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Jurassic Park III: Park Builder (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Jurassic Park III: Park Builder (Game Boy Advance) review


"Have you ever had the notion to create Jurassic Park? A place where there's adventure, excitement, and the chance for innocent civilians to be gobbled up by ancient reptiles. Surely, the anticipation of seeing extinct, rarely viewed prehistoric monstrosities coming back to life is of some interest. I'd be willing to pay to watch a Tyrannosaurus stalk its prey and maliciously feast upon their guts like they were Kibbles 'n' Bits. Well with the help of Konami, there's a park management sim for all..."



Have you ever had the notion to create Jurassic Park? A place where there's adventure, excitement, and the chance for innocent civilians to be gobbled up by ancient reptiles. Surely, the anticipation of seeing extinct, rarely viewed prehistoric monstrosities coming back to life is of some interest. I'd be willing to pay to watch a Tyrannosaurus stalk its prey and maliciously feast upon their guts like they were Kibbles 'n' Bits. Well with the help of Konami, there's a park management sim for all the archaic at heart. Its name is Jurassic Park 3: Park Builder and it came roaring onto the Gameboy Advance back in 2001.

Ok, maybe it made more of a thud as it hit the bottom of bargain bins around the world but Park Builder still packs some decent micromanagement mayhem into that little plastic cartridge. By far the largest surprise is the interface. The entire menu system is mapped to the shoulder buttons, leaving the A and B buttons for canceling and accepting actions. The L-trigger is responsible for the business side of the game and the R-trigger sends the player into the construction mode. In addition, cute little pictures can be seen representing the menu options replacing the old, cryptic icons of console simulation past. Gone are the frustrations of sporadically pressing random buttons in hope to simply build something.

And if that wasn't enough, Park Builder includes complexity in the form of dinosaur management. It sounds odd but let me put it into perspective. Say there are two dinosaurs that need to be placed into the park. They could just be slapped into some old pin together but this will ultimately lead to conflict. For starters, one or both of them could be extremely aggressive causing constant fighting or worse yet they could rip each otherís heads off. As entertaining as that idea may be it's not going to be very cost effective. Then again buying a brand new pin may not be worth it either. Compatibility is the key to getting around this issue. To achieve this goal, a selection of many dinosaurs will be wanted. Thus brings me to the collection of ambers, easily the most rewarding area of the game. Every month an excavation crew can be sent out to eight different parts of the world each with their own distinct class of species. After a period of one, two, or three months, the diggers will come back with some shiny new ambers, which contains some the much needed dinosaur DNA. On paper this may sound dull but when you happen upon a rarity like the Tyrannosaurus you'll be as pleased as a child molester in a day-care. Collecting the remaining 140 some odd DNA strands is also an entertaining adventure most similar to the "Gotta Catch'em All" phase we all went through with Pokemon.

Unfortunately, the game goes downhill from here. One solitary map will be the source for every created park. Thereís no random land generator, no landscape varying, and the player canít even position lakes on the map for water attractions. Once managing dinosaurs is no longer an issue, constructing a thriving park is a snap. Build some holding pins, place roads around them, buy an advertisement and, voilà, instant success. As a side note, walking paths are available to be made so tourists can roam around freely and grab a bite to eat. Sounds enticing until itís found out that the visitors strangely canít view the attractions from these trails. Walkways are rendered almost completely useless. In fact, I would suggest avoiding the whole path idea all together because then the busing system has to be dealt with. The drivers rarely pick up passengers from the rest stop to take them out of the park. If the buses donít leave, no new visitors will be brought in and money wonít be made.

Then there are those features other business management simulations have that fans of the genre come to expect. To begin with, no scenarios are included. A park must be started from scratch every time. Have you run out of money? Donít even think about getting a loan because there are none. Park building is also halted after twenty years with no option to continue. Lastly, dinosaurs can be named but ironically not the buildings. Better be good at Simon because youíre going to need to memorize every structure youíve built.

Amongst all these disappointments, the fun could have still been brought back by the expansion of one feature, hazards. Remember the fantasy about T-Rex chomping down helpless guests? Well quit dreaming because itís not happening. After they escape they merely disappear into thin air. Hard to image losing a fifty foot tall Brontosaurus on an island but evidently itís whatíll occur. Dinosaurs will die, be eaten, and even fight but nothing is visually presented except some melodramatic text explaining just that. Of course, our reptilian friends are only little one-color blimps on the screen so, on second thought, it probably wouldnít even have been too interesting to watch them attack one another either.

Iíll admit Iím comparing this title to many triple-A quality simulations. However, if a game is no better then any of the ďtycoonĒ rip-offs that plague the PC then why should anyone bother playing it? This is exactly the category Jurassic Park 3: Park Builder fits under. Sure, thereís a few interesting aspects such as DNA collecting and not to mention itís one of the few manageable interfaces Iíve seen on a console or handheld. But in the end, this game only fills you with false dreams and gameplay that has already been done before. Remember the magic of Sim City? If only Godzilla could have been sent to unleash hell upon the touristsÖ

Rating: 5/10

evilpoptart937's avatar
Community review by evilpoptart937 (October 07, 2005)

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