Genre: Rail Shooter
Year: 1997
Developed by: Sega AM3
Published by: Sega
Platforms: Arcade
Feeling Like: Something has survived

If I saw The Lost World: Jurassic Park in an arcade, I was going to play it, but seeing it wasn’t necessary. I could hear it first.

Arcades were usually a myriad of bleeps and bloops that accompanied excited wails and negotiations with parents but a few stood out. As Arcades became more technologically impressive, developers soon realized that the sounds were just as important as graphics to lure window shoppers in. In 1997, there wasn’t a single arcade shooter more impressive than The Lost World.

I can still hear it. The music hasn’t aged well at all, it’s as if elevator music was rebelling against its own speakers, but some of the themes are still stuck in my head. The voice acting was a novelty at the time and is wonderfully cheesy, but the sounds of Velociraptors, Dilophosaurus and, naturally, the T-Rex are as unforgettable and fantastic here as they were in the Jurassic Park movies. That T-Rex roar is in the hall of fame for sound design, to the point where it irritates the hell out of me when it’s altered slightly. Man, those last few Jurassic World movies were terrible.

So I’m sauntering the floor of Johnny Zee’s and I hear familiar dinosaur screams and a lot of shooting. I’m a moth to a light, impossible to resist the urge.

I played this game with so many friends that none stood out completely, although I do recall beating the game with Fuzzy on a trip to the Moncton bowling alley. The gameplay is typical rail shooter fare; you move automatically, your only job is to shoot dinos before they kill you. I loved it. Fast trigger fingers were rewarded since there weren’t any accuracy bonuses or concerns about diminishing ammunition. Reloading by shooting off-screen has to be one of the greatest innovations in video game history, it’s so goddamn satisfying and never failed to make me feel anything less than a godless killing machine.

A few highlights stand out; the speed of the raptors and cheap shots made sure you could never take your eyes off the screen, or breathe. Clearing a screen of enemies meant you’d move forward a bit, the camera would turnAND BOOM WATCH OUT ANOTHER RAPTOR RIGHT IN YOUR FACE. Most were avoidable, but some were impossible to detect unless you had advanced knowledge of the level layouts.

I’ll never forget one moment during the confrontation with the Carnotaurus. When it comes to boss fights, the big bad will very politely open its mouth for a few seconds before it chomps you. A series of circular targets will appear, prompting you to shoot all of them to completely negate any damage to you and deal significant damage to the boss. It’s a terrific system and far more forgiving than most arcade games.

Ian and Sarah will warn you “he’s coming”. It’s a chameleon type monster, so it’ll fade in and out of visibility. You’ll be frantically wandering around trying to avoid it while taking pot shots when you can. At one point, you duck into an elevator when a lone raptor jumps out at you, then another raptor launches itself at you in quick succession. Nowhere else in the entire game do minor enemies appear during a boss fight, let alone ambush you completely without warning. You’re so focused on Mr. Carnotaurus that other potential dangers don’t even enter your mind. I used to stand and watch random people succumb to this brutally cheap hit, knowing it was coming and knowing it would scare the crap out of them. What a devious, bullshit move!

A few times you’ll come across an NPC being attacked by a dinosaur – if you’re adept enough and save them, you’ll score a powerup. However, it usually occurs during a chaotic moment and you’re usually knee deep in raptor attacks that you’re just as likely, if not more so, to shoot your human friend while trying to rescue them! With friends like these…

It’s a fantastic, short little light-gun game. It’s held up remarkably well, just don’t expect a ton of bells and whistles like in Time Crisis 3 and you’ll have a great time.

Watch out for those raptors!

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