A manageable and down-to-earth version of Jurassic Park, this worker-placement game has everything from visitor-eating dinosaurs to DNA-harvesting scientists. A fan of dinosaurs or not, you will find this delightful
BENGALURU:Of the many references that Ready Player One crams into its opening half an hour or so, the giant T-Rex from Jurassic Park was easily one of the most memorable. Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster (based on Crichton’s 1990 bestseller) has firmly established itself in our collective consciousness — and that’s why Dinosaur Island, a game that just so happens to be about building a park for dinosaurs, also proved hugely successful on Kickstarter. Is it any good, though? Let’s find out.
Dinosaur Island is a worker-placement game where 2-4 players play as rival corporations each trying to build the best dinosaur-based theme park on their own little islands. You’ll task your scientists with harvesting the DNA you need to create different types of dinosaurs based on their ‘recipes’. Meanwhile, your other workers will be sent out to build various attractions in your park, upgrade your paddocks so you can get more dinosaurs in, recruit special workers who’ll give you special powers and, occasionally, maybe try to improve your security a bit. You know, if there’s time. After all, you’ve got hordes of excited tourists coming through the gates to see a bunch of extremely dangerous creatures (and not just the carnivorous ones either!) up close — what could possibly go wrong?
First things first — yes, this could (and perhaps) should be called Jurassic Park: The Board Game, but it isn’t. Then again, calling it that does do Dinosaur Island a disservice — it is its own beast, so to speak. In fact, if you’re expecting a thrill-a-minute ride with dinosaurs breaking loose everywhere and chaos taking over, you’ll be disappointed. Yes, the odd visitor to your park will get eaten — life finds a way and all that, but this is going to happen. Apart from that, however, Dinosaur Island feels much more...manageable. The corporations you play as feel like they’re much more sensibly run than InGen ever was, and the game is accordingly more down-to-earth. This isn’t meant as a criticism, though, because Dinosaur Island is still a whole lot of fun.
If I didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking about the production values and the presentation of Dinosaur Island, I’d be sorely remiss. As aesthetics go, this game has a love-it-or-hate-it graphical style. I absolutely adore the box art, but I’m not too keen on the neon slathered over other game components (meant to evoke the early 1990s, and succeeding for the most part). So your mileage may vary. However, the rest of the components deserve nothing less than unstinting praise — the DNA dice are a lovely translucent amber (and isn’t that just perfect?!), the little dinosaur meeples and the little scientist beakers are great, the terrible puns used to name the attractions are wonderful, and the money tokens might just be the best metal coins I’ve come across in a board game. (Disclaimer — I own the original Deluxe Edition which some of these components were exclusive to, but there’s another way to get them if you keep reading!)
Dinosaur Island is a wonderful game, even if you didn’t grow up as a fan of Jurassic Park. If you did, however, this is one game you do not want to miss.
If you’d like
to build a park full of dinosaurs for, you know, reasons
to try to keep your loyal customers from getting eaten
to play a great game that’s definitely not based on Jurassic Park, why do you ask?
...you should visit Dinosaur Island!