Jurassic Park

  • Developer: Electronic Arts
  • Genre: Arcade/Action
  • Originally on: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
  • Runs on PC, Windows
  • Editor Rating:
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This summer, Sega will change the way you think about dinosaurs with a new Genesis title that is as big and bad as a Tyrannosaurus Rex and as fast and cunning as a Velociraptor. A game that is loaded with more action and thrills than you'll ever find at an amusement park. It's Jurassic Park by Sega. Based on the upcoming Jurassic Park, a film by Steven Spielberg, this is a game that has been 65 million years in the making. Dinosaurs are among us once again! And you just might learn why they ruled the Earth for millions of years.

Creating Jurassic Park was no small feat. Sega's game designers incorporated the ultra-latest technology to give the game a look and feel that approaches animation quality, including stop-motion modeling done with dinosaur models similar to the ones used in the movie (see The Making of Jurassic Park elsewhere in this issue). A digitized soundtrack and sound effects round out Jurassic Park as a game like no other.

Make no dinosaur bones about it. It's awesome. Jurassic Park pits man against dinosaur, and dinosaur against man. Play either as Dr. Grant—in a mission to rescue people trapped in the Visitor Center—or as a Velociraptor dinosaur in a quest to escape Jurassic Park. Because your adversaries display artificial dinosaur intelligence (ADI), they respond differently with every action you make, every time you play There are few patterns and little predictability. You don't always know when a dinosaur or guard is going to appear or what they are going to do. Every time you play Jurassic Park, you'll face a new game. The Raptor that chewed you up before, may now just sniff you and move on. Maybe. Whether you choose to fight for Raptor freedom or to free the humans from the Visitor Center, Jurassic Park is big, fast and full of challenges.

Playing as Dr. Grant

If you choose the human-player game, you control Dr. Grant in a 13-stage mission to rescue the people trapped inside the Visitor Center. The key to beating the game is to concentrate on getting to the Visitor Center, not on wasting dinosaurs. In fact, you can't. The items you'll find will shock, stun or put to sleep the many different dinosaurs you encounter. Stick around too long and they will wake up, most likely with a less favorable attitude toward you!

The first round is the Jungle, where your jeep has just crashed. After you get up from the ground, take a closer look at the jeep.

There are tranquilizer darts by the windshield. Reach them by pressing Down on the D-Button to crouch, then walk to the darts. You'll find other items at various points throughout the game. Items include Stun Guns, Gas Grenades, Super Darts and Flash Grenades.

Although there are seven main types of dinosaur in the Park, the three you have to worry about most are Tyrannosaurus Rex, Spit-ters and Raptors. T-Rex is big, mean and hungry Spitters "spit" green venom with uncanny accuracy And Raptors are unique.

They are fast, highly intelligent and the most dangerous adversaries you will face.

The Triceratops is the first dino you encounter. You can get past him il you are fast on your feet.

Hold down the Jump Button when you leap for ledges, to hang and pull yourself up.

Pterodactyls move in quickly. Listen for the sound of their wings for a split-second warning, then try to jump Up to avoid taking a hit.

Raptors are bigger, meaner and powerful. Compys are small and run in packs.

Add these Tranquilizer Darts to your inventory before you do anything else.

Crouch and Push boxes and other objects to gain access to areas you normally could not reach.

You can climb vertical poles, vines and ladders to reach horizontal surfaces for hand-over-hand travel.

First Aid boxes will recharge Grant's life meter.

Electric shock is a constant danger in the Power Station level. Try to time the discharges and Jump for it!

Always be aware of places to hide. The Raptor can't reach you when you are in the Power Station's sub-level shafts. But you can still use items on him.

Spitters can hurt you from long range with their poisonous, green, globlike spit. Four zaps with a Stun Gun will stun them tor a short time.

If the Compys gang up on you, try pressing Left and Right rapidly on the D-Button to shake them off.

Search the River Level carefully. You'll find a lot of items here, including gas for your river boat.

Jungle vines are a handy way to travel across chasms and other hazardous obstacles.

Stun Gun

The Stun Gun gives dinosaurs a shock, stunning them for a few seconds.

Tranquilizer Darts

A few direct hits will send most dinos into slumherland.

Super Darts

Good night to even the largest behemoths.

Gas Grenades

Good for putting a snooze on groups of smaller dinos, like Compys.

Flash Grenades

Make a big bang and flash, stunning dinosaurs momentarly.Move fast!

Dr. Grant's Control Pattern

D-Button moves Grant around.

Press Down to make Grant crouch.

Pressing Up or Down allows you to see higher or lower on the screen.

Button A to jump,fire, or select items.

Button B to jump,fire, or select items.

Button C to jump,fire, or select items.

Select button configuration in the Option mode.

Raptor's Control Pattern

D-Button moves the Raptor around.

Press D-Button Down to make the Raptor crouch.

Button A for a Claw Slash.

Button A + D-Button for a kicking attack.

Button B to jump.

Button C to bite.

Button C + Left or Right to shake.

Playing as a Raptor

If you decide to play Jurassic Park . as a Raptor, you put a whole new focus on your gaming experience. Your object now is not rescue, but escape. You are a Raptor; the most intelligent, mobile dinosaur in Jurassic Park. You are trapped in a holding cage. lightning frees you. Now you must battle Park Guards and other obstacles as you make it through 13 levels of Jurassic Park to a ship that will cany you to the mainland.

In the Raptor game humans are your main adversaries. Since you are a dinosaur, you cannot use the items humans use against you. You have to follow a whole different train of thought and use the strengths of your powerful reptilian body

What are the advantages of being a Raptor? You can move fast. Very fast. You have long, powerful legs that allow you to jump to high places, and strong claws to grasp or tear at your adversaries. You are also very mobile. And while you can't use human items, you can move blocks, boxes and other objects to allow you access to different areas of the game. Playing as a Raptor allows you to experience what it is like to be a life form that has not walked the earth for 65 million years. We think it will drive you wild.

The Making Of Jurassic Park

Imagine a man-made natural reserve inhere dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes roam, living as they did BS million years ago. The rapfors. fasr and infelligenf ujifh razor-sharp claius. sfalHing through fhe jungle, and pouncing on fheir unfortunate prey with unbelievable speed. The fricerafops peacefully grazing in fhe undergrowth. find fhe Tyrannosaurus Rex. fhe ultimate predator, standing SO feef fall and inifh a bad temper to match. This is Jurrassic Park.

In an unmarked office building about 15 miles from the San Diego Zoo, a team of dedicated artists, programmers and game designers is putting the finishing touches on a different kind of zoo, one that can exist only in the imagination. Blue Sky Software, the developers of Jurassic Park for the Genesis, have spent more than a year creating a world unlike any other, the ultimate natural reserve populated by creatures long extinct.

Such an immense undertaking can succeed only with dedication, teamwork and talent. Fortunately, Blue Sky has all three qualities in abundance. Over the course of the last 15 months; a core group of a dozen very talented individuals has been working together to bring Genesis owners the ultimate gaming experience a video game based on Steven Spielberg's blockbuster ' movie Jurassic Park.

Game Design

Just as a movie begins its life as a script, a video game begins with a design. In the case of Jurassic Park, game design was the combined effort of Jesse Taylor (the producer), Dana Christianson (the art director) and Doug TenNapel. After considering several possibilities, the design team setded on a classic side-scrolling game, in which Grant, the player's alter ego, has to advance through seven levels to reach the final goal and save the park. As we shall see a little later, what makes this side-scrolling game different is the amount of artificial intelligence (or "AI") that the programmers have given the prehistoric creatures. The Jurassic Park dinosaurs not only look lifelike, but they act as though they have minds of their own.

The Jurassic Team

You don't have to be a dinosaur fanatic to be a member of the Jurassic Park team, but it helps. Every member of the team has studied dinosaurs, has visited Natural History museums, and has read widely on the subject. They have even taken field trips to the San Diego Zoo, not in the hope that they would find real dinosaurs there, but to study how other animals are maintained in captivity.

Of the 12 people involved in this project, no less than nine are graphic artists and animators. The lead artist in the group, Doug TenNapel, has been a cartoonist and comic book artist for years. Among his credits is the Saturday morning cartoon show The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Doug, who stands about six feet eight inches and vaguely resembles a pterodactyl, is responsible for coordinating the entire graphic effort. When you realize that most of the effort in creating this game has gone into the graphics, you understand the importance of his role. Let's pay Doug and his team of artists a visit and take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this awesome game.

Character Animation

Once the game design was buttoned down, it was time to start animating Grant and all the creatures in the game. Because Grant is the central character, a lot of the effort went toward animating his movements. In fact, Grant has over 50 separate animation sequences, with different movements for walking, running, climbing, jumping, falling and so on.

Animating Grant was fairly straightforward. Team member Mark Dobratz was videotaped in front of a neutral background while he made all of Grant's movements. Selected frames of the videotape were then digitized and fed into a computer, where the graphic artists could manipulate the images further, compressing the data, modifying the colors and fine-tuning the movements. The result was a smooth animation sequence for each of the movements that Grant needs to make.

Digital Cloning

While it's relatively easy to create animation sequences of a person, creating animations of creatures that have been dead for more than 65 million years is a different kind of challenge. To understand how these long-extinct creatures moved, Doug and his team of animators consulted the same experts used by Steven Spielberg for the movie.

Each one of the prehistoric creatures used in the game had to be studied in detail, noting their size, shape, mass and anatomy. To make their task a little easier, the team made use of models similar to the ones used in the production of the movie. By using stop-motion photography (where the model is moved by a small increment and then photographed), the team was able to create animation sequences of all the prehistoric creatures used in the game.

Because the raptors are the central dinosaurs in the game, they have the greatest number of animation sequences, with 20 or more different movements. This is more than double the number of sequences for the other dinosaurs. The raptors have different sequences for walking, running, sneaking, attacking, biting, hissing and so on.

Cleaning Up

After creating the animation sequences, the small army of artists began cleaning up the individual images to make sure that the animations were smooth and glitch-free. This process involved bnnging each image into a computer paint program, then using special smoothing and blending techniques to make sure that the colors and the increments of movement were consistent. When all the animations were clean and smooth, they were ready to be placed onto the backgrounds.

A Little Background Information

While some of the artists were working on the animation sequences, the rest of the team were busy creating the backgrounds. Each level in the game has a different background, some of which extend to 20 or 30 Genesis screens.

Backgrounds are created with a computer paint program, and then compressed using a "tiling" technique. Tiling is a process which breaks an image down into a small number of tiles, which are then combined to recreate the original image. By using a smaller number of tiles over and over (and by flipping and rotating tiles), the background artists can fit bigger, more complicated backgrounds into a cartridge. (At 16 megs Jurassic Park is one of the biggest carts ever produced by Sega. By using tiling and other compression techniques, the developers have been able to cram even more onto the cart.)

Music and Sound

The dimension of sound is as important to video games as it is to movies. It is even more critical for big action games like Jurassic Park, where the sound of a Stun Gun or the roar of a Tyrannosaurus can add depth and realism to the game play In addition, the sound of the jungle can provide subtle clues for the observant player—a creak in the undergrowth or the hiss of an agitated raptor can let the player know what might be coming down the road. These sound effects, together with Sam Powell's musical soundtrack, will help make Jurassic Park a phenomenal gaming experience.

Get with the Program

While the rest of the team is creating the animation sequences, the backgrounds, and the sound and music, the programmers have been busy creating the environment that will serve as the basis for the game. First, they have to create the "engine" for the game, the instruction set that defines the type of game (side-scrolling), the types of backgrounds and the kind of control available to he player. Once the basic game engine is established, the programmers set out to define the kind of behavior patterns available to the characters in the game. This is what is referred to as artificial intelligence, the characters' ability to exhibit lifelike behavior, giving them depth and dimension.

Unlike the characters in most video games, the enemies in Jurassic Park do not always follow predictable patterns, lor example, under some circumrtances, a raptor may do nothing more than sniff Grant before turning around and walking away; on other occasions, the same raptor might pounce and attack without hesitation. The actual response depends on various factors, such as the level in the game, the player's sophistication and ability, and the type of dinosaur. Because the raptors are the most complicated creatures in the game, they have almost a dozen factors affecting their responses. This makes them appear wily and cunning, since their behavior is not always easy to predict.

The other dinosaurs in the game also exhibit AI to some extent. Without AI, they would respond the same way under all circumstances, making their behavior flat and mechanical. What this means for the player is a game that is consistently challenging for all levels of playing ability.

Putting the Whole Thing Together

So far, we have seen how each game element is created: the animation sequences by digitizing live models or through the use of stop-motion photography, the backgrounds with a computer paint program and tiling techniques, the sound and music, and the programming. The next step is the combination of all these elements into a playable game. This process, which is a critical step in the creation of a well-balanced and challenging game, requires the combined efforts of the artists and the game designers.

As background artist Mark Lorenzen scrolls around the background of one of the levels, the game designers specify the placement of the dinosaurs and the other game elements at various points. Not only do they need to decide which of the dinosaurs should be placed at each critical spot, but they also have to decide which animation sequences to use.

For example, they might decide to place a raptor at a critical intersection, blocking Grant's path. Which of the 20 or so animation sequences they would use at that intersection depends on how Grant will need to act in that situation. One sequence might have the raptor turning toward Grant and hissing. This might be followed by the raptor rearing up to attack and then charging Grant at full speed. It would not be unusual to have six or more animation sequences at a critical point in the game, with each one tied to a specific action by Grant. Of course, the sequence that most gamers will want to see is the one of the raptor falling over, stunned by Grant's Stun Gun.

The Finishing Touches

As with any video game, the last few hectic weeks of the project are spent fine-tuning and polishing the game play, and eliminating "bugs," those insidious little software glitches that can cause unpredictable results. Sega's test group spends hundreds of man-hours playing the game and reporting any problems they find to the development team. Finally, after weeks of tuning and bug-squashing, the game is ready to be manufactured and shipped to the anxiously awaiting gamers all around the world.

Want to know more? Check out the exclusive review on page 14 of this issue.

System Requirements

PC compatible, SystemP-100

Systems:  Win9x Windows 9x, Windows 2000 WinXPWindows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.

Game features: Jurassic Park supports single modeSingle game mode

Jurassic Park Screenshots and Media

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