Digital Review

Jurassic Park Interactive

Remember ''synergy''? That's what's supposed to happen when the parent company of a software firm-like, for the sake of argument, MCA, which owns Universal Pictures- invests millions of dollars in a hardware system that's, say, one part video game, one part CD player, and one part personal computer. Imagine that MCA creates a subsidiary-''Universal Interactive Studios'' sounds about right-and commissions it to design a 3DO game based on Jurassic Park, the second-highest-grossing movie of all time. Surely that silvery disc would be one of the most wondrous things in the history of entertainment.

Well, wishful futurists, you can put your tongues back in your mouths, because all of the above events have in fact transpired. That's the good news. The bad news is the new CD game Jurassic Park Interactive (Universal Interactive Studios, 3DO) turns out to be one giant slab of prehistoric cheese. Yes, the technology is impressive: 3DO features live- action footage from the film as well as new shots of some characters (none played by actors from the movie). And the premise is sound: From your station in the Jurassic Park control room, you have to lead island guests and staff through three reptilian perils-mazes filled with vicious raptors, shooting galleries populated by spitters, and headlong drives in an Explorer away from pursuing Tyrannosaurus rex. The execution, however, is a disaster-a telling example of why synergy involves more than throwing disparate elements together.

Take that T. rex chase. As someone who has played dozens of video driving games, I can say with confidence that the vehicular sequences in Jurassic Park Interactive, with their clumsy controls and grainy visuals, are among the most inept I've seen. And while it's fun, for about 20 seconds, to see the image of a T. rex growing ever larger in your rearview mirror, in this case it only serves to remind you that you're getting very little beast and a whole lot of Explorer for your money. Which is not a bright choice for a game version of a movie whose appeal rests almost entirely on its special effects. The other sequences, sad to say, are also somewhat stingy, lizard-wise-and equally uninteresting to play.

Even so, there's some Jurassic hope. While the 3DO effort succeeds only in emulating the movie's utter superficiality, a few other versions do a better job of approximating the Jurassic experience. There's a Sega CD game (Sega) that moves at too leisurely a pace to satisfy action fans, though it has some admirable features, such as scholarly dissertations on various breeds of dinosaur. But the Genesis version (Sega), which lets you assume the role of a raptor, is a blast-and the little-noticed Super NES cartridge (Ocean of America) is truly innovative, combining overhead perspective and first-person action with a rocking soundtrack and lush graphics. Jurassic Park Interactive: D Sega CD: C Genesis: B+ Super NES: A-

Originally posted May 20, 1994 Published in issue #223 May 20, 1994 Order article reprints