Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues (SNES) Review

The Short


Pros

– Unofficial sequel to the movie (of all things) where you shoot dinos

– Lots of weapon choices, from lethal to non-lethal

– Game plays a bit like Contra with dinosaurs, so I can dig it

– Lots of stages and missions to choose from

– Can be played two player

Cons

– Two players actually makes the game harder

– Actually, in general this game is pretty tough, even on Easy

– Shooting dinosaurs is not really as fun as you think

– Lots of stages have bad directions and are difficulty to navigate

– Why are a good portion of the stages about shooting people? I just wanna shoot dinos!

– Music, while atmospheric, is repetitive

Life finds a way. To make game sequels to movies.

The Long

I loved this game as a kid. We didn’t have an SNES growing up, but our dentist did. All he had in his office was Super R-Type, Super Mario World, and Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues. Considering my brother and I was totally dino-myte about dinosaurs, we loved going to the dentist if only because we got to play Jurassic Park 2. We never got anywhere in the game (we were completely awful at it), but hey, good memories.

So when I picked up a cart a few weeks ago and decided to see how the game had aged well, I had pretty high expectations. And while I’ll say a few of them were met, even more were…not. Unfortunately.

You have six missions to start with, and more unlock if you beat them.

There is no backstory to this game unless you leave it on the title screen long enough, then an awful looking cinematic plays explaining what is going on. Apparently a corporation is trying to stage a hostile take-over of InGen (the company that made dinos in Jurassic Park) and is sending dudes to the original island to…do something. I have no idea.

I still love how nobody seems to tell these people that they are going to an island full of freaking dinosaurs. It like blew everybody’s minds in the Lost World movie (that or they were stupid and didn’t bring guns), and the same is here: you get a shocked army guy who flips when he sees his first dino. Does anybody debrief these guys? It would have been nice to let them know.

You’ve got your spitting Dilopho…Dilafo…Spittersaurus.

Anyway, you play as white guy in body armor (or black guy in body armor, if you are playing two player) and your goal is to kick dino butt. Well, some of the time. Of the six starter missions, four involve killing dinosaurs, and two involve killing guys. Yeah, like regular other people with guns, Contra style. Ok?

It doesn’t matter; what matters is there are dinosaurs, and you are here to shoot them. The game has pretty simple controls: hold a button to shoot, press another to jump, and lastly you have this useless “dodge” move that I never got to work (your dude just sort of strikes a pose and…that’s it). So your best bet is jumpin’ and shootin’ (hey, like Mega Man!) while progressing forward.

I bet there aren’t any dinosaurs in that bunker. Nope. Not-a-one.

While shooting dinosaurs is great and all, the poor level design and enemy AI quickly brings the experience down. Let’s do level design first.

One of the main issues with Jurassic Park 2 is that, despite having six unique missions, most look really similar. Four of the six above start with you in the same stupid jungle, with the same music and same looking trees with foreground mist. Bland.

Luckily they tend to shake things up, or at least High Petra does. That one is a vertical based level, jumping up the side of a mountain while blasting pterodactylus and avoiding rocks. The rest (Raptor Attack, T-Rex Carnage, and Seek and Destroy) all follow a same pattern: wander around, find an area you can press “up” to go to a new area, and get lost. The only difference between the first two and Seek and Destroy is in Seek and Destroy you do it in a volcano. Which actually looks pretty cool, if it isn’t extremely easy to get lost.

Expect to see a lot of this.

It’s hard to figure out where you are going based on the little passageways, and some are downright hidden. When I first played Raptor Attack I thought the level had ended when I hit the far right side, when in fact I was supposed to press Up next to a little passage (the foreground bushes had, brilliantly, been placed to cover the arrow telling me that). As stated before, in many other missions (but especially Seek and Destroy), it’s easy to lose your bearings and get lost.

But hey, it’s better than stupid Protect the Gallimimus, which is the worst level ever. Just run right and shoot guys with the mediocre shooting. That’s the whole level. It’s like Contra but not as good.

Hold on to your butts.

The other main issue is the enemies. There’s only a handful of dinos throughout. You have little crawly guys you have to duck to shoot, flying obnoxious guys that go down easy but are the typical “flying bird” enemy from games we all hate, and the spitters as seen above (they just stand still). But the absolute worst are the raptors. They run at you, pounce, then turn around and do it again. Added bonus that if they hit you, you fall flat on your back, and it takes a second for your guy to get back up annoying.

What makes it funny, however, is your character can actually jump higher than the raptor. So it turns into a strategy of you leaping over the dinosaur before it pounces, blasting it mid-air (serious Devil May Cry vibes), before turning to repeat. You can get it in an easy enough pattern to take most of them down, assuming you aren’t playing two-player and messing up the repetitive cycle.

That’s some quality cutscenes.

And you’ll need to master this, because Jurassic Park 2 is hard. You only have one life (but thankfully a health bar), and once it’s gone you start the mission completely over. Missions aren’t particularly long (15-20 minutes at most), but with limited health and ammo drops you might find yourself getting stomped quickly.

This is absolutely exacerbated in any level fighting other guys. While dinos at least have to melee you to hit you, people have guns and are extremely obnoxious. Bullets are just not slow enough to dodge (unlike Sunset Riders, where all their bullets were trapped in the Matrix), meaning lots of cheap hits. These are by far the most frustrating levels.

Jumpin’ over dinos.

I’ve really ripped into this game from a gameplay standpoint, so I’d like to backpedal a bit: I still think Jurassic Park 2 is pretty fun. Is it fair? No. Is it actually easier single player? Well…mostly, yes. At least against raptors. Does it recycle a lot of assets between missions? Absolutely. But despite all this, Jurassic Park 2 is still a fun game. For all my Contra comparisons, this game is actually way different. While Contra is a balls hard arcade shooter where you blitz through a level as fast as possible, Jurassic Park 2 is about taking things slow, conserving ammo, and outwitting your enemies. It’s almost the game’s polar opposite, to be honest, and you’ll have to act like you would if you were actually stuck on a park with a bunch of pissed off extinct creatures (and dudes with guns). Because of that slower, more cautious pace, it’s almost like a horror game. Almost.

There is no way this is going to end well for anybody involved.

Graphically, Jurassic Park 2 looks a bit muddy. While it does quite well layering it’s backgrounds of forests and trees, as well as adding foreground bushes and fog, the whole thing sort of looks like I’m squinting at it the whole time. Still, it’s passable, and the dinosaurs look good. Environments aside from the forest are decent, though they seem to be just missing that final “punch” to make them look awesome. I love the way the volcano looks, though.

Musically there’s really only one or two songs, though they do well with the environment to set the mood. Hey, it’s no Super Metroid, but it tried at least. My favorite song is the ominous “DOOM DOOM DOOM” note that plays whenever you fail a mission and is unskippable. I swear that five note cycle will be stuck in my brain forever.

You’re gonna hear this song a lot.

I may be rose-tint nostalgiaing the hell out of this game, but despite all my complaints I still recommend checking it out. It’s hard, cheap, and doesn’t really do any of it’s parts exceptionally, but aside from that Jurassic Park 2 is still a solid game, if an under-ambitious one. It certainly is better than 90% of the other Jurassic Park games that were released, and as an action game where you shoot dinosaurs it is absolutely serviceable.

Plus if you get a friend and the two of you are determined to beat it, there might be some challenging fun to be have. Just…play the game on Easy. Trust me. It’ll save a lot of frustration.

Three out of five stars. 

Author: Nathan Major

Spirit Shark: Hammerhead. Retro game collector, true ginger, and SNES fanatic. Goal in life is to become Karnov from the NES game Karnov.

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *