Steven Spielberg’s 1993 classic Jurassic Park gave rise to two great, great things: the “Weird Al” song and, almost two decades later, the creation of quite possibly the finest mobile game of all time.
That’s right, you heard me. There’s a game based on a film that doesn’t actually suck.
Ludia Inc. released Jurassic Park Builder in 2012. I was thirteen and, more importantly, had just been gifted a touchscreen phone for my birthday. A htc, I think it was. I’d been given the option of a BlackBerry but opted for the htc because, of course, I thought the latter would have better games.
I wasn’t wrong.
After several months of jumping from game to game (I confess, Angry Birds took up an absurd amount of time) I stumbled upon Jurassic Park Builder. And I was blown away. The game – a simulator in which you created and ran your own version of the infamous park – took up hours and hours of my time. I didn’t stop playing until I was seventeen – only because I’d accidentally cleared the data and hadn’t the heart to start over.
Years of my life. Gone. And I’d do it all again.
“the dinosaurs you’d reared from birth were made to fight to the death for money.”
You’re probably wondering why this had me so hooked, right? Can mobile games really be this good? Absolutely.
First thing’s first: the content. The game was packed with it. Not only could you build your own Jurassic Park but, once you’d reached the required levels, you could also construct both underwater and glaciated areas. Right there, you had hours of content at your fingertips. Another major component of the game was the arena, where the dinosaurs you’d reared from birth were made to fight to the death for money.
Moral conundrums aside, it was a pretty entertaining mini game with a simple but effective tournament system. Also, for fans of the original films, it really did hit home when Dr Grant and Ian Malcolm popped up onscreen to give you mission objectives. Nostalgia. Always a good tactic.
The interface was also easy to use, and the game was pretty addictive. And free. Didn’t I mention that? Free. That’s right. Four years of enjoyment and no charge. Not unless you count the optional purchases for in-game currency. Which I don’t. That’s just cheating.
“A must-play for fans of the films”
But as much as I loved it, the game wasn’t without flaws. The building of certain structures, as well as the evolution of certain dinosaurs, would take days in real-world time. I understood why – it incentivised the purchase of in-game capital to speed up these processes – but still, it was always a sticking point for me.
Regardless, if I was reviewing the title, I’d give it 4.5/5 stars. A must-play for fans of the films and for those who fantasise about running (probably illegal) dinosaur fight pits.
I’d love to end on such a high note but here’s where things gets a little tricky. Strictly-speaking, the game I’m talking about doesn’t exist anymore. Ludia Inc. removed it from app stores a while back – probably with the intention of funnelling more gamers into playing their 2015 release, Jurassic World: The Game. A title that, much like the Jurassic World films, is okay, but not quite the original.
Still, I’ve played a few hours of this updated version and I would recommend that you check it out.