Jurassic Park 2: Should The Chaos Have Continued?

(Image captured by Hatm0nster)

Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues (JP2) has been a part of my collection for about 20 years now. It’s survived numerous moves, the mass trade-in of 98’, and even made it through my college years. It’s just always been there. Despite having held onto it for so long though, I’ve never been able to decide if it’s actually a good game. I certainly liked it enough to keep it and consider it an old favorite, but I’ve never been able to outright say “Yes!” whenever friends asked if it was any good. So inevitably they’d ask “Well, then why do you like it”. I’ve never had a good answer before, but now…now I’d say it’s because the game is sticky.

JP2 is the sort of game that does everything it can to grab on and stick with a player for as long as possible. From the very beginning it demands attention with an intense opening one cannot help but watch almost every time the game is turned on.

Credit for the clip goes to youtube user: Onazuma

Kinda makes you want to play doesn’t it?

Even the developer’s logo was meant to be eye-catching in that opening, and it worked! The story shown in that short clip was interesting of course (more on that later), but what’s it really doing is promising a game that looks great.  It mostly delivers on that promise too. The game does look quite good for an SNES game, and aside from the cartoonish look of the opening it’s actually aged rather well. Out of everything shown in the game though, it’s the backgrounds and large dinosaurs the shine the brightest; they each have a hint of personality, giving off a different sense of danger and intensity, with the large dinos looking every bit as threatening as they should be. It really does look how Jurassic Park game should. Unfortunately, I really can’t say the same for the story.

After InGen lost control of their dinosaurs and then Jurassic Park itself during the events of the first movie, BioSyn (a rival of InGen) has attempted to seize control of the facility. In order to thwart the takeover John Hammond (CEO of InGen) has sent in Dr. Alan Grant (one of the survivors from the first movie) and a soldier by the name of “Michael Wolfskin” to regain control of the island following BioSyn’s initial attack. It’s really more of a setup than a story, something I’ve always found disappointing. We could at least have gotten more information between missions, but alas that wasn’t the case. The opening and concluding cut-scenes are there was. I suppose some focus on its story may have been a bit much to expect from an SNES run ‘n gun game, but when the backdrop is a fascinating universe like Jurassic Park it’s hard not to want more. Ah well, at least I got some excellent music out of the deal.

(video by youtube user: Mr.Biscuit)

I absolutely love the music in this game! Each theme not only captures its environment well, but also emphasizes each environments flavor of danger. Take this jungle theme for example: it’s a lively mix of flutes and bongos which also carries a deep bass undercurrent. It makes its environment feel alive and wild while also imprinting a feeling of apprehension on the avatar. Perfectly fits trying to make your way through a dangerous jungle no? Enter a raptor-infested building however and the music becomes a suspenseful and subdued compilation, as if reinforcing the need to proceed carefully and quietly lest you share the fate of the facility’s previous occupants. It all meshes together quite well and even makes for good listening. I consider the music to be the best aspect of JP2 and a big factor in its uncanny ability to stick in one’s mind, though not the biggest. That distinction belongs to its odd level of difficulty.

In all seriousness, JP2 is an incredibly difficult game. I’d say it’s like Alien 3, only less confusing. Put another way, think of it like Ghouls and Ghosts, but with guns, dinosaurs, and a slower pace. It’s quick to spring traps, slow to provide healing items, loves throwing timers into its challenges, and yet I always find myself coming back for more. The individual missions are each a major challenge to overcome, but once a mission is done, it’s done. One could fail a dozen times in the next mission and still keep their completed missions. So unlike in its peers, surviving in JP2 is not so much about trying to make your lives last across the whole game as much as it is making sure a single life lasts long enough to complete a single mission. Accomplish that six times and you’ll have beaten the game! I suppose that’s what makes it odd; it’s incredibly hard, but in way that promises victory with enough patience. (I should also mention that it has coop, but only to say that it’s for experts only. If you don’t know what you’re doing, all having a friend along will do is make sure that you both quickly become raptor chow!)

To me, JP2’s frustrating-yet-inviting style of difficulty is probably the game’s biggest flaw as well as its most powerful draw. Its basic run and gun gameplay is competent, but would be a lot more fun to play if each mission wasn’t such a chore to complete. Yet, if the game were any easier I can’t help but wonder if I would have kept it around. Since there’s no story and nothing special is offered by the gameplay, completion it is the only draw the game has, so once that’s gone really what would be left?

Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues is a game that lives and dies by its difficulty and presentation. It’s varied environments combined with personality-infusing music are enough to keep a player entertained while they make yet another attempt to conquer another mission and keep them coming back for more, but not enough to keep one going all the way through to the end. If it had had a story to go with its missions, dinos, and scenery, I believe that would have been enough to make it more than just decent. As it stands though, the game just falls short of being something more than your average SNES action-platformer. I’d say it’s worth picking up for any Jurassic Park fans out there, otherwise it’s a game best left in the bone pile.

If you’d like to know more about Biosyn and the Jurassic Park universe, check out the link below!

Biosyn and Jurassic Park

4 thoughts on “Jurassic Park 2: Should The Chaos Have Continued?”

  1. I have only played the first Jurassic Park game on the Super Nintendo, and I, too, kept it around because it was so hard. Not only was it very difficult and had no save points, but it was often unclear what you were meant to do, and the locations were labyrinths. And yet, that’s what made it addicting. I once decided I was going to beat this game no matter what. So I started playing small bits with no intention of finishing. I’d check out one area one day, then another area the next. I’d map each level out on paper, and I’d start to form a plan of which locations are best to visit in which order. After weeks of preparation, I then put my plan into action, and it worked, and I beat the game.

    Honestly, though, this game wasn’t super fun, but all that work I put into it made it more worth keeping, in case one day I’d like to try it again. Probably not, but who knows if I’ll feel like an absurd challenge again one day.

    1. I have that game too. At the time I was expecting a sidescrolling shooter like its sequel, but instead I got a top-down adventure game with awkward first-person segments. Never was able to figure that game out. Props to you for having the patience to beat it!

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