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Jurassic Park: The Lost World (Arcade) artwork

Jurassic Park: The Lost World (Arcade) review


"I had a pleasant experience a little while ago: I was exploring a mall I’d never been to before, found an arcade, and located a running Jurassic Park: The Lost World machine. I hadn’t seen the light gun shooter since they removed it from the arcade near my own home years ago, and ever the victim of nostalgia, I decided to spend what I thought would be “just a few quarters” on it. Not only did I invest more time in the game than I’d anticipated, but I actually played alarmingly well, espec..."



I had a pleasant experience a little while ago: I was exploring a mall I’d never been to before, found an arcade, and located a running Jurassic Park: The Lost World machine. I hadn’t seen the light gun shooter since they removed it from the arcade near my own home years ago, and ever the victim of nostalgia, I decided to spend what I thought would be “just a few quarters” on it. Not only did I invest more time in the game than I’d anticipated, but I actually played alarmingly well, especially considering how challenging I remember the game being. It was as if I instinctively knew where and when to shoot, with the dead-on accuracy of a man reciting the lines of his favorite film. Strange thing was, I hadn’t played the game in at least five years.

There’s a simple answer to this, and it begins with a question: Are your childhood memories speckled with afternoons spent going to the mall, hanging out with friends, grabbing a slice of pizza and wasting a few bucks at the arcade? Mine are, and The Lost World was one of our most frequent excursions. The game encapsulates what I consider the ideal arcade experience: It’s just long enough to feel fulfilling, and just short enough that one can realistically set out to complete it in one sitting. It’s just challenging enough to remind you that no one’s invincible, but just forgiving enough to pull you back again and again, no matter how many tokens you’ve already dropped. It’s simple enough that you could be satisfied with a one-minute sampling, and complex enough that you could burn an entire afternoon on it.

I won’t insult you by explaining in great detail how the game works, except to say that it is very, very difficult. As someone who was raised on Time Crisis 2, it came as something of a shock that The Lost World has no cover pedal, meaning that you’re constantly exposed, and that the only way to avoid taking damage is to incapacitate your foes before they get the chance to attack you. If we were facing opponents with actual guns, this game would be devastatingly difficult, yet even against dinosaurs, this task is often easier said than done. The dilophosaurs, best known for spitting poisonous goop all over Wayne Knight’s face in the first Jurassic Park film, will happily do the same to you if you don’t gun them down first. The compys, famous themselves for devouring Peter Stormare in the sequel, are so tiny – and attack in such large numbers – that players are called upon to be both quick and accurate. It’s a grueling affair.

It’s difficult to say whether the developers of the Jurassic Park III arcade game set out to top the previous title, or whether it was considered a standalone project – let’s remember that The Lost World was never all that popular or well-known to begin with. It’s once again a light shooter, and it sports the kinds of improvements you’d expect in any sequel – better graphics, more variety in enemies, etc. You’d think it would be an improvement, in theory, but I’m sure you can already see where I’m going with this.

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what separates an exceptional light gun shooter from a run-of-the-mill one, so I recommend you play these two games in quick succession (if that’s even still possible) to get a feel for it. The Lost World is simple, frenetic, and consistently challenging, and much of its spirit was lost in the development of its successor. Jurassic Park III is easy. You’re given a rather generous health bar, and the camera pans and tracks slowly and methodically from one encounter to the next. The frantic, sweaty-palmed darting-eyeball nature of its predecessor was gone. What was found in its place? A leisurely little shooter that one could expect to finish, on his first try, in less than fifteen minutes with only a dollar or two wasted. Its only distinguishing characteristic is that it happens to feature dinosaurs.

I don’t spend enough time at the arcade to know whether The Lost World is a dying breed, or if there’s some awesome light gun shooter out there right now that could take its place. All I know is that it’s very difficult to come up with what The Lost World has, and it’s far easier to lose it, as its sequel demonstrated. If you ever happen to see a Lost World machine, spend a few bucks on it. Because you’d only see it in an arcade, and if you’re in an arcade, you’re looking for the ideal arcade experience. The Lost World has it, I guarantee you.

Rating: 9/10

Suskie's avatar
Community review by Suskie (December 30, 2009)

Mike Suskie is a freelance writer who has contributed to GamesRadar and has a blog. He can usually be found on Twitter at @MikeSuskie.

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Probester posted January 02, 2010:

Sweet review. I was totally relating to you when you mentioned being raised on Time Crisis 2, and the bit about spending tons of time at the arcade. I remember playing this game to death. I imagine the game looks pretty corny in this era now, huh?
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Suskie posted January 02, 2010:

Thanks a lot. Yeah, the game was made sometime in the late '90s, so it's got PSX-quality graphics. I'm not as bothered by that sort of thing as other people are, though, especially if it's a game I fondly remember loving when I was younger :)

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