By sirdesmond 5 Comments
As early as the halcyon days of the Atari 2600 (and most likely even before that), dinosaurs have always been an important part of video games. Whether it is their appearance in 1983's Roc 'N Rope or as recent as 2011's seriously bad Dino D-Day, gamers have attempted time and time again to escape, destroy, or (in the case of Mario) befriend these fierce and noble creatures. Let's take a loot at some of their more notable appearances over the years.
Released only for arcades in 1992, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs was released and one of the greatest video game combinations of all time was born: dinosaurs and, unbelievably, Cadillacs. Based on the Final Fight game engine, the game pits a group of slick, cool, and ecologically-focused dudes (and dudettes) against an unholy swarm of nefarious humans looking to disrupt the new balance of life this world's post-apocalyptic landscape in which dinosaurs have re-emerged from extinction. While most games pit the player against dinosaurs, here you are acting on behalf of nature which often sides with the dinosaurs. The only thing that made my discovery of this game even better is the fact that it was based on an early 90s cartoon series of the same name as well as a comic book series (which I must locate copies of as soon as possible and consume entirely).
Having dinosaurs (and Cadillacs) at the arcade is fun and all, but sometimes you need something a little more portable to get your dino-fix and that is where We're Back! A Dinosaur Story for Game Boy had you covered.
Also based on a cartoon of the time, We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story was a fairly basic platformer putting you in the role of a Tyrannosaurus aptly named Rex who must save his two friends from the dark and endlessly-evil Professor Screw Eyes. While I'm sure many a Game-Boy-toting child had a blast with this game, they never knew about the most interesting fact behind the origins of the game (neither did I, until I did some research): this game was one of three re-skins of an earlier Game Boy title named Baby T-Rex. Where the U.S. was treated to a game based on the We're Back! cartoon, Sweden was treated to a game named Bamse based on a cartoon of the same name and putting the player in control of some kind of white bear. In Australia, the exact same game with all of the same levels, item placement, etc. (just with different sprites) was Agro Soar which was based on the very popular character at the time Agro, a muppet-esque creature of unknown origins. While I was shocked when I first discovered that the United States' Mario 2 was, in fact, not the real Mario 2 but a re-skinned version of a Japanese NES game, I have simply never heard of one game seeing four different (but fundamentally identical) versions depending on the specific country of its release.
Our look into the history of our reptilian video game forefathers ends with one of the best video game titles of I have discovered in all of my long and painful years upon this dark orb you humans like to call Earth: Booby Kids.
Released only in Japan, Booby Kids is, perhaps thankfully, not about a group of young children toting some serious sets of gozangas. Most certainly just an unfortunate example of bad Japanese to English translation, the game actually puts you in command of a child time traveler that must navigate an increasingly complex and mundane series of mazes in order to collect different items from a wide variety of characters and locales, one of which happens to be a prehistoric era filled with cavemen and dinosaurs (a time that "scientists" tell us never existed). Booby Kids, I don't doubt your historical accuracy! After all with a name like that, this game definitely knows what's up.
I hope you liked this brief but fittingly obscure look at dinosaur video game history. On next week's episode of the podcast, we are focusing on games that are all about clothing accessories (most notably ones worn on the head and hands). Trust me, you will glove it. There is absolutely no way that you will hat it.