Hot on the trail of this summer’s blockbuster movie, Konami’s Jurassic Park III – The DNA Factor, comes rampaging onto the small screen. It’s back to the all too familiar Isla Sorna, as we join the action right as a plane crash lands there on a stormy night. Unfortunately the crash has scattered the cargo of dinosaur DNA capsules far and wide. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s your job to collect them all.
Standing in the shoes of Mark Hanson (an Indiana Smith look-alike) or Lori Torres, your mission is to head into the jungles and abandoned enclosures of Isla Sorna, all the while trying to avoid becoming dino fodder. Let me tell you, that’s no easy feat.
This 2-D scrolling adventure has all the usual requirements such as, running across logs and jumping boulders. The first problem I encountered was judging the depth of field. There I was desperately trying to pick up an item and then I realised that it was in the background and with one step back, hey presto! This is simply a matter of getting used to the limitations of the Game Boy and recognising visual shorthand, like items are rendered slightly smaller in the background. Once I got over this little stumbling block I was ready to go.
The opening cut scene, featuring stormy night and plane crash looks great and takes you right back to the movie, as do each of the new levels, which follow the chronology of the movie too. So to the job in hand – let’s go get us some lost DNA!
Starting in Jungle of Giants, you come across some little green critters (they probably have some scientific name, but hey), who give a mean bite, despite their size and can soon spell your untimely demise.
But once you run over the first couple of logs, fortunately you pick up a knife, then your scaly friends better watch out. Please note, the knife doesn’t work on anything bigger".grrr! Jungle of Giants features chasms, which must be jumped, so be careful on your first run because otherwise you will undoubtedly end up heading straight for one and fall to your doom. The player has one life, so it’s sudden death and back to the beginning of the level if you kick the bucket.
The DNA capsules come in the form of small, brightly coloured spheres floating about. Simply collect as much DNA as you can on your way through each level. You don’t have to get them all to complete the level, but if you don’t get enough".you’ve guessed it, you get sent back to the beginning. Hmm, do you see a pattern forming here?
Okay, so you’ve jumped over logs, avoided dinosaurs and collected as much DNA as you can, so head for the end of the level and pick up the Base DNA Capsule. Then there is a little sub-game, after you finish each mission, called the DNA Lab and this is where you create dinosaurs. A double helix DNA strand stretches across the screen and some DNA particles are missing. It’s your job to shoot the DNA you’ve collected into the strand to complete it. This tricky task is performed using an injector, which you can move from left to right along the bottom of the screen.
I know what you’re thinking, sounds easy enough, well there’s a bit more to it. Match the coloured DNA capsules to the right colour gap in the strand by moving the strand along, using the shoulder buttons. To make it harder there are molecules floating down and if they touch your injector the whole experiment is contaminated and you have to start again. Also, if you run out of DNA particles before completing the sequence you have to start again. Now this is when I started getting cranky.
Getting sent back to do the sub-game again doesn’t sound so bad. I agree, it doesn’t sound bad at all, but the great and the good at Konami thought, no, let’s send them all the way back to the beginning of the WHOLE LEVEL! Oh yeah, great idea guys. So consequently what happens is the DNA sub-games get increasingly hard as you progress through the game, so hard that you spend the majority of your time at the beginning of the level collecting DNA to get back to the lab.
Then stage two of player frustration syndrome is that you get so adept at doing the level that it takes a few seconds to run through and get to the lab, but you still can’t do the stinking DNA sequence and you get REALLY frustrated. I’m getting mad just thinking about it.
Deep breath in"and out. My main concern is why the developers felt it necessary to make the player continuously prove that they can do the level, as opposed to just letting them retry the DNA thing and progress through their lovely game. Excuse me, but please remind me why playing the same level over and over and over is fun, because I seem to have forgotten.
Other than that I quite like this game, honest. The character is easy to control and has several groovy moves like a jump kick, a slide, climbing ladders and a crawl move for that all-important sneaking around. Each of the dinosaurs has its own characteristics and needs different techniques to be defeated, which is part of the puzzle aspect of the adventure. The menu screen has nice presentation, using the classic trembling water in the footprint from the movies, each time you select something. It could have been so much fun.
Jurassic Park III – The DNA Factor only gets 2 1/2 GiN Gems from me because despite being a pretty good incarnation of the movie on GBA, it still stands as a prime example of how to sap all the fun out of a game through unimaginative gameplay.