Jurassic Park Operation Genesis
With a little patience and luck you can come across some pretty fun stuff in the retro-gaming sphere. Recently I was able to scoop up an original Xbox with all the hookups, a controller, and a case of games for $5 not bad right? The console needs some love but it does work. Mae and I fired it up and tried a few of the games that we had at our disposal. The games included were The Sims Bustin’ Out and about 30 Xbox Magazine Demo discs. The Demo Disc is a lost art for sure, these discs were expertly crafted using fun interactive menus and had a large variety of content to explore. It would have been an interesting job to be the person in charge of curating the content to be included in each month’s demo disc. I really enjoyed playing the various demos with Mae because it instantly dropped us into the action. This immediate access let us try a few different games in rapid succession.
I noticed that one of our demo discs included a demo of Jurassic Park Operation Genesis which I thought interesting as it is one of the hardest to find and most expensive games for the original Xbox. While Jurassic Park isn’t traditionally a franchise I would expose Mae to, I knew that this was a simulator that let you control which animals were on display in the park. I wanted to see if we could successfully navigate Operation Genesis in a way that would not frighten Mae and open her up to a new genre she has not yet explored.
In the full game, after the main campaign is completed you unlock a game mode called “Site B”. This mode allows you to stop worrying about visitors and enclosures and focus on creating an island for your dinosaurs to co-exist(or not). One benefit we discovered while playing the demo is that this mode is available (albeit in a limited capacity) without beating the campaign, so we immediately began creating our own Lost World style island.
Now I will say this at the onset, you can have a lot of fun with your kids while playing this game, but they most likely won’t be the ones holding the controller. Like most other management simulator/RTS games played on a home console, the controls are a little clunky and take a while to get comfortable with. What I did instead is present each option to Mae and let her make the choices. Do you want triceratops or more tyrannosaurs? Should we add more mountains or trees for the dinosaurs to eat? This led us to a nice little history lesson. I had a huge fascination with dinosaurs as a kid and it was fun to share some of what I know with Mae. Operation Genesis even features an in-game dinosaur encyclopedia, always important in a video game. You can never know enough about dinosaurs.
The demo only allows you to interact with three dinosaur types in the Site B mode; a small herbivore, large herbivore, and large carnivore. What is fun is breeding a large number of the same type of dinosaur, then zooming out and watching them interact with their surroundings. After a little while the triceratops seemed to move around the island in a herd and fend off the few random tyrannosaurs that Mae had initially thought were adorable. She didn’t think they were so adorable when she they started walking around eating goats and attacking other animals….oh well circle of life right?
There is what appears to be a very comprehensive weather element to Operation Genesis. Storms are common on the island and cause the dinosaurs to react in different ways. Whenever a storm would come along, our T-rexes would begin competing for territory and it would usually end with one of those blood-curdling roars from the movie and a few booms of thunder. A very impressive display for sure, if a little frightening.
The Jurassic Park Operation Genesis Demo offers a pretty complete set of features for something that was included as an extra on a promotional disc released by a magazine. I really appreciated the opportunity to challenge Mae with a subject she still doesn’t know too much about and enjoyed sharing what I remember from my childhood with her. I doubt that I will ever spend upwards of $100 for a copy of this on the Xbox, but it was released for PC as well and had a pretty vibrant mod community. I think Mae and I would both enjoy seeing what other types of dinosaurs can be raised on the Site B island.
As parents we need to have at our disposal a wide array of absolutely terrible jokes. In an attempt to help add to your comedy repertoire I present you with a dinosaur joke so good that I guarantee it will make your children roll their eyes and walk away from you:
Why can’t you hear a pterodactyl going to the bathroom?
Because the P is silent!
On that note, I will be taking a short leave of absence from writing the Raising a Gamer series to tend to my ever expanding family, probably a month or so. The little guy is due any day now and by the time this is posted I will most likely have tweeted a picture of me holding an adorable small person. Keep up with me on Twitter @ChrisASwartz for more gaming/parenting and I hope all of you moms out there have a great Mother’s Day.