more than 30 species of dinosaur represented. Many of those highlighted should be quite familiar to dinosaur lovers. There are included among that number a few birds with feathers, which will no doubt come as a relief to therapsid fans. There also are spiders, which should delight almost no one. Fortunately, they don't last long in a hail of bullets.

Jurassic Park Arcade (Arcade) image

For two players working as a team, the game can prove quite enjoyable. I played with a friend who loves both dinosaurs and light gun games, and he outperformed me on every single stage. I tended to focus mostly on just surviving by eliminating the worst threats and anything I saw sneaking along my edge of the screen, while he unerringly sought out virtually every power-up and frequently filled the screen with shotgun blasts, electrical voltage, rapid-fire bursts and even special rounds that froze enemies in place before another burst caused them to shatter like a plate thrown at a wall. Together, we did reasonably well. I suspect that most reasonably experienced duos will fare similarly, and probably need to continue maybe five or six times each over the course of the campaign.

With that said, the game can at times be rather unforgiving to newcomers. Most of the way through, the dinosaurs play fair and blasting them is a joy thanks to the dynamic environments and crazy action. In more cramped spaces, such as a cool refrigeration area that reminded me a bit of the famous scene in the first movie, threats have an easy time getting close before you notice them and then you might have to dip into your reserve of quarters a bit more liberally than is entirely enjoyable. A worse issue is the penalty for friendly fire, especially since you'll see a group of dinosaurs headed your way and start shooting, only for a lady on an ATV to speed in front of you and take a shot in the back. I hope you're not too attached to those quarters!

Jurassic Park Arcade (Arcade) image

Aside from a few checkpoints that do err on the side of cheap, the game is remarkably fair about the fun it lets players have in exchange for their quarters or tokens, without enabling excessively lengthy runs of the sort that I'm sure arcade owners hate. It feels like a carefully calculated compromise and I personally didn't feel robbed even though I spent something like $7 or $8 for not even a half-hour of entertainment. The experience felt just the way I've always liked an arcade outing to feel, but updated for the current millennium.

If you happen across Jurassic Park Arcade and you generally appreciate light gun games, dinosaurs or especially both of those things working in harmony, I do recommend giving it a chance. Your adventure might not last especially long and you may have to drop more quarters than you like to see it through to its conclusion, but the design is mostly solid and you'll likely conclude that you got your money's worth by the time you finish. Modern arcade machines ought to offer a spectacle-filled experience that you can't easily (or especially, more affordably) replicate at home, and Raw Thrills has provided here an outing that does precisely that.


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Staff review by Jason Venter (August 15, 2019)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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