Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 09/10/01 | Genre: Strategy
Ever imagine what Jurassic Park would be like if, the dinosaurs didn't break out and treat the visitors like a buffet? Yeah, me neither, but I guess Konami did and released Jurassic Park 3: Park Builder for Game Boy Advance in their 3 game mini-series based on the third flick in the franchise. I'm afraid to report that the other 2 games with the JP3 license aren't worth the time or money. Park Builder, on the other hand, takes the sim-mangement genre and crosses it with a successful Jurassic Park resort.
Upon turning the game on, you're greeted by a nifty animated opening of various dinosaurs running or flying about. Once you grow bored of that, you choose a name for your park and then begin construction with a cool million dollars in your pocket. I don't know about you, but if I had a million bucks, I'd go buy me some happiness rather than open a resort for ungrateful tourists ("The rotary is too far"..."I don't want to stay here"..."My porridge is too cold, waa waa"), or at least buy a tutorial because you won't find one here. The instruction booklet provides minimal info, and not much else. After you're thrust into the game, you have to start from the ground up. It's great that the menus are easy to use, but some important options like "Save" or "Visitor Opinion" are kind of buried in there. It's not cool, however, that you don't have any construction time to start with. Tour buses will barge their way in once you construct roads to the entrance, even if those roads go nowhere, resulting in many pissed of people.
Soon, though, things start to pick up. Purchasing new buildings is a snap. Sending expeditions to recover fossilized amber for dino DNA is simplistic, albeit expensive. Once you've completed a DNA strand for a particular dinosaur (which there are 140 of, and can be traded with friends via the link cable), you can create an egg for it, hatch it and send it to an electric prison for gawkers to laugh at it. Be prepared to restart your file a few times before you get the hang of it because money disappears quickly, and aggressive dinosaurs will break free in the blink of an eye to devour tour buses full of delicious fat people in floral shirts.
The graphics are simplistic and colorful, much along the vein of Theme Park, which isn't really a bad thing for a game like this. Some of the still shots of dinosaurs in your gallery look really nice. I really didn't like the icons representing dinosaurs and people, though. There are only a few dinosaur icons, each one signifying a particular class. So, several species have the same icon, leading to checking the dinosaur menu a lot. Konami also made quite a few different visitor icons for male, female, couples, couples with a female child and couples with male child patrons, but they're so small and cluttered on screen, it doesn't make a difference. They look like Playmobile people anyway.
The music is sub-par. It's not bad, per se, it just feels really bouncy and out of place. The sound effects, however, are pretty lame and probably could have been done on a Game Boy Color. The digitized dinosaur roars in the opening are static and really don't live up to what the GBA can accomplish. The bleeps and blongs used for menu sounds are so dated that if I worked at Konami, I'd be embarrassed to tell people. I played with the sound down most of the time, anyhow.
All-in-all, I could see this game as purchase if it came down a bit in price, or asking for it as a holiday gift. It's quite enjoyable, especially to those who don't play simulation games a lot because of the ridiculous amount of options to memorize... like me. It's great to whittle away a couple hours in the afternoon, but not much else. The game goes on for 20 years, but once the 7th year kicks in, you'll probably get tired of it. There are almost no rewards to keep going for. I could see higher replay value if each year, you had a profit margin to shoot for and got new items if you reached it, or if the map was randomly generated each time you played. But, alas, either option is not found. Park Builder doesn't bring anything new to the simulation table, but what it does bring, it doesn't do wrong.