Dinocide, put simply, is not very good. Not only does it lack the challenge of the game it’s trying to be, but it doesn’t even feel like they even tried to make a memorable game. Dinocide lacks boss battles, exciting level design or even the challenge of losing the game due to your character having infinite lives. The gameplay feels as stiff as the animations look, and everything just feels like an Alpha build that never got to see the light of a beta before being pushed out onto a shelf. There were some real possibilities here to recapture the energy and excitement of a classic series- but sadly Dinocide doesn’t capture any of the charm of its inspiration.
Dinocide is one of those games banking on your nostalgia for the past. When you’re a gaming caveman like myself, the simple act of creating 8-bit ‘Nintendo Hard’ challenges is enough to make me squee. The designers at AtomicTorch Studio have tried to capture the essence of Adventure Island, but in almost every way fallen short. One simply has to look at the gameplay from the two, and the differences should become immediately apparent. There will be some who get enjoyment out of this game, no doubt; so I’ll tell you my problems with the game, and let you decide if you’re willing to overlook dated and overly simplistic gameplay in the pursuit of finding that squee.
Dinocide only features a Story and Time Attack mode, providing a bone barer than one under the claws of a T-Rex. You start out with a cute little animation, showing you on a date with a nice little cave girl before a huge monstrosity shaped like a mountain grabs her up. This might be the coolest moment of the game. Of course you’re in fast pursuit, ready to take on any creatures that get in your way. A very simple story, inspired by a simpler time.
My faults don’t lie with the classic story however, it lies with the gameplay that hides behind a nostalgic mask, covering all the hallmarks of laziness. That’s not to say there aren’t some clever ideas here, but the whole time I played it I kept wanting to pop in a copy of Hudson’s classic instead. I never try to compare games to others when reviewing, but I’m finding it completely difficult considering they tout it.
I might forgive how slow your character walks if there were a level of diversity to the stages. Sadly, there isn’t. Adventure Island has segments with skateboards, mini-games between stages, and segments where you have to bounce on springs in the sky. These levels provided some relief to the generic platforming sections, and quickly changed the environments. Dinocide sadly hangs around in stages for far too long, has no mini-games and offers no variety. There are about seven different level templates in the game; beach, caves, ice caves, forest, swamp, fire mountain and underwater. I guess I can’t fault the developer too much, given that these are the standard locations for a caveman- but I need more than just visual diversity.
When I got to my first boss battle, I was pleasantly surprised. Playing like a typical first boss, a huge T-Rex head comes out from the foreground and shoots fireballs and a whip-like tongue out at you. After learning the easy patterns, I was able to beat it on my first try. Sadly, this is the only boss fight you’ll experience in the game, besides the final boss. How is this even possible? Joe and Mac would’ve been a chore without a boss fight every few stages, and this game gives you one in the first fifth of the game and calls it a day. That, is without a doubt, the laziest thing I’ve seen in video games lately, especially in a game that’s begging for diversity.
One thing the game does do right is the weapons. When you collect weapons in the stage, the previous weapon is stored in a list that you can retrieve later. This isn’t new *cough* Adventure Island, but they do offer an excellent selection. One thing that is different is the use of gems, which can be spent in the game’s various shops. The arrows are without a doubt your go-to weapon. Because you have an energy meter that prevents weapon spamming, the arrows can be thrown in rapid succession and have little impact to the meter. There’s also an axe, which flies out with a shallow arc with a substantial amount of damage, and a boomerang which is about as good as any other game that features a boomerang. Your dinosaur friends are also pretty useful, but mostly for their powerful secondary attacks and accompanying health bar. There’s five of them with unique moves and abilities (like walking through fire), but they lack any charm or originality.