Digging up old fossils
It's hard to believe that there ever were big ass creatures like dinosaurs living on the same planet humans inhabit today. Maybe that's why we have such a fascination with them, and why Jurassic Park captured our imagination for decades (which is why the Jurassic World movie is a thing). Dinos really have every great quality. They can be scary, cute, cool, and fascinating all at the same time.
The ancient reptiles have invaded just about every form of entertainment, including games. They have a mindblowing level of diversity - from club-tailed ankylosauruses to pack-predator velociraptors - and the games starring them are almost as far flung. From horror titles to cutesy platformers, dinosaurs are everywhere in gaming. In case you're looking for a few games to knock you down a few links in the food chain, here is a list of some of the dinosaur games you definitely need to play.
There just aren't many multiplayer shooters that allow you to munch on your enemies as a monstrous T-Rex, but Primal Carnage makes it happen. As a human, you play a typical first-person shooter in terms of controls, weapon variety, and overall feel. The human classes get an arsenal of dino-dropping gadgets and weapons, from sniper rifles and tranquilizer darts to assault rifles and rocket launchers. But you don't want to hear about the human side, you're here for the man-eating reptiles.
The dinosaur team is just as varied in their abilities. You can play as the speedy raptors, high-flying Pteranodon, bull-like Carnotaurus, and venom spitting Dilophosaurus. All of these dinos create a mix that's built to surprise the humans. The Pteranodon can swoop down and pluck human players right off their feet, and drop them to their deaths. Carnotaurus can charge into enemies like a battering ram. But the ultimate experience is playing as the massive T-Rex, snatching up hunters with your massive jaws and ripping them to shreds.
What if the Nazi's infamous military research yielded something even more terrifying than impractically huge tanks?Maybe a way to bring prehistoric, dino death machines back to life? Well, they would probably put machine guns on their heads and train them to do their dirty work. In Dino D-Day, that is the exact situation. The Nazis have a dinosaur army at their beck and call, and the historical WW2 battlefields have become prehistoric feeding frenzies.
Alongside the German soldiers, who are armed with the standard set of World War 2 weapons, players can take control of Nazi Velociraptors, a Styracosaurus that functions as a quadrupedal machine gun turret, and a T-Rex with guns attached to the sides of its face. The matches feel a bit one sided, because the allies' only dino friend is a three-legged, baby triceratops, but how often do you get to battle ancient dinosaur Nazis in an online multiplayer game?
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
The N64 shooter Turok: Dinosaur Hunter bears many of the scars of an early console shooter. You don't really have to aim because the game's auto aim just does it for you, and the platforming sections are so difficult it's just cruel. The shooting may seem a bit dated by today's twin stick, Call of Duty standards, but Turok is still a blast to play.
The best part of the original Turok, and the reason why it's on this list, is you actually get to fight dinosaurs. It really has no story to speak of. You just start off the game killing random human attackers and charging raptors, but eventually the giant monkeys and dinosaurs start brandishing alien weaponry, like mechanical arms and energy cannons. And it's all just leading up to a battle against a T-Rex boss with, you guessed it, a laser attached to its head.
Looking for a little more horror in your dinosaur adventure? Look no further. Dino Crisis is a classic PlayStation title that takes the tank mechanics and fixed camera gameplay of the Resident Evil series and drops them into a Jurassic Park-like setting. Meaning dinosaurs are out to eat your face off, and there's no fast way to turn and run.
Take a classic Resident Evil game, replace all of the zombies and mutated monsters with velociraptors and mutated prehistoric monstrosities, and you know exactly what to expect. The game is all about waiting for the next scare. The fixed camera sets you up for frightening ambushes, limited ammo ups the intensity of encounters, and there's cheesy dialogue galore. Dino Crisis has it all.
Jurassic Park (Sega Genesis)
Even decades after its release, this 16-bit action platformer is still a must play dinosaur title. Tranquilizing dinos and taking on the vicious velociraptors is no less intense than when the game's graphics were cutting edge back in 1993.
You play as Dr. Alan Grant as he navigates the environments seen in the first movie, from jungles infested with raptors and triceratops, to the Visitor's Center guarded by a massive T-Rex. Best of all, you can play as one of the island's escaped velociraptors at it attempts to evade or eat its human captors. Few things are more satisfying than pouncing on security guards as one of Jurassic Park's most dangerous predators.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
What's a Mario game doing on this list? Well, one of Mario's best buds is a saddle-wearing dinosaur. To leave Yoshi off of this list would be a crime against every video game dinosaur out there. So, here he is. In Yoshi's Island, you don't play as the mustachioed plumber, but instead as an entire race of friendly dinosaurs.
Mario is in a bit of a vulnerable state in Yoshi's Island. He's a defenseless baby and must rely on Yoshi to guard him while the dino attempts to rescue Baby Luigi from the clutches of Baby Bowser. This was the game that locked down all of Yoshi's now-standard abilities, allowing him to toss eggs at enemies, eat anything with his long tongue, and flutter jump to extreme heights. Not only is Yoshi's Island a must play title on the SNES, it represents the best of the most popular video game dinosaur ever.
Skylanders Trap Team
I know what you're thinking: "Skylanders is a game about cute, mystical monsters, not dinosaurs." To which, I say to you, "Wrong!" Skylanders allows players to take a variety of bizarre characterizations of animals, mythic monsters, and heck, even vegetables, then level up the collectible toys as you play. But if you didn't think a children's game built around monsters wouldn't include some awesome dinosaurs, I'm here to open your eyes.
There are dozens of characters to collect, but the most awesome by far (especially for dino enthusiasts) is Chopper. This charming little guy is a young T-Rex that is a bit tech savvy. Along with his vicious roar attack, he can blast his enemies with the rockets attached to his sides, and use his helicopter backpack to dice up enemies or become one of the first airborne tyrannosauruses in gaming.
Monster Hunter 3
The Monster Hunter series might not feature dinosaurs per se, but the massive creatures you battle in the game are incredibly similar to their prehistoric counterparts. Can we just say they're close enough? I mean, taking on humongous beasts with complex attack patterns and various weak points using giant weapons is something we can all get on board with, right?
In Monster Hunter, you choose a class of hunter who can carry anything from unreasonably large warhammers, to unreasonably large daggers. The intricate inventory system, battle mechanics, and unique hunting features make each battle unique. Facing off against these mighty creatures is incredibly thrilling. With monster designs that are undeniably inspired by ancient dinosaurs (and dragons. There's lots of dragons), this is the closest to hunting dinosaurs you're going to get.
Need some dinosaur fighting game representation on this list? It's right here, baby! Gaming never fails to follow trends, and in the mid-90s what could have been more trendy than mixing a Mortal Kombat-style fighting game with prehistoric apes and dinosaurs? Primal Rage is one of the most memorable games of its era, though not necessarily for being great.
You choose a variety of beast combatants that range from King Kong-like apes to T-Rexes with varying degrees of evil motivations. Each monster is revered by the world's lowly human inhabitants as gods and they happily cheer you on as you battle your foe with special moves and combos. What makes the game unique is you can eat your opponent's cheering humans for health bonuses, and following the likes of other successful fighting game franchises of the time, each prehistoric combatant can finish off opponents with a match-ending fatality.
Jurassic Park: The Lost World Arcade
Yes, we generally stick to the console side of gaming here at GamesRadar, but this dino adventure is just too good not to get a mention. Light gun shooters may have come and gone on the console space, but in your local arcade, they are just as entertaining as ever. When it comes to dino blasting action, Jurassic Park: The Lost World's arcade cabinet, remains king.
The on-rails shooter takes you through all the events of the 1997 film. From the stampede intro that challenges players to avoid the bowel excretions of a brachiosaurus, to face to face engagements with the king of all dinosaurs, every second of the entire game is challenging and thrilling. Throw in a co-op player, and you've got an unforgettable quarter-sucking experience.
Life finds a way
There you have it. Those are our picks for the dinosaur games you definitely need to play before you become a fossil yourself. Do you have any favorites to add, or memorable moments from one of these games that you want to share? Let me know in the comments below.