We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story
Back in 1993, dinosaurs were all the rage: Jurassic Park was out in cinemas and so was…
We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, which was, oddly enough, also produced by Steven Spielberg.
Of course, it being a kids’ movie in the 90’s, the film spawned a few video games. Even if the film itself was a major box-office bomb and flopped rather hard.
Let’s take a quick look at the different We’re Back! games and try to find at least one decent 8-bit or 16-bit adaptation.
First up, the original Game Boy version.
Here’s a question: how do you make a game about super-smart dinosaurs on a black-and-white (or green-and-grey) portable console?
Well, if you’ve ever played Bubble Bobble then you know that the safest way is to shrink the dinosaurs down to tiny, cute little characters and simplify the whole thing to its most basic concept.
Thing is, Bubble Bobble was kinda unique and well put together whereas We’re Back! just looked like a really bad, really lazy Sonic The Hedgehog rip-off… with dinosaurs.
The animation on that dino is pretty lazy, I should point out, and that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the game. Actually, strike that, I think that the very first panel of the game sets the tone:
Mean-spirited and heart-breaking.
Mean-spirited because the game is forcing you to play using awkward controls and to squint at the below average graphics, and heart-breaking because fans of the movie surely expected and deserved better than this.
All that said, there are a couple of things I like about this game.
That bird’s creepy eyes:
The fact that you’re barely bigger than an ant:
And how you explode whenever you die, like you’re made out of dynamite or something:
Gotta give the game that, at least it was silly and inept enough to keep me entertained for a bit.
The Super Nintendo eventually came up with their own version of We’re Back! and it was…
At least the characters actually looked like what they were supposed to look like. Plus the bright colours are welcome. Unfortunately, the game loses points almost straight away with a story panel which, once again, sets the mediocre, lazy tone.
What the heck has happened to Rex?!
Is he on his knees?
Is he just a head?
Am I crazy or does this whole image look weird? Rex looks angry at Captain Neweyes who looks far more evil than he was meant to be, I’m sure. I thought he was meant to be the good brother?
What follows, I’ll admit, is pretty awesome.
Yup, your eyes do not deceive you: those dinosaurs ARE parachuting down on the city.
That’s cool, whether the game’s good or not.
The animation on the characters looks decent at first and the controls are somewhat fluid.
Even if Rex’s smile is terrifying.
It’s all very inconsistent, however, as the jumping becomes a little awkward eventually and Rex’s attack devolves into a joke as you try to hurl tiny rocks at tiny people who are far to short to aim at so the rocks just fly over them every single time.
The game seems to have its own unique ideas about what a city is.
Apparently, in the middle of New York City, you can not only find random chicken legs high up on the side of buildings:
But wooden platforms just move around without any support whatsoever:
Oh, and aliens just show up whenever you need them to feed you stuff:
I guess finding logic in a game based on a film involving time-travelling talking dinosaurs and magic cereal is always going to backfire, huh?
Oh well, at least they kept my favourite part of the Game Boy game intact:
The bones are a little excessive, though.
Still funny but impressively gruesome.
I can’t wait to see how the Sega Genesis explodes its dinosaurs!
Actually, you don’t get to play as Rex in that game. Instead, you’re given the choice between kids Louie and Cecilia:
The dinos do pop up here and there, mostly in transitionary sections, so don’t worry.
The game, by the way, calls itself A Dinosaur’s Tale which… isn’t the film’s title so I’m guessing either they screwed up or they were just being rebellious for the heck of it.
The game instantly looks better than all the others: the animation on Louie being relatively detailed and working rather well. It actually looks pretty much like the movie so far.
Very soon, though, once again, the game loses its sheen and becomes just as flawed as its predecessors.
The side levels in which the dinosaurs come to help you out range from kinda cool:
To slightly infuriating:
To dinosaur butt-in-your-face unpleasant:
I like the idea of those levels, the whole 3D-style perspective etc., but the non-detailed look of those skyscrapers just seems a bit too lazy (and Superman 64-esque) and, in the flying stages, it’s really difficult to see what comes towards you since your dinosaur’s wings block most of your enemies.
The animation and drawings also suffer throughout the game. As good as Louie’s sprite looks and as smoothly as he moves, some of your enemies are basically badly drawn still images which hop around you as you attack them:
Look how bad that film director looks!
It’s like they fired the artist about halfway through the game and hired his 10 year-old son to ink and paint the rest of the game’s characters.
Some of those characters, by the way, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn were created by a 10 year-old. Just take a glance at clapperboard dude here:
I remember this movie very differently than this game does. Now, I haven’t seen We’re Back! since I was a kid but I think I’d remember a clapperboard with arms and legs.
Or half-naked guys being shot out of cannons:
Or giant scorpions:
Oh, by the way, good news!
We’re Back! on the Genesis can finally join the long list of games which inexplicably use birds as platforms for their characters to stand on!
Gosh I love that.
Oddly enough, this is the best We’re Back! game out of the ones I mentioned above so I suppose what you can take away from that is that there’s just no making a perfect time-traveling dinosaur game. There’ll always be huge, irritating flaws in there for some reason.
If you’re a fan of the film, then I’d say check out the Genesis version if you must but otherwise maybe just watch Jurassic Park again. Probably a better use of your time, frankly.
Or cosplay as Jeff Goldblum, I don’t know…
On that note, I leave you with yet another annoyed Sonic screenshot because…
Poor Sonic’s pretty annoyed right now and he basically nails my feelings on all those We’re Back! games quite well with a single, depressed look.