Yes- this one. The game every Blockbuster had on demo-display for you to try, but nobody you knew seemed to own. I remember being enchanted by this game while playing on those booger-crusted controllers… hoping my parents would take a little longer to pick out their movies. Then Santa brought it for me a little later—that old man finally put out!

Jurassic Park on the SNES has you play as Dr Alan Grant, doing things that Dr Alan Grant never did in the JP book or movie. The game seldom attempts to recreate or parallel any scene from the movie. This is key in making a good game on the SNES. The SNES can’t even make The Lion King game resemble The Lion King so you know the devs have you in good hands.

We Spared No Expense

jp snes gate screenshot
His fly is down the entire game.

The game is a technical feat for the SNES, and it looks amazing. There are 2 gameplay modes: the first is a Zelda-like, top down, outdoor view. The controls are great—and you get a lot of cool weapons to use. Remember that part in Jurassic Park where Sam Neill blows up a few raptors with a rocket launcher? Me neither, but who cares. All you need to worry about is completing the mission and escaping Jurassic Park.

jp snes raptor screenshot
a “raptor”.

Once you enter an indoor area, the gameplay changes to the second mode—sort of a DOOM clone. From the FPS perspective you explore large multi-level maps. Some areas even require night vision goggles, a nice touch. This is in real 3D, pushing the poor SNES to its limit. The frame rate gets a spanking in some of the bigger areas.

Beautiful animals…

One of the things you will soon discover is how fun it is to explode the dinos to dino hell. The two best weapons in the game are the rocket launcher and exploding bolos. Even better is that they are the most numerous weapons in the game. So you’ll be making everything explode at your leisure.

I Really Hate That Man

jp snes nedry screen
Story mode game with no save feature.
I know what you’re thinking—“A Zelda/DOOM/Jurassic Park game? How have I not already played this?!” I can see you searching “ebay” for that “cart” right now. Well, just hold on a second. Every JP fan should play this game, but let me adjust your expectations and highlight a few of key points-
1.- There is no game map or objective screen.
2.- Your objectives make no sense.
3.- This game is bs.
BONUS:- No save features whatsoever. This game is bs.
Jurassic Park has a giant map to explore. Most of it is open to your dinosaur-exploding vendetta as soon as the game begins. As a kid I had plenty of fun sitting around exploring the jungle and exploding all the dinos that I could find.
But taking a look at this game years later and actually trying to beat it… well it broke my heart. This game is really, really annoying.
jp snes messages screenshot
My phone on friday nights.
As you walk around the map you will randomly get ~30 popups from various characters in the movie. They mainly consist of basic gameplay tips only babies will pay attention to. Except ONCE in a while a message appears that might be mistaken as some kind of direction to take. You could even argue that if you wanted to advance in the game, you should follow the messages.
But it’s really tough to tell what exactly the game wants you to do… the popup message system doesn’t really work. Remember, no map screen and the world is open. I guess I’ll just walk around for awhile.
jp sness your task screen
How is he still handsome in less than 50×50 pixels?

“Turn up the power!” That sounds like a simple objective! It even says, “YOUR TASK…” That’s what we want! I guess I’ll walk around and try to do that. There are no markers to indicate the Nublar utility shed, and there are multiple sheds in the game. Then an hour later…

jp snes power screenshot
Due to sexism in survival situations Dr Grant was sent to power on the generator.

Mummy! Can’t You See The Fleas?

Great! What’s next? I guess it’s time to walk around some more. I hope a message pops up someday with something I can interpret as an objective.
You must follow a long process of dumb trial-and-error and mindless exploration. The giant game map rivals A Link to the Past by square footage. I’ll try to clearly explain one of the confusing situations the game puts you in. Okay, here goes:
jp snes pen start
Character inventory includes 4 bees and 12 bowling balls.
One of your early “tasks” is to find out how the raptors have been sneaking into the visitor center. So you go to the visitor center. There is nothing to do there. Well there is a lot to do there, but it has nothing to do with the objective.
You actually need to go to the raptor ren. Does the game tell you this? Nope. After weaving your way through the pen to the lowest level, you find the tunnel they’ve been using to move from the raptor pen to the visitor center. Except it’s not a tunnel—its’s a dead end with some ammo and an extra life. These tiny distinctions are important when the directions are so vague!
jp snes tunnel screenshot
Remember KFC Spicy Recipe? Why did they stop doing that?

You complete the task by blocking the tunnel that goes to nowhere by pushing a crate in front of the door. Except whether you actually move it “in front” of the door is debatable. It doesn’t look like you are blocking the door or anything at all. I’m pretty sure the door can still open to the tunnels, there is plenty of space. Wait… the door actually opens away from the crate, so this definitely does nothing.

jp snes tunnel diagram
The tunnel is now “blocked”… mission accomplished? Who knows.
In the same room as the tunnel entrance there’s also another elevator you can use. Except this elevator takes you to the visitor center! Is this how the raptors were getting from the pen to the visitor center? They were taking the elevator? I don’t understand.
I know they could open doors in the movie. They proved they were intelligent. But waiting for an elevator and then pushing a button and getting inside and then reading the button on the inside and actually operating an elevator is insanity. Especially when the task was to block the tunnels next to the elevator.
jp snes elevator screen
Key plot point: The raptors have learned how to use elevators.
I don’t understand the thought process behind this task. Maybe I was supposed to move the crate in front of the elevator instead? Is this task now complete? Should I leave now? Again are you telling me the raptors are using the elevators? Who knows.
And then you start picking up more key cards… I don’t think I’ve mentioned these yet. This game really likes key cards—as like—the main component of the objectives. My brittle bones ache as the game begins to weave a web of bs and key cards.

Drive Kids Out Of Their Minds

After the raptor pen I headed back toward the Nublar utility shed again with Robert Muldoon’s keycard in hand—only to unlock another area and find Donald Gennero’s key card—required for entry to the area unavailable when we first entered the beach utility shed—a completely different shed… now across the entire game map. Oh yeah, through the jungle maze again to get there.

jp snes keybards screen
Great Lincoln’s Ghost.
This is where the game turns into a supreme exercise in bs. You BETTER be writing down EVERY locked door that needs a key card in all of the indoor areas so you know where to go when you find a new key card. There are 7 indoor areas in the game and each has several maze-maps and most of them have more than one elevator. This creates a giant list of chores with dependencies to be completed in almost exact order.
Besides night vision batteries, the item to unlock an area is always located in another building, most of the time very far from where you are. There are no shortcuts, no fast travel options, no magic mirrors, ever. You’re gonna be real friendly with the entire map by the games completion.

I’m Sitting Here, By Myself, Talking To Myself

jp snes google
People out there doing god’s work.
The indoor areas are legit mazes. Most often the way to a new area completely avoids the most direct path. This has been driving people to share user-created maps for years. Have you noticed yet that each building only uses a single texture for its walls? Every room looks the same. You’ll wander these maps for hours—pulling your hair out—to find where to go or just get to the exit.
Here’s a guide from an early hero (credit to Ray Tsui of Ottawa) during the pre-good internet era. He’s doing his best with what he has. You can almost hear the dot-matrix printer going to town on these pages:
jp strat guide 1
The school’s copier will be running out of toner today.

I didn’t end up using the next guide, but you can see even this grizzled keycard vet is sick of this game’s bs (credit to Catfish_82 at SNES Central):

jp snes guide 2 screen

“…now you’re probably frantically running around trying to get done with the tasks so you can beat this godforsaken game and be done with the whole mess. I don’t blame you…”

So you know I am not alone on this one. This guide also mentions a glitch on the same page where you can get stuck in one of the doors at the ship. This happened to me so many times as a kid. There’s nothing you can do but hit reset on your Nintendo and start all over. I would just sit there and cry.

I hate trees!

jp snes ship screen
A rare message to the player appears.
The best mission in the game is stopping the dinos from hitching a ride on the ship. You have to systematically explode all the raptors, then prevent the ship from leaving. The game has clear on-screen messages telling you exactly what to do, and it’s great. You will even start to have fun… until you find Dr Wu’s key card. The door that required his card was… at the visitor center… across the entire map again.
There is a positive correlation in the time since leaving a particular building and the likelihood you’ll have to go there next. By now I can tell the developers were just trying to stretch the play hours out in the most annoying way possible.
jp snes nest screen
This is where the raptors have sex.
At least there’s a legit finale. You have to unlock the gate into the last jungle area and find the Raptor Nest entrance. Things are feeling spooky and you finally feel like the game is starting to wrap up. Time to plant some nerve gas and peace out. The helipad is near so we will get a nice helicopter ride before the game ends I bet. Most likely there will be a sweet cut scene with the T-Rex running out of the jungle at our helicopter as I barely escape, that would have been nice.
But first you must call the helicopter. Huh? Call the helicopter? No one told me that. How? From where? From here:
jp snes green bed screen
The bed represents the royal $%#@ing the game just gave you.
A single room, in the dark, on the 3rd deck of the ship, one of the 7 large mazes in the game. There are countless other green terminals exactly like this in the game. From what I can find, there is no indication from the game that you must call the helicopter from this specific terminal only, to end the game. It’s just here, with a special button to push, and you have to end the game from this terminal, because that’s what they decided. Well at least the helicopter has been called and I can leave.
jp snes ending screen
Gee, thanks.
Then you hear a helicopter sound, the screen fades to black, and a nice short message appears. That’s it. They didn’t even bother to show a helicopter landing. Nothing. Just the rotor sound, then a quick “congrats”. The game is now over. There is a high score screen where you enter your name, but again that is completely pointless as the game is not stateful. After a console reboot, the scores will just reset.

It’s a UNIX system! I know this!

Oh there is one more thing I left out completely. Ian Malcolm bugs you the entire game to collect his raptor eggs:
jp snes eggs
I peed in my basketball shorts when I found the last egg.
And guess what? If you don’t find every single one of this man’s eggs he has laid all around the island, you can’t leave. So screw you.
jp snes shit
At this point why not, of course the game wants you to collect every single egg. Why not include Super Mario 2 at the end and also require you to beat that before the helicopter arrives? Why not add 1000 Sudoku puzzles before the chopper can rescue you? Then we can really argue for some gameplay value here.
After YouTube and some “egg-maps” on Google, I got them all. So that’s how I actually came to beat the game- and finally got some childhood closure.
jp snes evil laugh
Ocean Software Entertainment circa 1993
This game that I treasured as a child turns into a complete nightmare once you actually try to do anything with it. But I do recommend it because we’re alive in glorious current year; with the following caveats:
  • You play it on an emulator and save often, and use multiple slots just in case.
  • Pull up a few video speedruns and walkthroughs, and stack those Chrome tabs.
  • You are a Sam Neill fan and watch The Final Conflict or Merlin at least once a year.
After reading through the Wikipedia for Jurassic Park on SNES, I know how this game happened. Well, I have a theory. A chaos theory.
Ocean bought the license for this giant, yet-unreleased Stephen Spielberg blockbuster around 1992. The license fee was a huge investment for the company, and they worked hard early in development to make something great. They reached for the stars and made some great tools for large and good looking outdoor environments, a giant map to set the game, and a cool indoor FPS mode. They dedicate both the California and UK teams to the project. The milestones and deadlines start to hit and then the movie gets released… it is $$$HUGE$$$. The pressure mounts and they started making compromises and cutting out features… the suits upstairs are screaming at them for a release date to capitalize on the film’s mega-success… until finally the save slots went out the window and they just started dumping in pointless chores for the player to do.
I know the egg hunt was added later in development, just to stretch the hours out a little bit more. It feels completely tacked on and unrelated to anything else in the game.
jp snes sam
How did the next scene slide by with only a PG-13?
Sure I was too dumb to beat this one as a kid, but we only ever had a few SNES games growing up. So while finally beating it was a tough cookie, its flaws actually made it a better game all those years ago. It was something I could turn on and never know how far I was going to get which each new attempt. And its not like game studios are pumping out quality JP licensed content. Even after all of this, I might still argue that this is the best Jurassic Park game ever made, whatever that means.
I give it 3/5 Malcolm eggs.