Back in 1993, Stephen Spielberg and the crew at Industrial Light and Magic brought to life a prehistoric, man-made world conceived by Michael Crichton in the late 80’s. Not before long, Jurassic Park became a household name, grabbing the attention of people of all ages and warranting two sequels, a line of comic books, and numerous games. Nearly 20 years later, the gripping franchise is still alive and kicking, as noted in the sporadic talk of a 4th sequel and the recent release of a park building simulator developed for the iPad / iPhone by the French based Ludia. Free to owners of these Apple devices, the Jurassic Park simulator mimics the 2003 park builder, Operation Genesis (PC, PS2, Xbox), where players take control of their very own dinosaur theme park.
The experience starts off on a predetermined spot of land on your very own island. The infamous visitor’s center and massive gate, two supply depots, and an infant Triceratops are your starting points, with The Lost World’s Kelly Malcolm acting as your initial guide through the rundown of the game’s rather simplistic play. Your goal throughout the game is to build your very own dream Jurassic Park by utilizing various resources and buildings.
To get your park going, you need to “activate” your supply stores (where boats will harbor in meat and vegetation to feed your dinosaurs). The catch? Each activation only lasts a few minutes and costs money, which is earned not by your visitors, but rather as a progressive scale with your dinosaurs and some buildings. Lower level creatures will earn you less money per minute / hour, and at the end of their “cycle”, you can collect what they’ve earned you (i.e. a Triceratops may earn you $167 / 15 minutes). Since this is how you earn cash throughout the game, building up enough money to invest in some of the more cost-effective dinosaurs may take quite a while. To increase your money production, you’ll want to level up your dinosaurs by feeding them with your limited resources. It’s a vicious and continuous cycle of spending more to earn more, but it is one that makes sense for a free title.
Patience – that’s what the game requires, a lot of patience. Everything you build takes time, and as you build more effective buildings and hatch higher cost dinosaurs, the build time increases. You can speed up production buy spending some harder-to-earn cash, but letting the time lapse on its own prolongs the experience – especially since you can turn off your device and let it continue building in real time.
Your progression will come in the form of missions given by some of the series’ most well known characters. Dr. Henry Wu may direct you to research a strand of DNA in order to unlock anewdinosaur while the park’s director, John Hammond, will have you working to earn the most cash. In regards to Wu’s research at the visitor center, as you clear out more land onthe park (and surprise, the cost to clear land increases each time), you’ll find amber that will give you the option to decode a new DNA sequence and unlock a new dinosaur. The concept is simple but expensive. What’s a dinosaur park without the threat of escaping carnivorous beasts? Jurassic Park Builder charges you with ensuring that all of your most dangerous creations stay within their respective paddocks.
Jurassic Park is not a game you’ll be able to sit down with and spend a lot of time on in one sitting. If you choose not to spend real world cash on in-game cash to speed along the process, you could be looking at a rather extensive amount of play time. Though quick to get into, the game slows down considerably as your dinosaurs start to level up and require more food and you uncover more amber to unlock bigger and better prehistoric beasts.
In the end, Jurassic Park is free. It doesn’t take up all that much room on your device and, really, can simply be deleted if you don’t like it. At the very least, it’s worth spending a few moments to download to try it out. Fans of the Jurassic Park film series will enjoy the inclusion of the licensed sounds of memorable dinosaurs like the mighty T-Rex and Velociraptor but may be sorrowed by the lack of John Williams magnificent score.