Once upon a time back in 1999, Capcom released a survival horror game titled Dino Crisis. I was maybe thirteen years old when I first dived into its demo. It blew my mind. Now I know what you’re thinking — I was far too young to be blowing dinosaurs to smithereens, but I turned out okay (for the most part.) After I fell in love with Dino Crisis due to how much its gameplay replicated the early Resident Evil games, I used a good chunk of my pocket change and purchased the game in its entirety. Now, merely ten years later, I took it upon myself to dust off that old PlayStation to revisit Dino Crisis and everything it had to offer…kind of.
Dino Crisis takes place on a fictional island called Ibis Island, ironically set in the ‘future’, which happened to be 2009. Considering a research facility set upon the island was under investigation, secret agent Tom takes the reigns and seeks out anything unusual. It turns out that Kirk, a brilliant scientist, was leading a secret weapons project within said facility. Crazy, right? In due course, Special Operation Raid Team sends out four more agents to take him into custody. Regina, the main protagonist of Dino Crisis, is accompanied by Gail, Rick, and Cooper, only to discover that Ibis Island has them in for quite the surprise.
From the brief opening scene to Dino Crisis, high hopes sprinkled the imagination of a preteen. Not to mention, walking in the shoes of a female protagonist was pretty awesome. Reexamining the world of Dino Crisis, the terrible voice acting and impassive dialogue were absolutely comical. Now I don’t know about you, but if a dinosaur stumbled into my path, I’d be in a state of anxiety and shock. Unlike Regina, who carries on with her day as if she’s not being hunted by vicious creatures. Not to mention, she even addresses dinosaurs as “giant lizards”, as if their species has never been introduced to her pea-sized brain. Talk about second hand embarrassment. I must admit though, the way she aims her weapons with the one arm is pretty badass.
The ability to mix supply items to generate or upgrade products was pretty cool, such as poisonous darts or tranquilizers. A personal favorite item I had the pleasure of experiencing was a resuscitation pack, which was automatically utilized if Regina met her ultimate doom. Instead of reloading a saved game, Regina would basically get a second chance to redeem herself, moments before her death. So when “DANGER” flashed vigorously on my screen and the pterodactyls swiftly carried her into a pit of deadly blades, I wasn’t totally angry at myself for not button smashing my way out of that pickle.
Annoyingly, Regina’s inventory space is very limited. Not to mention, I could never tell the state of her physical health. Velociraptors have sliced and diced vigorously at her, sometimes even knocking her weapon into oblivion. Yet my inventory screen didn’t provide me with her vitals. Apparently, she saunters around more oddly than usual. Or she will leave a trail of blood. Take your pick, just pay attention. Save rooms are also scarce and difficult to locate. Memorizing boring landmarks helped plot Regina’s next move more than consistently following the map. At first, I didn’t even realize I occupied a save room until I began exiting out a door, prompted with “would you like to save your progress?”, following Regina venturing onward.
Even though mustering through Dino Crisis can be more of a headache than a riveting experience, the three different endings provide a high replay value. Today, it’s simple to do a search for practically any video game ending, but once upon a time we had to earn that right. Considering YouTube wasn’t even a blimp in our imagination at the time of its release, treading through the game multiple times in order to unveil the altered endings was essential. Dino Crisis did a good job of incorporating few moments of character choice into the gameplay, which would ultimately determine Regina’s outcome. Escaping the relentless bone-crushing T-rex wasn’t going to be a walk in the park anyway, but it was nice to have options.
Though Dino Crisis wasn’t as enchanting as I remembered, it was still amusing to listen in on the awkward social interactions and conquer persistent velociraptors. Seriously, the game is at least 90% raptor attacks. Puzzles ranged from child’s play to momentarily surrendering my pride to the giant lizards. If Regina circles the facility enough though, the pieces eventually fall into place. Hopefully. With its Resident Evil mechanics mixed with the presence of dinosaurs, Dino Crisis had a lot of potential. At times, the scare tactics were spot on. On the other hand, the lack of variation in both the environments and dinosaurs were disappointing. I was looking forward to encountering a stegasaurus, but life goes on.