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Atari Gravitar
Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (43211)
Written on  :  Jan 16, 2023
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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A colorful platform game based on a cheesy teen movie

The Good

If you happen to live in the US, UK, or France in the Nineties, you would know about a teen movie called “Adventures in Dinosaur City” released in 1991. Three friends go into Timmy’s parents’ lab to watch an animated TV series known as ‘Dino Saurs’ on the big screen TV. Little did they know that the screen serves as a portal to another dimension. Intrigued, all of them jump in and find themselves in Saur City. The following year, the guys at Irem America saw how successful this cheesy teen movie was, and released the platform game of DinoCity for the SNES.

The game’s intro is consistent with what happens in the film, with the teens being sucked into the TV and being instructed to find the fuse if they want to go home. There are six stages in the game, and you can control two of the teens, Timmy or Jamie. Both of them are joined by Rex or Tops, depending on which of them you select. The stages consist of small areas, and you always do something interesting in these, including destroying some stones blocking your path, staying on a spinning wheel without being pushed off, and riding a car while changing tracks. A two-player game is also available, with each player taking turns.

The first couple of areas are easy and you should be able to complete them in about two minutes. Later ones, however, are difficult to get through. For a start, there are puzzles requiring Timmy or Jamie to dismount from their dinosaurs so they can clear any obstacles blocking their way. If something happens to the two and the dinos are left behind – and vice versa - you lose one of your lives. Getting hit by a Rocky or an obstacle results in you losing one heart. If no hearts are left, you also lose a life. You may be lucky to get a heart floating around somewhere. Scattered throughout the level are dino eggs; get fifty of these, and you earn an extra life. You also get eggs by jumping on a Rocky’s head about five times.

Each area ends by going through either a brown or gold door. The gold doors let you tackle each area in order, while the brown ones let you fast-forward through a specific area. Some brown doors lead you to bonus stages, where the object is to collect as many dino eggs as you can before time runs out. When you go through enough of these doors, you have to face a boss, which have their own attack pattern and take a few hits to kill. Once you defeat them, you will see your team going back and forth across the screen, giving you the opportunity to write down a 12-character password until you press Start.

DinoCity is a colorful game with gorgeous graphics, and the effects are well done; I like how the first area of stage one changes from day to night. Although you can admire the backdrops, there is a time limit which you must adhere to; if you let this run down, you will lose a life. (The sudden speed-up of the music serves as a warning.) The background music is excellent; I enjoyed listening to the marching theme when you complete each stage. If there is any music you love, you are free to access the sound test and play it again from there. The four characters are seen doing nothing, but when you play some music, having all of them bop to the beats is a nice touch.

The Bad

I found the game a bit difficult. One of the puzzles I talked about earlier mentioned hitting some stones blocking your path. This was frustrating considering that there is a Rocky behind you pushing a pillar, and if you don’t destroy all the stones in a reasonable amount of time, you are crushed to death. Also, it takes more than one punch for a Rocky to go down.

The Bottom Line

This is a colorful platform game featuring four characters from Brett Thompson’s movie. The sound and graphics are excellent, and throughout the game you can do many fascinating things. Although the game is aimed at teenagers, I feel the game is difficult, due to certain sections of the game requiring both time and patience. That aside, DinoCity is enjoyable, even if you haven’t seen Thompson’s film.

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