30 Years of Video Games – Jurassic Park III: Park Builder (2001)

I’m waving goodbye to my 20′s and to celebrate I’m counting down 30 games from the last 30 years.  Join me while I countdown 30 great years of game memories.

Jurassic Park III: Park Builder

The Jurassic Park series hasn’t had too bad of a run when it comes to video game adaptations.  The release of the original Jurassic Park in the mid nineties brought with it no less than eight games based on the film, and while they varied in quality, only one or two could be considered truly awful.

Jurassic Park III too had a couple of   games to its name, both for the Game Boy Advance, neither directly related to the film, and both a far sight better than their namesake.  While Jurassic Park III: DNA Factor was a rather generic if at times pretty sidescroller publisher Konami took a different route for the second game, producing what is probably the deepest not to mention best simulation game available for Nintendo’s handheld.  Developed internally at Konami, Jurassic Park III: Park Builder is basically Zoo Tycoon with Dinosaurs.  And that is a great thing.

Clearly the people that developed Park Builder hadn’t seen Jurassic Park because if there is one thing I learnt from Dr Ian Malcolm it is that life will not be contained.  Thankfully that warning wasn’t heeded because luring tourists to your carefully designed deathtrap waiting to happen is a hell of a lot of fun.  As the manager of an unnamed Jurassic Park you are tasked with designing and building a park that turns heads,  gets people excited, and ultimately gets arses through the front gate.   You’ll do this by breeding the leanest and meanest of dinosaurs , building a fence around them to avoid any unscheduled feeding time, and giving your patrons access to them by building a path.  The better and more diverse the mix of dinosaurs the more people will come.  It’s Jurassic Park building 101.

As simple as that may be though its in the actual breeding of your specimens that a lot of the challenge and frustration lays.  You’ll need to send people out to excavate amber from around the world which you will analyse and synthesise DNA from to develop eggs.   With 140 species to collect it’s a time consuming exercise, but like Pokemon you’ll be compelled to keep playing to complete your collection.  The game also had a DNA trading feature using the link cable so you could trade specimens with friends.  Given I didn’t know anyone who had ever heard of the game let alone played it I naturally never used this feature.

Park Builder is a bit of an oddity amongst the GBA’s catalogue.  If you listed things that the excellent handheld did well strategy games would list somewhere towards the bottom, not necessarily because they were bad but more because there weren’t many of them.  So while park builders rose to prominence during the Nintendo DS period the GBA was largely devoid of them.  Park Builder is a great game by any measure and while it doesn’t look great it is a deep simulation game that just happens to also feature dinosaurs.

The Playstation 2 also had a Jurassic Park themed park builder.  Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis was developed here in Australia and released in 2003.


Have a favourite game from 2001?  Tell us in the comments below.  Don’t forget to come back soon for the next game in our countdown.  Miss a year?  Catch up below.

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