Capcom cornered the market on the survival horror genre, thanks in no small part to the Resident Evil series, but success breeds complacency. Longtime Capcom employee Shinji Mikami looked to Hollywood for inspiration on the next great Capcom franchise, and he found it with The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Aliens. From that, Dino Crisis was born.
From 1999 to 2003, Dino Crisis carved itself a niche for action-oriented survival horror that walked the line between daft and terrifying. The idea of fighting dinosaurs in this day and age is silly, sure, but tell me your pants wouldn’t turn brown if you were being hunted by a pack of raptors. The series has seemingly been extinct since then though, but fans have been clamouring for a comeback. Today we ask: will we ever see Dino Crisis 4, or a remake?
The History of Dino Crisis
As mentioned, Dino Crisis was conceived by Resident Evil visionary Shinji Mikami. In an interview with Edge Magazine back in 1999, he cited a desire to develop a game that was a little bit more “real”, or as real as you could possibly get for a game about creatures that haven’t existed for millions of years.
Undeterred by these constraints of time, Mikami spoke about the difficulties that came with developing the dinosaurs: “Producing the dinosaur animation was interesting because we don’t know for sure how they moved in real life, so I had to use my imagination.” He then gleefully showed Edge footage of the player character being devoured by a dinosaur, remarking on how dogs and crocodiles were used as inspiration for the dinosaurs chowing down on humans.
While Resident Evil aimed for true survival horror, Dino Crisis moved towards the idea of “panic horror”, as the dinosaurs were stronger, smarter and faster than the zombies of the RE series. Although Dino Crisis clearly drew from Mikami’s earlier work, it also expanded on the Resident Evil formula. Environments were actually shown in real-time as opposed to the pre-rendered areas of the RE games, and enemies could follow you from one room to the next, adding to the level of tension in a way that wasn’t utilised in the RE games at that point.
Dino Crisis launched in July of 1999, and critics were mostly impressed with the game, noting the obvious influences from Jurassic Park and Resident Evil while also praising the improvements on the formula such as the dinosaur AI. Sales of Dino Crisis would hit 2.4 million copies, and ports of the game were released on PC and the Sega Dreamcast in 2000, but those versions weren’t as well received, with many favouring fellow Dreamcast release Resident Evil: Code Veronica.
Naturally, that level of success prompted a sequel, with Dino Crisis 2 launching on PS2 in 2000. Again, like the Resident Evil series, Dino Crisis 2 moved away from the horror-esque elements of the series to become more like an action-adventure game. Players were even rewarded for murdering dinosaurs in succession with Extinction Points, which would allow the player to purchase new, more powerful weapons.
Despite the change in direction, critical reception for Dino Crisis 2 was just as warm as the first game, earning praise for new focus on action. Commercially, DC 2 wasn’t quite as big of a success as the first game, selling 1.19 million copies, but it was enough to warrant both a spin-off and a sequel, and that’s basically where the series takes a nosedive. The spin-off, a light gun game called Dino Stalker, ended up with a Metacritic score of 50, so the less said about that, the better.
Then came Dino Crisis 3. If Dino Crisis 1 was like Friday The 13th, then the third game is Jason X, and that’s about as silly as that sounds. Taking place over 500 years after the events of the original games, Dino Crisis 3 features all new characters, gameplay and overall setting, with dinosaurs that had been mutated through a cloning process. Originally though, Dino Crisis 3 was supposed to be set in the present. The official press release for the game’s announcement in 2001 mentions the following:
“The purpose is to rescue the humans in the facility from the dinosaur swarm. This time, we will use a system that can attack dinosaurs with multiple partners, and various human dramas will develop depending on how you play.”
However, the plans were changed through development to the space setting, with developer Hiroyuki Kobayashi remarking in an interview with GameSpy in 2003 that the development team “chose space because we wanted a totally new atmosphere”. Dino Crisis 3 was also an Xbox exclusive, with Kobayashi confirming in an interview with IGN that the Xbox “had the best platform to give us the graphics we felt we needed for this particular title”. Side note, Kobayashi’s interviewee style is hilarious. Short answers only, all business, no fluff.
Dino Crisis 3 would go on to receive just as lukewarm a reception as Dino Stalker, with a 51 on Metacritic. Critics lambasted the game’s camera, which utilised the same fixed camera perspective as the first two games, only now the main character could use jetpacks to zoom around the level. The speed of player movement combined with the archaic camera system created a frustrating gameplay experience that failed to impress. The game was projected to sell just under 600,000 copies by the end of 2003, but reports of “sluggish” growth from Capcom’s end of year financial report suggest it failed to even reach that target.
Where’s The Series At Now?
Dino Crisis 3 basically put the series on an indefinite hiatus, with little to no recognition or hope for a remake or sequel ever since. There’s been some reference to the series in other Capcom properties throughout the years though, with the lead character of the first two games, Regina, showing up in the RPG Namco X Capcom. A Regina cosplay outfit was also available for the character Annie in the utterly bonkers DLC Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha.
On top of that, Monster Hunter Online developer Tao Weishi and even Shinji Mikami himself have all expressed interest in developing new games in the series. Capcom’s own Masachika Kawata, producer on RE7 and who worked on all three Dino Crisis games, stated in an interview with the Daily Star that he had “hope in [his] heart” for Capcom to reboot the series in some way, but he hadn’t heard of any internal discussions regarding plans for the series. However, Kawata does admit that the idea of a Dino Crisis on modern hardware is “a really exciting prospect”.
Will There Ever Be A New Dino Crisis Game?
It seems like there’s a lot of talented developers out there who would jump at the chance to make Dino Crisis 4 happen, but Capcom are currently going through one of the most successful periods ever, buoyed by the renewed interest in the long-running Resident Evil and Monster Hunter franchises. It’s possible, likely, even, that Capcom would rather continue that recent run of success and focus on what works rather than take a punt on a series that yielded diminishing returns even during its heyday.
Still, a tentpole of Capcom’s strategy recently has been extensive remakes of their back catalogue, with remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3 drawing a considerable amount of praise and commercial success for the Japanese company. Quite frankly, a similar remake for Dino Crisis using the RE Engine as a basis would certainly be an interesting concept. The core fanbase might not be as massive as other Capcom franchises, but a remake like that could be sold off the back of the strength of RE 2+3 alone.
Those fans holding out hope for a new Dino Crisis might have to put their dreams on ice for a while, however. Last year, Capcom were the victims of a malicious ransomware cyber attack that revealed the majority of Capcom’s future schedule up until 2024, and Dino Crisis was nowhere to be found. It’s possible that the release schedule that was leaked is out of date, and Dino Crisis could have found its way into the shuffle since then, but it’s not looking good for anyone hoping for a new entry in the horror series within the next three and a half years.
To many, the idea of Dino Crisis coming back seems like that unobtainable or unrealistic expectation, like my wish to see Ape Escape make a comeback. Stranger things have happened in the gaming industry though. THQ Nordic could easily just pay Capcom millions for the rights to the license and form another studio to make the game. If they can bust out remakes for Destroy All Humans! and SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, surely someone can commission a remake for Dino Crisis.
If anyone does want it to happen though, apparently it’s Capcom themselves, or at least some of their developers. In late 2017, the Twitter account for Capcom’s Dev 1 team responded to a fan’s request for a new Dino Crisis, stating they’d make it “if a lot of people wish it”. However, they also noted the day afterwards that they’d like to make more games, but their development staff are limited. It’s up to the fans here to campaign Capcom for a new Dino Crisis, making it a request that Capcom simply can’t ignore. Be the change you want to see in the world, and ask Capcom to let the dinos loose one more time.
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