More specifically, it’s a fairly decent “Contra Clone” that attempts to inject a little depth into the run-n’-gun genre.
Note that I referred to the game as being “fairly decent,” and not FUCKING AWESOME like Contra III: Alien Wars.
My experience in playing Jurassic Park 2 on the SNES came in the form of a single weekend rental.
I was spending the night at a not-so-close friend’s house.
Yeah, this was back when my mom was still sending me off on “play dates” with kids I didn’t really know too well.
I remember his mom helped us make some Nickelodeon Gak.
I remember feeling bad about making such a crazy big mess of their kitchen.
That and I remember accidentally over-starching my baby blue Gak, rendering it nothing more than a rock hard, plasticky, smelly-ass paperweight.
Oh well, I could still make fart noises with it. Well, until I accidentally left it out of it’s jar for too long…
Anyway, later that night my friend’s mom took us out to rent a videogame for the night.
Naturally, seeing as Jurassic Park the movie had come out just the year before, and dinosaurs were still the coolest thing going for 7 year old boys, my friend and I couldn’t resist getting our hands on Jurassic Park 2 for a night.
Oh yeah, and keep in mind that neither of us had been allowed to see Jurassic Park in the theater.
This would be our chance to live the movie!
Upon popping the cart in, we were treated to a vividly animated opening cut-scene, complete with VOICE ACTING.
This sequence was pretty impressive when I was a kid, but to look back at it now, as an older and wiser Azn Badger, it’s a pretty impressive technical feat to see high quality voice clips crammed into a tiny SNES cart.
It’s kind of funny, I have a sneaking suspicion that the dude yelling “Go! Go! Go!!!” is the same voice actor that played Duo Maxwell in the dub of Gundam Wing… and pretty much every animated character from the early 90’s and on.
Anyway, as I said before, JP 2 was a “Contra Clone” through and through.
It was a co-op, side-scrolling run-n’-gun game wherein player one controlled some white dude in a gray shirt, and player two took control of a brutha’ in a red shirt.
I guess Dr. Grant spent his time away from Isla Nublar doing some hardcore military training or something, ’cause I was less than impressed by his proficiency in handling the SPAS 12 in Jurassic Park the movie.
Innovations in the gameplay came in the form of a mission select system, a health bar in place of one-hit deaths, objective based levels, maze-like level designs, and a lethal/non-lethal weapon system.
That’s right, the game expected you to tranquilize the dinosaurs so as to preserve that bloody Scot, John Hammond’s, investment.
Oh well, the Mega Buster style Stun Gun was the shit.
Despite most of these deviations from standard Contra game mechanics being fairly minor, I remember them greatly affecting my experience with the game over the one evening I got to play it as a youngster.
The health bar was a clever innovation in that it gave my not-friend and I the illusion of playing an easier game, one that didn’t punish you for every little mistake I.E. FUCKING CONTRA.
Instead of getting shot dead every time you slipped up, the game would give you some leeway in the form of respawning you at the edge of a pit if you missed a platform, or better yet, giving you some Megaman style invincibility frames immediately after getting hit.
In truth, the health bar served to give us a false sense of security.
There were far more opportunities to get damaged in JP 2 than in any of the Contra games released up to that point, resulting in ones’ health bar draining quite rapidly.
On the plus side though, on two-player mode you could transfer health between players to even out both health bars.
Yeah, my not-friend and I had to rely on this trick to get us past, well, pretty much everything, ’cause we sucked pretty fuckin’ hard.
To make matter worse, we found out pretty quickly that you only got one health bar per level.
JP 2 differed from the Contra series in that Contra games are about precision, about the memorization and mastery of a series of small scenarios.
JP 2 was more of a reflex game, and a cheap one at that.
Enemies (I’m lookin’ at YOU, yah’ Raptor fucks…) would often run in from either side of the screen at absurd speeds, often times respawning in greater numbers if you were foolish enough to try and run away.
In addition to the dinosaur enemies, there were also a multitude of human enemies armed with a variety of weapons ranging from pistols to flamethrowers.
While most of the dinosaurs were manageable for the most part, the humans were truly a pain in the ass.
Many took several hits to take down, and the ones that fired their weapons (yeah, not all of them were smart enough to do that) did so often, and with great accuracy.
This is what I meant when I said Contra was about “precision.”
In Contra games, enemy fire was accurate, but largely infrequent, and often pattern-based.
JP 2 puts you up against endless walls of broken-ass fuckers that pepper you to death with fast moving orange bullets.
As you can probably tell, Azn Badger wasn’t too good at JP 2 when he was little.
Thank God for the mission select system, otherwise my not-friend and I would never have gotten past the Raptors in the first level.
Seriously, who the fuck thinks to jump over a fuckin’ Velociraptor?
“T-Rex Carnage” was the first stage I remember my not-friend and I playing.
How the fuck could we not?
Of all the stage titles, it was the only one that promised the appearance of the fucking T-Rex* they slapped on the back of the box.
There was no way we could go to bed without at least getting to see the T-Rex.
It took us a good solid hour of Raptor-Rape before we finally got to see the lizard king himself.
It was fucking crazy.
It all starts when you wander off into the jungle, when out of nowhere the game fades up from black and a jeep pulls up alongside you.
Oh yeah, and did I mention there’s a fuckin’ T-Rex bellowing into the air about 10 feet behind you?
Well, there is.
Yeah, if you don’t hop on that jeep you are fuckin’ slow. Like, Little Bear slow.
As soon as you’re on the jeep, the T-Rex gives chase, gaining on you the whole way.
Putting buckshot and 9mm fire into his giant-ass skull slows him down, but as expected, does little to deter his advance.
In the meantime, as this rampaging beast is charging at you full-bore, there’s a bunch of dudes hanging from the trees above you that just happen to be SHOOTING AT YOU.
There’s a fucking T-Rex on the loose and these guys can think of nothing better to do than hang from vines, directly in harms way, and put rounds in Dr. Alan-fucking-Grant and his brutha’ from another mutha’?
Priorities dudes, get it together.
Just as the T-Rex is within inches of getting his unforgiving jaws on you, the jeep suddenly launches off a ledge and into a pit.
Yeah, my not-friend and I were just a little preoccupied with getting shot to bits by tree-faggots and, you know, BEING CHASED BY A MOTHER FUCKING T-REX to notice the ledge.
Needless to say, on our first time through, we went down the fuckin’ hole.
On our second time, the T-Rex inexplicably caught up to us and chomped us good.
Yeah, turns out he does in fact catch up to you if you decide to prioritize shooting the fuckers in the trees over the giant fucking lizard.
Finally, on our third time through, we got our shit together and made the epic leap off the plummeting jeep and onto the vines hanging over the pit.
After shimmying across the vine and to the ground just past the pit, we got to see Alan Grant and brutha’ red-shirt whip out their PDA thingies to view this message:
The fuck kinda’ bullshit is that?
We put EVERY FUCKING ROUND WE HAD into that beast, and it didn’t so much as make him wince!
Are you telling me we were expected to stop that thing?
Well, needless to say, my not-friend and I were none to happy about this, and we promptly reset the game.
Of course, we had no idea that that was exactly how the game was supposed to go, (you don’t fight the T-Rex proper until the latter stages of the game) and because of that, we were determined to play the stage over to see if there was a way to defeat the T-Rex.
Well, naturally we never found a way to beat the T-Rex, but we did find out something silly in the programming of the game.
After you jump off the jeep and onto the vines above, you can still hear the T-Rex roaring after you periodically.
Because we were both upset at our perceived failure, we sat still for a moment, bitching back and forth over what we could have done wrong.
During this time, we let the game sit, unpaused.
After a minute or two, we noticed that the T-Rex’s snout started to appear from the left side of the screen.
Every time it roared, it would inch a pixel or two further into view.
Eventually, a large portion of the T-Rex’s form became visible, and we watched it repeatedly stand and bellow into the sky.
Finally, after several minutes, the T-Rex inched forward so far that it slipped off the ledge and fell straight into the pit below, completely submerging it in darkness**.
Despite this, the roaring persisted.
After seeing that, my not-friend and I burst out laughing.
We proceeded to the end of the stage and got the same bullshit message as before, but in our eyes, in our own special way, we knew we had beaten the T-Rex.
That was the only stage in the game we beat that night.
That being said, The Best Track in the Game is…
Protect the Gallimimus Stage Theme
Did you notice how earlier in this post I made no mention whatsoever as to the quality of the music in this game?
Well, I did so for a reason.
Jurassic Park 2 was very much an average quality game, and as such, the soundtrack was nothing to really write home about.
Truth be told, there was nothing really wrong with the quality of the music, it’s just that the soundtrack is comprised of very few tracks, and most of them are very low key and best heard as ambient noise.
JP 2’s soundtrack is not one I would picture myself listening to outside of the context of playing the actual game.
Despite this, Protecting the Gallimimus is a good solid action track, with a surprising amount of dignity and pathos to it.
The music goes very well with the setting and flow of the stage that it occupies, which consequently, just happens to be my favorite stage in the game.
In fact, once my not-friend and I tried it, I’m pretty sure we kept playing it over and over until we passed out.
Basically, the level is a balls-out run through a massive field of death.
Other than the occasional family of Gallimimus running past you, every enemy in the level is a human, making the Uzi and Shotgun your best friends for the duration.
I remember my not-friend and I bursting out laughing every time one of us got trampled by one of the hoodie wearing dudes.
Even more so when one of us got beaned in the face with a gas grenade.
The boss of the level was the big-ass helicopter pictured somewhere above, and just below.
Initially it starts out with a huge cage hanging down from it’s body that it likes to slam into you.
If you somehow manage to knock off the cage, the chopper starts sweeping the area with gunfire and bombs.
As mentioned previously, my not-friend and I never finished any level other than the T-Rex stage, though we did get to the chopper boss many, many times.
This is the track heard most frequently in the Jurassic Park 2 soundtrack.
Basically, every time you are in the jungle, (ALL THE FUCKING TIME) this is the music that accompanies you.
Thankfully, it’s a pretty decent piece of music.
In fact, the Jungle Theme is good enough that in some ways I hesitate to call it a runner-up to the Gallimimus theme.
They both use a similar instrumentation, and both have that really slick, almost haunting quality to them.
Both track also share a similar length, with both adopting a number of subtle variations throughout their loops, resulting in extremely long tracks for an SNES game.
I think I hold the Gallimimus theme in slightly higher regard, not only because it belongs to my favorite stage in the game, but because it has a more thematic quality to it.
It is only played at one point in the game, and it’s composition reflects this.
The Jungle theme on the other hand, is what I would regard as sort of a “hub theme.”
There are stages where it is played only for a few seconds, simply because, well, you were in the jungle for a bit, and that’s the music that they play when you’re in the jungle.
Sorry, “Miscellaneous Jungle Music,” guess you lose to Protect the Gallimimus this time.
*SIDENOTE: Personally, I don’t remember ever referring to a Tyrannosaurus Rex as a T-Rex until after the Jurassic Park movie came out, was this an established thing by 1993, or was I just too young and uncool to :
**BONUS: I was lucky enough to find a clip that shows the T-Rex glitch! When it happened to my not-friend and I it wasn’t quite so dramatic (the T-Rex only fell once), but hey, either way it’s pretty crazy!