The first Designasaurus game was released in 1988 for the Apple II, Amiga, Commodore 64 platforms. It was lauded as a pioneer in edutainment for being educational yet highly enjoyable to play and very original in concept. The basic idea behind Designasaurus is to create a dinosaur and then attempt to survive out in the wild.
Designasaurus II takes this same concept and expands on it with more gameplay possibilities and a storyline involving stolen DNA. To survive in the wild, one must explore, hunt, fight, scavenge, avoid environmental hazards and most of all avoid being eaten. In addition to this, players can also breed with another dinosaur of the same species, after which players must raise and defend their young. Designasaurus II takes place in the Mesozoic era, The "Age of Dinosaurs", which encompasses the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Paleontologists were consulted to ensure that the appearance of specific dinosaurs and plant species was appropriate for each time period. Climates for each period include desert; volcanic; oceanic; mountainous; plains; arctic; and varietal, which contains a bit of everything.
In the year 2501, The Designasaurus Research Foundation is attempting to recreate the Gigantodon species of dinosaur.
Unfortunately, the diabolical Dr.Max Von Fusion, renegade scientist, manages to steal all of the DNA geneprints. Dr.Max Von Fusion breaks the geneprint data into several pieces and teleports them back in time to various prehistoric periods. The only lead that players have to go on is a riddle detailing the scattered whereabouts of the Gigantodon's genetic information. It is now up to the player to utilize The Foundation's state-of-the-art equipment to design the ultimate dinosaur and save the day. Once players have created their dinosaur, they must send it back in time to retrieve all of the geneprints and return them to The Foundation.
Stage 1 - Create a dinosaur
Stage 1 consists of creating a dinosaur, though it is also possible to simply pick from a list of pre-made dinosaurs. When creating a dinosaur, players are given access to an assortment of dinosaur arms, tails, heads and bodies which can be used in any combination. The body parts you choose will affect the gameplay in stage 2 after you transport your dinosaur back in time. The player's choices will affect the speed, attack, defense and endurance of the dinosaur, as well as the type of food it will eat. If players choose the head of an herbivorous dinosaur, they will only be able to get nourishment from plants. It is possible to be omnivorous.
Stage 2 - Survive and find the geneprints
Once the dinosaur travels back in time, the main objective is to locate the geneprint data and then locate the teleporter to return to The Foundation. This can take a long time as locating a geneprint simply means scouring the entire map from top to bottom to find one. After players have found a geneprint, the even greater challenge of locating the teleporter becomes priority. The found DNA can be used to further modify the player's dinosaur with new parts.
The game world is littered with predatory dinosaurs and other hazards. The player may encounter lava flows, tar pits, and snow storms; all while contending with other dinosaurs for food, or lack-there-of. Upon killing another dinosaur, other dinosaurs might swarm to the carcass to retrieve the meat for themselves.
Survival is key; the player's dinosaur has four status meters: Health, Rest, Food, and Water. Ignoring these will lead to failure, though it is not possible to actually die. When the dinosaur is near death, it will be teleported back to The Foundation. In addition to finding food and water and fighting other dinosaurs it is also possible to breed with other dinosaurs of the same species. A successful mating will create a nest of eggs. If players defend the nest from predators, the eggs will eventually hatch, bearing baby dinosaur. These baby dinosaurs require players to find even more food and water to keep them alive. Lastly, as players traverse the unforgiving prehistoric landscape, they will be treated to occasional facts about dinosaurs. If players are able to survive long enough to collect all of the geneprints and transport them back to The Foundation, they will be rewarded with the title of Chief Scientist.