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Prehistorik (DOS)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.5
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Written by  :  Roedie (5226)
Written on  :  Nov 30, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars

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Summary

Colourful post-mario platformer with several fun reducing features

The Good

In the late eighties and early nineties the success of a certain Italian plumber led to a massive amount of 2D side-scrolling platform games. Prehistorik is one of those games. While I wouldn't go as far as to call Prehistorik a Mario-clone, it does have the same light-hearted atmosphere. Instead of pipes that lead to underground sub-levels there are caves that contain bonus items and food. In each of the four regular levels you need to fill your food bar or you can't progress to the next level (a boss battle) when you've reached the end of a level. You fill up the food bar by collecting food that just lies around and by eating the dinosaurs, bears and other animals you knock out with your club. The best thing about Prehistorik are the clean comic-book style graphics. The are very colourful and slightly humorous, especially the animations of your character and his enemies. The backgrounds are good too and the levels are generally nice to look at. The level design is more than decent and the caves add a sort of second layer to the levels that makes them more interesting. Unfortunately there aren't too many secrets and there are no puzzles to solve. However there's usually enough action to avoid boredom. The boss battles (levels 2, 4 and 6) deserve their place in the good section because of their bizarre nature (for an example see the screenshots).

The Bad

Playing Prehistorik was not something I enjoyed. It's your standard platform game with floating platforms, fireballs and disappearing columns you need to jump on etc. but the gameplay annoying and frustrating. The game has only 7 stages but 3 of them are actually boss battles. To compensate for its shortness the developers made the game rather difficult:
  • The game requires a lot of memorizing; you need to know where the power-up distributing shaman will appear (cause he's only visible for a few seconds, not enough to reach him by just reacting quickly. He always seems to disappear right before your nose). Some times caves transport you all the way back to the beginning of a level. Great fun when there's a time limit. Moreover because of the time limit you can't explore every cave, you'll need to remember which caves contain power-ups.
  • You don't bring the power-ups & weapons (well in fact there's only one other weapon besides your standard club; an axe of stone) you've collected with you to the next level. You also lose all your power-ups when you lose a life.
  • There are no passwords and you can never save your game. Also, there's a time limit for every level.
  • The range of your club is way too short which makes perfect timing of attacks very important. It's frustrating to keep losing energy because of this. Moreover, some enemies throw projectiles at you, while you never get a ranged attack. Titus should have added some extra weapons for some extra variety.
  • By default (without the springs power-up) your character doesn't jump very high. At least not much higher than the height of the gazillion campfires you'll need to jump over during the game. Once again pixel perfect timing is required… another source of frustration.
  • The scrolling in Prehistorik is not smooth but very abrupt. When you're near the edge of the screen, a new screen is loaded at once. And of course there just happens to be an enemy near the edge of screen 2 that you couldn't see and cannot possibly avoid. Fun huh?
There’s a complete lack of sound effects. If I'm correct, every level does have it's own simplistic melody but releasing a game in 1991 without any sound effects is unacceptable. Also I thought the ending was disappointing, since there was no end boss. What's a game without a grand finale?

The Bottom Line

In the end this is just another platform game without any real surprises or special features or it should be the rather limited flight sections in which you pilot a hang-glider or a set of balloons. Keep walking from left to right until you reach the end of the level while collecting goodies and taking out enemies. I liked the look of Prehistorik but didn't like the gameplay. Some problems make the game unnecessary frustrating. The platform genre is definitely not my favourite genre and this game did little to change this. Also, I've yet to play a good game by Titus.