Dinosaurs are great. Like really great. I fell in love with dinosaurs, like many of us did, as a child. In turn, I adore Jurassic Park, and still do. Despite the ever decreasing quality of each sequel, my love of dinosaur based theme parks had not diminished. I’m certainly not alone in my love of this genre, as there has been several ‘dinosaur park building’ games over the years. Most recently we’ve seen Jurassic World: Evolution released on PC, Xbox One and PS4.
But did you ever watch Jurassic Park and think, “these dinosaurs should be wearing hats”? Well, I may have found the game for you. Parkasaurus is the cutesy and fun dino park building game you’ve been looking for. On its surface, Parkasaurus reminded me a lot of the old Zoo Tycoon games. Place paddocks, place animals into paddock, then play around with the plants, water, rocks and anything else to make the perfect environment for your dino.
One of the issues I have with these sorts of games is the issue of rewarding gameplay. Recently I reviewed Megaquarium, and while I generally enjoyed the game, the NPCs would walk up to a tank and lifelessly stare into it, with only icons above their head to indicate that something was happening. The aforementioned Zoo Tycoon had a similar issue, but Parkasaurus has a solution to that problem, and it is very simple.
Unlike other recent ‘tycoon’ such as Megaquarium and Parkitect, Parkasaurus has decided to move away from the small, big-headed visitor model that was popularised in the early Rollercoaster Tycoon games (and is probably easier to design) and gone for a taller NPC, one which coincidentally looks more like the ones features in Rollercoaster Tycoon 3. The NPC being taller allows for more physical animation, and instead of staring lifelessly at the dinosaurs, the guests will wave their hands and jump up and down in excitement. Perhaps not particularly realistic behaviour, but it makes the park feel more alive.
Parkasaurus isn’t trying to be gritty and real. It’s bold and silly, and one of the most colourful games I’ve played in years. Dinosaurs remind me of 99p plastic collectable figures from the 90s, often coated in pinks and purples. Stalls range from the humble food van to the restaurant, with Theme Park inspired novelty food stalls located somewhere in between. As you can imagine, there are benches, picnic tables, bins and toilets all to be added in.
Parkasaurus really excels when it comes to making your park look pretty. Despite the game being in early access, the game has a ton of options when it comes to making the place look nice, from shrubbery, to lighting, statues and fountains. Your paddocks are linked with paths, and much like other games in the genre, it’s a case of click and drag to build them. It’s the same process with paddock building. Each paddock will need a different sort of fencing, dependent on what dinosaur is in it. A T-Rex will think nothing of your quaint, wooden design.
Building isn’t the be all and end all of the game as well, as it has a couple of little quirks to separate it from the crowd. There’s a shopping screen in which you can purchase food for your dinosaurs and purchase new dinosaur eggs. To discover new types of dino, we need to send our scientist away to hunt for fossils, which is done in a seperate menu.
You’ll receive a confirmation when your team arrive at the digsite, then it’s up to you to dig up them dino bones. In a simple mini-game, you click on parts of a grid, Minesweeper style, to uncover bones and other fossils. Uncovering a fossil in its entirety will reward you with that fossil. Get enough and you’ll be able to buy an egg of that type.
You can build a research station as well as talk points around the park, place your scientists here to talk to visitors to gain research points. These can be spent on a skill tree to unlock new items for the park, one downside is at this stage in the game it is far too easy to unlock stuff. I managed to unlock everything in the game with only two paddocks. This will be updated however, I’ve no doubt.
One thing that is immediately noticeable about Parkasaurus is how sleek it looks. During my time I noticed no gameplay or visual bugs. The only issues I came across were with the tutorial and a minor error when building water, but this didn’t impact on the game at all.
I’m really happy that this game exists in the world, and looking at Steam, other people are too. I’m certainly not on the Jurassic World: Evolution hate train, but I’m glad that those who really don’t like that game have something of a similar ilk to play. Plus you can unlock hats and glasses to dress your dinos up and and if that doesn’t sell this game to you then I don’t know what will. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Parkasaurus progresses: fans of dinosaurs and park building games need to keep an eye on this one.
Code supplied by publisher for preview purposes
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