Dino City FI

SNES A Day 81: DinoCity


Approximate Release Date: September 4, 1992
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Irem
Publisher: Irem

Isn’t the box art for DinoCity incredible? Everything about it is pure ’90s distilled into one beautiful picture, and every time I look at it I see something new.

The game is okay.

DinoCity‘s big innovation is that you control two characters in a level – either Timmy and his dinosaur Rex or Jamie and the dinosaur Tops – and can switch between them at will. Most of the time, the child will ride on the back of their respective dinosaur. A quick tap of the right shoulder button will let the child jump off and be able to fit in places the larger dinosaurs couldn’t get to. But the kid and the dinosaur can’t move very far away from each other, so the potential for puzzles involving switching between the two seems limited. The first two levels don’t really take advantage of the ability, and it’s too bad.

Only the dinosaurs are able to kill enemies. The children come equipped with little lasers which freeze most enemies, but they don’t stay still long enough to make it worth swapping characters. Tops is the better of the two dinosaurs since she has a ranged attack that can kill most enemies before they get to you. Rex just punches enemies at very short-range, but he might as well be hitting them with a wet noodle for all the damage it does. Both sets of characters can hop on enemies to deal damage, too, but the dinosaur attacks seem more effective.

The rest of DinoCity is pretty run of the mill. The first stage surprised me with its relatively high difficulty, but once I adjusted to the slightly floaty controls it wasn’t a problem. The game is nice and colorful, and the music is tolerable if you ignore some whistling here and there. The fact that DinoCity is serviceable in every area highlights that the character swapping is dull and underutilized.

I would have liked to see more from DinoCity, but what’s here is worth checking out. Joe & Mac is a better prehistorical platforming game, even though it doesn’t have box art nearly as radical.

Tomorrow: Did you know that in 2010 the United States Congress questioned the developers of Roger Clemens’ MVP Baseball regarding their alleged use of anabolic steroids during the making of the game?

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